The December holiday period is a time to rest and have fun, but it is also a good time to set goals for the coming year and to reflect on how you are going to achieve those goals. Many of the visitors to our website are first time job seekers and we know how difficult securing that first job can be. Here is some guidance to help you as you plan for 2017.
It is important to remember that a CV is a ‘snapshot’ of who you are, what you have achieved to date and what you are capable of achieving in the future.
The content should be honest, clear and professional. Many candidates make the mistake of thinking that longer is better, but we would advise that you keep it to two pages. Don’t underestimate the importance of presentation. If your CV is inconsistently formatted and riddled with spelling mistakes the impression created will not be a good one.
You need to present yourself in your CV in such a way that the potential employer will choose to meet with you over all of the other hopeful candidates. How can you do this? Spending time preparing a really good cover letter is an opportunity to provide the hiring manager with some insight into your personality. It is also a space where you can look at the requirements of the role and explain how you will be able to meet those requirements.
If you successfully secure an interview, this is your opportunity to shine! Different industries have different dress codes, but clean and professional is always an advisable way to present yourself at an interview. Make sure that you do some research on the employing company and consider how you will respond to questions like: “Tell me about yourself” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “Why do you think we should employ you for this role?”. The interview is your opportunity to demonstrate why you are the right person for the role.
We would advise you to start building a professional online presence and registering for a free LinkedIn profile is crucial.
Social media platforms can be very powerful when looking for work, but we would also urge you to be cautious. The majority of recruiters will check a candidate’s social media profiles and it is therefore very important to think carefully about the types of photos and comments you post on sites like Facebook.
Using online job sites is also a really good approach. They allow you to register for free, apply for suitable roles online and set up job search notifications.
Networking should also not be limited to online. Every person you meet and every social interaction is an opportunity to find out about a potential job. Remember too that if you can’t find paid employment, volunteering or applying for unpaid internships are really good ways of gaining experience and making contacts.
If you are a graduate you should definitely apply for work in your field, but it is rare to secure your dream job straight away. Those roles usually require experience, but the important thing is not to be discouraged. Every working opportunity leads to experience and growth, the building blocks toward a rewarding career. There is also no way of predicting what a role will lead to and the path that your career will take. Many successful people express how their career was forged from opportunities as they presented and how those opportunities took them in directions that could never have predicted.
It is really difficult to secure work without any working experience and you need to think of innovative ways to differentiate yourself from other candidate. Involvement in extra-curricular activities like student clubs, societies and volunteer work are brilliant ways to develop organisational skills, leadership and communication. These activities and the skills acquired should definitely be included in your CV and cover letter. Participation in these activities also demonstrate a lot about your character and may well lead to networking and growth opportunities.
The job seeking process can be long and difficult, and arguably the biggest challenge you will face is not allowing this process to erode your hope, confidence and focus. You will get that interview one day, and when you do, you need to enter the room feeling as confident as the day you first started looking for work!
“It always seems impossible until it’s done” Nelson Mandela
Author: Kim Elliott
Editor: Thembakazi Yamiso
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