The Art of Job Hunting – Part 1

“Job hunting is an easy and fun task” said no one ever. I do believe that it’s the most tiresome and frustrating thing ever. To add insult to the injury, most companies do not even have the courtesy to advise you if your application was received and/or declined. In all fairness a lot of them have adopted adding the line “If you have not been contacted within two weeks, please consider your application unsuccessful” to their ads. Kudos to them and thumbs down to the ones that don’t bother.

If you’re unemployed or stuck in a dead end job and feel the need to enter the job market, this is for you. I’ve been around the block a few times and although I’m no expert I have a few handy tips for job hunters. During the next few blogs I will advise you how to start the process viz. deciding what you’re looking for and most importantly the salary, run through a good-to-know list, let you in on good CV writing and why it is important to write a cover letter as well as interview tips and mistakes.

At this time I also need to break it to you that these days a matric certificate guarantees jobs at factories and not much else. I’m not saying that you need a bachelors degree to find a good job because let’s face it, with our economy today you’ll find many university graduates working at local retail outlets because there are just no jobs. Don’t give up hope just yet though. It’s really not all that bad because you can still find that coveted job provided you do some planning and make work of your job hunting.

You’ve just entered the job market, now what?

First you need to establish what type of position you’re after and what your skills are. Experience is a factor as well but we’ll get to that later (a blog or few later).

This is where you take time out and write down your strengths, skills and anything relevant to the position you’re after. It is not the time to sit with your head in the clouds and wish for that high paying office job when you don’t know Excel or your typing speed is based on one finger typing. You actually have to write it down.

Visit sites like Gumtree, Indeed and Careers24 and try to match your skills with the positions similar to the one/s you’re looking for. Also look at the way advertisers word the job specifications. You may just want to phrase your skills like that on your CV or include it in your cover letter.

Make sure that you have an updated CV on hand and save a copy on your smartphone or tablet so you can email it to a prospective employer or upload it to a site at a moments notice. You may want to type a generic cover letter too to add to your application/s. Just remember that since it will be generic you may have to change the wording every once in a while depending on whether you’re applying to a company directly or to a recruitment agency.

Create alerts for certain positions and every time a position is advertised you’ll receive an email notification. Don’t stop there though. Check sites regularly for updates. I’ve noticed that some employers don’t always post ads in the category that it’s intended. Yes we’re all human and make mistakes. It’s important to remember that during those times when you feel intimidated or nervous at an interview.

Now about the money honey. We all want o earn top dollar at our jobs but do you know what you’re worth? I happen to think I’m priceless but in real life I know that employers pay certain amounts for certain jobs. Have you checked what the market related salary is for the position you want? Go have a look and again match it to your skills and decide on what you want, need and what you’d be willing to settle for. Honestly people there are plenty of companies that pay below the belt but it comes down to whether or not you want to settle for less.

My next point is location. A few factors to consider is commuting to and from work. Is it safe? If you make use of public transport, how much time and money will you spend on it? Will you be able to get to work timeously every morning? I’m not going to apply for any jobs where traveling may be awkward but that’s just me.

Then the ultimate deal breaker for me is working hours. I’ve got three kids and a husband whom I need to give attention and affection everyday, so my working hours should allow me to see them for at least a few hours everyday (naturally before and after work). No working on weekends either. Usually not negotiable but should I have to ever put in a few hours on a Saturday once in a while (my while equals a year) it would be ok I guess. You should know when and where to draw the line but also be flexible. Enough about me though. Have you established what you want and need regarding working hours?

Good-to-know tip of the day:
If you don’t have a cover letter yet get typing! I can’t stress that enough. Apart from your CV, that is your first point of contact with a prospective employer and that is your marketing tool. It may be tempting to lie in this letter to make you sound more attractive on paper but I’d strongly advise against that. You shouldn’t have to lie to sell yourself. It comes down to using proper language and grammar to impress them. Articulation is they key.

It is my sincere hope that every job seeker out there realizes that job hunting is not a case of beggars can’t be choosers. Essentially when you are employed you get paid for services rendered. You will be spending 80% of your time at work therefore you need to be specific and not settle for anything less that what you’re satisfied with. If you’ve found this article useful, drop me a comment. Also if you have any other tips to share, please feel free to share that knowledge with me too.

In my next article I will share some CV writing skills and give you a few examples of cover letters. You may just see why I’ve had responses to 99% of my job applications this week when I only started my hunt on Monday.


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