So you have now identified what you're good at, what you're not good at, where your passions lie and where you can imagine yourself in five years time. It's now time to go out there and find that dream job and we'll show you how.
You may be quite confused as to where to look, but there are a few guidelines that you can follow to ensure that your CV gets to the right person.
1. Online CV Marketing
The Internet is a fantastic tool for marketing your CV, says Juliette - Director at RecruitMi. It reaches a broad array of people in a short space of time and allows you to get feedback quickly and efficiently. Believe it or not, back in the day you would have to post your CV to the relevant company, then wait about three weeks for a reply letter telling you whether you got the interview or not. This however only happened if your CV actually reached the mail box. There are various career portals that you can make use of to submit your CV. The most popular ones are www.pnet.co.za, www.careerjunction.co.za and www.careers24.co.za. These websites work on pretty similar set-ups. You first need to register your details, e.g. name, ID number, cell phone number, email address, etc, and then upload your CV to the website. This is either the original version or you fill in spaces directly onto the websites. Once you have completed this process your CV will automatically be loaded onto their database. This database is accessible to recruitment agencies and companies that subscribe to these portals. They can access your information by typing in relevant keywords. Your CV will then come up in their search, they will read through it and assess whether you're right for the position or not. They will then contact you directly to find out further details and hopefully set up an interview time. Through these portals you can also apply to advertisements that you see and your CV will be submitted directly to the company responsible for the advert. It is worth your while to browse through these vacancies and identify which ones you are suitable for. Don't apply to positions that you're not qualified or experienced enough for. This merely annoys the advertiser as it wastes their time with CV's that aren't right. For example if the position is for a Project Manager with five years experience in the ICT industry working with Blue Chip clients, and you've just qualified from University, you may feel you can conquer the world , but this job definitely isn't for you. Be realistic and mature about this, apply for positions that you would really love and feel you can add value to. Remember to update your CV every month on these portals so that it comes up at the top of the list when recruiters search.
There are also various portals that don't specifically focus on careers but still advertise vacancies on their websites. Examples are www.bizcommunity.co.za, www.marketingweb.co.za, www.itweb.co.za to name a few. On these websites you will be able to contact the advertiser directly to find out more about the position, or submit your CV directly for the role. These websites will often have relevant information regarding popular careers, positions that you should look at, industry news and various events that are happening in the market place. These websites are built to be informative and current and you could benefit from subscribing to their online newsletters.
Another avenue is to go directly to your dream company's website. Companies will often have a careers section on their website and you can apply for any vacancies that are listed. What may benefit you too is to enquire with the recruitment manager whether you can submit your CV so that they have it on their database for future vacancies. The best is always to pick up the phone and phone the relevant person directly. Introduce yourself and explain the reason you're phoning. This will make a longer lasting impression than merely receiving another long winded email that may end up in junk mail or alternatively never get read. It is worth broadening your search to quite a few of your favourite companies so that your CV really gets great exposure. Try not to put all your eggs in one basket, the more positions you apply to, the greater your chances are of landing that dream role.
2. Getting your CV out there - old school style
Although the Internet has leapfrogged most forms of offline media, there are still the traditional forms that will always be popular, for instance newspapers and magazines. For decades, the newspaper has formed a stable medium for companies to post job advertisements and for applicants to apply for work. Most South African newspapers have a dedicated careers section that is published weekly or daily. In this section you will find various advertisements for jobs in a multitude of industries. You will more than likely be asked to phone a contact or email your CV through for the role. There are career specific newspapers too such as JobMail which will list positions by title. You can buy the JobMail at most retailers on a weekly basis. This process may take a little longer than the online route and you may only receive feedback after a few weeks. Be careful not to answer to adverts that require you to pay for anything. You should not have to spend any money to get a job (besides the petrol to get there). There will also be adverts for "work at home" opportunities, most of which end up being scams to get you to do work for very little reward, or are pyramid schemes. Be wary and open minded, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The positions to respond to are those advertised by recruitment companies, or where the name of the company is given with full job detail and contact details.
3. More interesting ways of finding a job
There are many exciting areas such as exhibitions, open days and internship applications that are geared towards helping career seekers find work. Exhibitions are quite abundant in South Africa, the largest career specific exhibition is The Star Workplace Expo. This exhibition provides a platform for employees and career seekers to interact. It is targeted at the skilled workforce, professionals, graduates and post-graduates, experienced and inexperienced workforce, careerists and unemployed, Grade 11 and 12 learners and Matriculants. It currently runs in Johannesburg and Cape Town annually and features exhibitors from various industries such as finance, IT, manufacturing, construction, trade, retail, recruitment, legal, telecoms, advertising, travel & tourism, government parastatals, training institutions, further learning and education and industry specific organisations. At these exhibitions you'll be able to interact with employers and institutions that can help you in your search for the perfect career.
One of the best options to help you kick start your career is to approach a reputable recruitment agency, says Juliette. "Research various recruitment agencies and approach them directly to help you with finding employment." It is important to understand a recruitment organisation's methodologies. This helps to differentiate organisations and helps you to select an agency that would add the most value to your recruitment endeavours. You should identify the following in an agency:
Do they present candidates CVs in hard copy, to ensure the CV is presented to the correct decision maker?
If an agency interviews candidates face-to-face; how thorough is their candidate screening process?
Do they meet with clients face-to-face to gain a comprehensive understanding of their company and job at hand?
Do they have a short but effective turnaround time to fulfil their clients recruitment needs and secure the best human resources available on the market?
You should select an organisation that can offer you the best representation and who would assist you in your future career development and recruitment needs. This can be assessed by continuous and regular communication. If your chosen agency required your supporting documentation and additional necessary information in the beginning of the recruitment process, they would most likely still have your details on record, making it easier to assist you with further career advancements in future. Receiving the best representation includes working closely with an agency that is reputable and has great relationships with their clients.
Recruitment agencies have industry knowledge and experience; they have access to a vast amount of companies and vacancies and can really help guide you and more importantly secure interviews for you. The best agencies emphasise face to face contact, accuracy and a quick turnaround time. Take note of these when working with one and if you're not happy, choose another agency to work with.
4. Self Marketing not Self Destruction
A point which new career seekers often forget is that the world is a big, big place and you probably won't have every listed company knocking on your door begging you to work for them. Job hunting can be scary, lonely and draining so don't get despondent if you hear nothing from the first job you apply to. The best way to stand out from the crowd is to market yourself well. This means networking, meeting influential people, portraying yourself in a professional and mature manner at every encounter. Listen out for where your friends parents work, speak to lecturers, mentors and advisers about whether they know of any companies that you can approach. Friends and family can really help in this instance too with the contacts they may have. If you have always been polite, smart and well mannered you are sure to be remembered by Uncle Bobs second cousin, who works with a guy whose wife is looking for an intern for her new publishing company.
Attend industry functions, exhibitions, company open days and university career open days; speak to whoever you can to make a good impression and to gain more knowledge. The more knowledge you have, the more you can offer in a potential interview and ultimately to a new company.
Self marketing relates to the image you portray to others. This relates to your personal as well as your online image. Make sure that your Facebook profile isn't packed with partying and inappropriate photos and comments and make sure you have the maximum privacy settings on, so that people who don't know you can't see your personal information. Create a LinkedIn profile (www.linkedin.com), this is like Facebook but for professionals and links people together for business purposes. Make sure this profile is professional, clean and informative, stating your education and career interests not "Jack Smith is bored of my work and hung over" type comments. LinkedIn is a fantastic way to network and find people in the industry you're interested in, as well as building a positive online image.
Your personal image is also important and it is therefore valuable to put in an effort with regards to your behaviour, fashion, grooming and personal well being. Take pride in your appearance and radiate confidence and energy. You will end up attracting potential employers towards you, instead of the other way around. Confidence comes from knowing who you are, not following your friends/crowds just because it's "cool". Have your own opinions and stick by them. The more you speak and interact with people that you aspire to, the more confident you'll become. Get out of your comfort zone, take on a challenge and push yourself further then you thought you could ever go. You'll realise soon enough that you've grown leaps and bounds when you look back on yourself a few years later.
5. Additional Information
South Africa is gearing towards creating wealth, growing businesses and furthering start up ventures. Jobs are therefore becoming more abundant and it's a great time to get into the market place. Says Juliette at RecruitMi: "There was a trend in 2009 and 2010 to rather fill more junior roles and train these people up to take over more senior roles in future. As a graduate this is wonderful news for you as companies are growing from the bottom up instead of filling senior roles externally. This means more opportunities for internships, joining companies and being trained up, growth potential and building a stable and long term career with one company. However in 2011 the trend seems to be moving back towards hiring externally at all levels, which is great news for those more experienced career seekers." It is also advisable to not get "bright lights syndrome" where you're only attracted to the big national or international companies. You can learn an enormous amount by joining a small start up company. You may have to learn quite a few disciplines in a very short space of time and in the long run be able to put more on your CV. In a large company you are often overlooked and become just a number, crunching away at the same job day in and day out. In a start up company you often have more opportunity to grow and learn and be involved in a variety of areas. This is of course a personal choice; however don't overlook any opportunities merely on the size of their staff complement.
All in all there are many opportunities available for the youth of South Africa. Our country needs skilled and educated people to grow the economy. The opportunities are not more abundant overseas (especially in the current economic climate) and your chances are still better here to find employment than any other country.