Finding a job is hard work, and can be the toughest job you will ever have. The key to job-search success is to treat the entire process like a business. Successful jobseekers plan ahead, seize opportunities, and create opportunities for themselves. To stand out above other jobseekers, you have to devise an effective strategy. Define what you want and need, understand yourself, and understand the job market.
Jump-start your search with these helpful job-hunting strategies:
1. Do self-assessment
Begin your job search by making a list of your interests, skills, accomplishments, experience, goals and values. Recognise what makes you a unique candidate, and communicate this effectively to a prospective employer. If you lack certain skills that are required for the industry, make sure you develop those skills through extra courses. Change your voicemail greeting on your telephone to sound professional. New graduates too often focus on the perfect job, instead of focusing on a first job where they will learn and develop certain skills and enhance their network list.
2. Manage your job search
Stay organised by keeping a record of the progress of your job search: names, positions, dates and communication. This will help you when you have to conduct follow-ups with employers. Make sure you have a professional and polished curriculum vitae (CV), and take the time to customise your covering letter so that it clearly stipulates that your qualifications meet the requirements for the position. Conduct research on various fields and companies, and learn more about the different businesses that interest you. Target those that are more likely to have vacant positions. It is not about how many jobs you apply for, but about paying attention to specific positions that interest you. Do research about the company, compare your skills with the requirements for the position, and submit the correct documents requested by the employer.
3. The hidden job market
Experts say that 80% of jobs are found via the hidden job market – those informal communication channels that exist between employers and jobseekers. One key to “breaking in” is to understand the hidden job market. If you can present yourself as the perfect candidate, an employer may recruit you without looking for employees elsewhere. Reach out to companies you admire, even if they did not advertise any vacancies.
4. Be proactive and persistent
This is not the time to sit back and wait for an opportunity to come knocking on your door. While cold-calling potential employers can be intimidating, it remains a powerful strategy. Job hunting is difficult, and there are times when you will be discouraged. Try to keep a positive attitude, and regard your job hunt as an exciting challenge. Make use of opportunities during your studies. Volunteering and temporary positions are a great way to gain experience and prove your worth.
5. Electronic job boards and websites
It is a good idea to sign up with an online career portal. Here you can receive updates for the latest positions and make your CV accessible to recruiters. Hundreds of career websites have mushroomed during the previous decade, and it has become one of the preferred job-search techniques for graduates. However, statistically, it is also the least effective if used on its own, with a success rate of approximately 4%.
Word of mouth is the most effective way to get hired. With more than half of all hiring done through referrals, it is critical for jobseekers to leverage their professional and social networks to get an inside track on a job. Inform friends, trusted colleagues and even relatives that you are actively looking for a job, and ask them to look out for any opportunities. Many jobs are given to people if a relationship already exists. Take advantage of social sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to connect with industry leaders and recruiters, and to show off your unique skills and experience. Post status updates on Facebook, tweet now and then, and post interesting links to your social networking pages. Staying in touch reminds your connections who you are and that you care about how they are doing.
7. Get professional help
When you are searching for a job, you might consider getting some help from recruiters or employment agencies, which can be excellent resources for job leads. Attend career workshops presented by the Careers Office, and/or ask a professional CV writer to help you compile your CV and covering letter.
8. Prepare for the interview
Dress appropriately to create a professional impression. Do research about the company, and show your interest in this company. Prepare answers for common interview questions. Book a mock interview at the Careers Office as part of your interview preparation.
Whether you submit your CV online or in hard copy, you have to follow up on your application. Show your interest in the position by following up via e-mail messages or phone calls. Always send a thank you note after an interview. If you have not heard from the company within the time frame they indicated, politely follow up and show your interest in the position and company. Employers have more regard for candidates who take the time to do a follow-up.
10. Do not let rejection get you down
As time passes, rejections mount up and the budget gets tighter, it is easy to become disheartened. Most people will experience rejection during a search for a new job. However, this is exactly the time you need to dust yourself off and put in more hard work than ever. Rather than letting it get you down, learn from each rejection and refine your strategy. In today’s tight economy, it is also important to be realistic and expect your job hunt to take some time. If you receive no replies or outright rejections when you apply for a job, you should ask why. Determine whether it is because you are positioning yourself incorrectly, or because you are not effectively communicating your skills and experience.
Updated: 10 October 2016