Finding it hard to get that first job? Feeling like giving up? Wanting to move back in with the parents? Don’t just yet as there are some easy things to do that can help you land even that perfect job you have been dreaming of your whole life.
According to Katherine Varner, the acting regional manager at Harambee Youth Employment Accelerator in KwaZulu-Natal, the number one tip for finding a job is to “build your network”.
“Ask everyone you know from former teachers, family, friends and even acquaintances for job leads or references.”
Varner also suggests that you apply for jobs that are close to where you live. Furthermore, the long travel to work can also be time-consuming, so you must look for opportunities that are preferably no more than one taxi ride or a short distance away by car if you drive.
Of course, experience is key. “Grab any experience that you can get, be it through volunteering, internships or learnerships. These offer a chance to become more employable because you will be learning the skills that will make you more likely to succeed in the workplace.”
Also use one cellphone number when looking for a job and then keep that phone on and fully charged, and answer calls in a professional manner. Future employers do not take kindly to unanswered calls.
Key characteristics employers look for in a new intern
Employers are looking for candidates who:
• are able to communicate well;
• can manage their time efficiently;
• can work in a team;
• have a positive attitude;
• are confident;
• are curious and inquisitive, listen to instructions and ask questions when they don’t know;
• are punctual;
• are enthusiastic;
• are willing to work hard.
Make a good impression even before the interview or shortlist
• Job seekers should be easily contactable. Check and respond to e-mails. Answer your phone every time it rings.
• When communicating with an employer, answer clearly and professionally.
• Ensure that the information provided in your CV matches what you communicate verbally.
• Always arrive early for appointments. Greet the employer with a firm handshake and a big smile to create a positive first impression.
The pitfalls for most graduates of getting into the job market
• Graduates often don’t know what to expect from the working world. Learn all you can about the industry and organisation.
• There are many organisations that can prepare young job seekers with tips on what prospective employers will expect from them.
How to stay motivated
1. Be persistent: Never give up.
2. Treat your job search like a 9-5 job. Wake up early, take a lunch break and end your job search activities before dinner.
3. Have a set to-do list. Include detailed specific tasks that you can tick off. The tasks can include things like contacting two prospective employers each day or speaking to friends and learning about their successes.
4. Look for career role models. Search for people who have your dream job. See what their path was (it more than likely wasn’t a straight line). You can ask them for advice.
5. Ask for constructive criticism from your network. Ask your family and friends for tips on how you can improve your “elevator pitch” of why someone should hire you. Practise it.
6. Take time off from job hunting. Schedule time for yourself with activities that are fun, interesting or challenging. By taking some time off, you’ll be able to better tackle the job search later.
7. Get involved in your community. Being part of a community is great for networking. You can pick up useful work readiness skills being a part of a community sports team or helping out at your church, local club or community organisation.
8. Volunteering is a great way to keep occupied and motivated. It can be at a charity organisation or a small local business.
9. Join a job search club/network. You’ll meet people in a similar situation that you can exchange tips with.
10. Move on quickly. It is easy to become obsessed with waiting for a reply from a prospective employer. However, if you do not hear any response or if you do not get the job, move on. Focus on the next opportunity.
11. Celebrate small victories. It is easy to focus on the negative during a job search, such as the interview you didn’t land or the job you didn’t get. Instead, focus on even the smallest wins. Pat yourself on the back when you make a new LinkedIn connection, learn a new skill or improve the way you sell yourself. Celebrating the small wins will help you focus on the positive.
Some of the fields that are good for youth graduates
• A total 80% of entry-level jobs are found in retail, hospitality and small businesses, mostly in the service or sales industries.
• Small and medium businesses are also often looking to hire young, enthusiastic people who are willing to learn and grow within the business.
Other tips that will help you get a foot in the door
1. Keep your CV short and tidy. Not more than 2 pages.
2. Make sure you have an e-mail address to include on your CV.
3. Make your cover letter count with sharp and intelligent content. Stick to the requirements of the job application.
4. Make sure your social media presence is professional. An active Twitter account showing your industry knowledge is a definite plus.
5. Make professional friendships and keep them.
6. Walk before you can run. Sometimes a smaller company will give you the skills you need to get to that big corporate you have been eyeing.
7. Learn everything you need to know about the prospective employer.
8. Speak with an expert in the industry before you go in for an internship. Learn all you need to know about the trade or industry.
9. Think about finding a mentor to guide you through your search.
10. Learn as you go along.