Best Practices When Looking for a Job. - Youth Capital

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Best Practices When Looking for a Job.

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We asked Job Advice SA founder Tim Barry, Career Coach Ennie Chipembere and their network of professionals four questions our network often has with regard to job-seeking.

Most jobs require 2 or 3 years work experience but we are out just out of school – how can we get around that?

Experience is not always having done what is specified in the job advert. It’s important to look at the minimum qualifications, skills/competencies and desirable knowledge from the advert; try and match those with anything you have done in your life.

Think about your time in school or church, any social or sport clubs you were part of, and any volunteering or projects you did. That falls under experience and contributes to skills that you can include in your CV. Don’t forget to highlight if you held a position of leadership or responsibility while fulfilling these roles.

Work-shadowing also helps gaining experience: you could even ask friends or family if you can help them out in their jobs to learn more about what they do. 

While you’re at school or varsity you should be looking for summer or part-time jobs as these all count towards work experience on your CV. As a student, you can also gain experience by getting part-time work like tutoring or volunteering some of your free time. These roles teach you invaluable skills such as time management and business etiquette that will really set a solid foundation in your early career.

Don’t forget to identify the experience and skills from these positions and use them in your application. 

There are many different CV templates out there. Which ones should we follow?

Your CV is a working document and your marketing tool. It should speak for you when you are not in the room. Treat each job and company as a unique client, so edit each CV according to the specific employer and the role as the needs and positions are different. Research the organisation so you know what relevant info to include.

There are different types of CVs. A chronological CV may be best for entry level. It highlights your skills, experience, as well as education and training history in sequential order. It provides a timeline of your schooling and career journey.

Make sure that your CV includes:

  • Contact details should be in the top part of CV. Just phone number and email, no home address nor ID. Be reachable and have a specific job-search e-mail using last name and your initials (e.g. ).

  • A personal profile/executive summary on the first page to introduce you and tell the recruiter what you want to do in your career.

  • Educational information relevant to the vacancy. Pay attention to the presentation (a typo, for example, can disqualify you even if you’re the best candidate). Exclude anything frivolous, exaggerated, or untrue.
  • Work history and skill section that include what is relevant  to the position. The competencies required in the job advert or role description should guide you.These are the ones you should profile and link to any relevant transferable experience. In the cover letter express that you are ready to learn.
  • Use quantifiable results where possible to showcase your achievements/skills e.g: Contributed to raising R5000 in food  and blankets during volunteering at Winter Drive project at school.

Keep your CV brief. Don’t include your physical home address only the name of your residential area. It’s not necessary to include your ID number. There are good CV templates on Microsoft Word.

Often we apply for jobs but never receive a response and don’t know why we didn’t make the cut. What is a nice way to request feedback in our applications?

Recruiters are very busy and receive hundreds of applications for most of the jobs they’re recruiting for, so they can’t respond to every person who applied for the job. If the job ad had a deadline wait at least 1 week after that before following up. As a general rule of thumb, if the job was yours, you would be notified.

At the end of the interview you can ask who to follow up with, how best to do it and when to do it. This gives you a good way to follow up at the date of expecting feedback. Do not be afraid to do it; even if they don’t respond, do your part.

When you follow up, frame you request by including words such as feedback to learn and appreciation of the opportunity. Be clear that you are seeking guidance on what to work on for future applications. Use this as feedback and research opportunity to gain understanding of how your profile is viewed by recruiters.Your tone in that email or call matters. Also know that sometimes you will never hear back, be resilient.

Just after your interview send a thank you note. Don’t worry about how this looks, you’re not showing desperation, but appreciating the experience. In the thank you, remind them of one to three traits that would make you a good fit for the position. Let them know you’ll follow up.

Social Capital is very important when job-seeking but as young people we don’t know many people. What are some good tips to help build our social capital?

What a great question! You are very right as your network determines your net worth.

When you are building your professional, and even social, networks online you need to be strategic. Connect and follow people in the industry you want to work in and comment, like, reply and share their posts so that they take notice of you. Make it your job to connect professionally with the outcome of growing your social circle.

Our top tips include:

  • Be wise about the people you choose to spend your time with.
  • Seek guidance from family members, teachers and people whom you admire respect.
  • Leverage social media.

Everyone you come into contact with, offline or online, might be or know someone who could help you out in your career, so be courteous and friendly in every exchange. Don’t just ask for favours and introductions, have meaningful conversations.

Family and teachers/lecturers are a good source of network links. They may not have a job for you but ask them to introduce you to three to five people they know who could assist with advice. Have your CV ready and be clear about your asks; not just a job, but various opportunities to give you experience. When you can, attend college events.

Social media also offer you great opportunities to connect. Participate in chats and share your thoughts. If you are on LinkedIn ask for recommendations from former university classmates or lecturers. Curate your personal profile – be careful about what you share and make sure it’s always aligned to your personal brand. Reach out to people in positions and companies you aspire to join; this shows determination and having a vision for your growth. Always ensure you are kind, respectful of others views and make it clear that you are seeking knowledge to learn. Don’t be shy to connect with people professionally. Many are open to offer advice. 

Ennie wrote a post on how to build a strong social and professional network. Before the end of the chat, Tim expressed his views on the need to be working together to shift gears on youth unemployment.

Do you have questions you would like to pur forward for future chats? Get in touch, we would love to hear from you!

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