Once you get a job interview, you are already half way through the process of getting hired. It means that you stood out among tons of applicants so much that your potential employer wants to meet you. Most articles give tips on how to stand out during a job interview but rarely will someone tell you how to actually get a job interview in the first place, which is actually the hardest part. In most cases, you may have to apply to 10 or more jobs without a single call back and if you’re lucky, only one company will call you back.
This article breaks down what you can do during your job search period to position yourself better for your dream job.
The days of having a great C.V and cover letter that showed off your qualifications are sadly long gone. In this generation, it is much harder to get a job simply by sending out your application and that’s it. Most employers are looking for a complete package; personality, qualifications and the ability to fit into the organization culture. This is why it is essential to network as much as possible during your job search.
Follow sites like Eventsbrite and Kenya Buzz to be updated with which events are happening in your industry, look out for free conferences and workshops where you will get to meet decision makers in your field and have the opportunity to make a great first impression. In order to stand out, have a 15 second pitch already prepared in your mind highlighting your strong points so that you don’t get ‘blank’ when you are in front of an important person.
The internet is also a great place to network and meet potential employers thanks to social media. LinkedIn is a great place to start. Build a great professional profile and make connections with people who could be instrumental to your career.
Brand Yourself on Social Media
If you are actively searching for a job, social media can be much more than sharing photos and staying updated on your friend’s lives. If you are wise, social media can be a place where you can position yourself for a job, network with potential employers and showcase your skills in order to stand out. Here are a few tips to guide you through social media;
Work on your personal profile on linkedIn; As mentioned above, linkedin is a great place to showcase your experience. Through their LinkedIn Jobs feature, you can apply for opportunities directly.
Make use of twitter since it is a great place to establish yourself as a thought leader, join conversations about topics in your industry and engage with influencers and take part in tweet chats. Popular twitter chats you can check out are #AfricaTweetChat and #WeTalkBiz
Also follow the companies you’d like to work for, that way you get a feel of the company culture, and see potential ways in which you can add value.
Whenever you go to any events or conferences in your industry, tweet about it, share it in your social media platforms, this will boost your professional brand.
Start a blog/vlog – During your free time as a job seeker, consider starting a blog or vlog about a topic you are passionate about will not only help you be more productive but also build a brand for yourself and stand out.
Use your real name on social media. This not only shows maturity but also helps create a consistent brand.
Be careful about small things like grammar and punctuation as you post online since all these create an impression.
The wait after submitting your job application can be nerve wracking. However, instead of just hoping for the best, you can follow up with the company after some time on the status of your application. This is one way to stand out from other applicants. However, you need to be careful not to seem pushy or desperate for the job.
Give it at least one or two weeks before following up. If you know someone in the company, you can reach out and ask for the status of the application.
Following up with a phone call is also effective, find the company’s website and get their contacts.
You can also write a follow up email with a clear subject line, e.g, “Following up on Job Application for Finance Manager”
If you don’t get feedback after following up, move on, do not write more emails. Keep applying for other jobs and be open minded.
Choose your referees wisely
Referees may be the last thing at the bottom of your C.V and you might even ignore or fail to update this part but a referee can make or break your chances of getting a call back.
Choosing the right referee is a crucial part of your job hunt since they can affect a potential employer’s decision to hire or not to hire. Employers call referees to get information about work experience, your skills, your character and to back up what’s in your C.V.
Ideally, you should have a previous employers as referees, avoid putting up your family and friends since they are biased and won’t be taken seriously. If you haven’t been employed yet, you can put up names of people you have worked closely whether it is through church volunteering or other minor jobs.
Putting up your current employer as a referee can be risky especially if you don’t want them to know you are looking for a new job. Choose someone you have a good relationship with.
It is also important to tell a referee in advance before listing them so that they are psychologically prepared when that call comes in.
Have a stand out CV and Cover Letter
In this competitive world, recruiters receive tons of applications and you really have to be different to stand out from the crowd. Here are some tips to have your CV stand out;
Attach a portfolio to go with your CV. The portfolio should include links to your body of work.
Instead of just sending out your written CV, share a video of yourself pitching instead.
Design your CV creatively; find free/paid CV templates online and use them.
Under work experience, focus more on your achievements and not responsibilities.
In your cover letter, on top of expressing your interest in the job, also demonstrate your knowledge in industry trends and insights.
Just like businesses do, you too should have a unique selling point (USP). Whether it’s a blog you write that is doing well, some volunteer work you have done or you have a huge social media following.
Ensure your CV is not more than 2 pages.
What tips do you use in your job search? Share them in the comment section and let’s learn together.