Job applicants should observe several basic rules when sending job applications to potential employers. Competition is stiff in the South African economy, so applicants need to ensure their job applications stand out in a good way.
Standing out in a good way means maintaining a professional approach while personalizing each cover letter for the desired position. Use personal information about yourself to achieve this goal, rather than a C.V. that looks as if it is an artwork of imagery.
Get your C.V. up to date
Your C.V. is your personal introduction to a potential employer. Ensure this document contains relevant factual personal information, your work experience and dates, together with formal qualifications.
Make sure your C.V. is concise, and informational, without too much extra information that will make it time-consuming to read through. Always proofread your C.V. to eliminate errors and correct grammar mistakes.
Your professional cover letter
Your cover letter (where requested), is your chance to stand out from the crowd. Don’t simply start writing, but rather follow a pre-set format.
Information about where you sourced the job and its title and reference number (if provided), should be stated in the subject section of your letter. Begin your letter by stating the name of the job position, and why you are interested in the work.
The second paragraph should contain your qualifications and how these are suited to the position. Close off your letter in a third paragraph by thanking the reader for their time, and requesting a response with a set time (such as a month).
Use your initiative
If you don’t receive a reply within a month, pick up the phone to call them or email your potential employer. Should you be lucky enough to speak to the recruiting agent, assure them of your availability to begin work immediately.
Also, assure them that you are willing to begin an internship or do anything it requires to get your foot in the door. You may have a Master’s degree in the S.A. environment but employment opportunities are scarce, so put your pride in your pocket. Having a lowly position is better than not having a job in this market.
Always be professional in your communications
Ensure that your C.V. and cover letter are your initial professional introductions. Follow this up with professional phone calls. Be friendly but don’t use slang, laugh too loudly or make personal comments about the employer, employees or yourself.
Share personal information about what characteristics you believe are suited to doing an excellent job, but recruitment officers are busy. They don’t need to know your history from your childhood.
Does your LinkedIn account reflect a professional attitude?
Include your LinkedIn profile link on your C.V. Your potential employer will be able to get a good idea of who you are from this profile. If you have written any articles that address your job interests, use this platform to help yourself shine.
Did you study marketing? Then write a few articles related to your topic to help get you that desired job. Share with your network, and ask friends and family to help get you more views and shares. Not only will your employer gain insight into your knowledge but they will see how serious you are about your subject (job).
Clean up your social media presence
Unless your social media accounts are going to reflect positively on an employer, block public access to these accounts. No employer wants to see a potential employee lashing out at other businesses (even if they’re a competitor), or see a profile that is filled with dirty jokes or rude comments.
If you have a major following online or are a minor social media influencer, on the other hand, this is definitely something you should share.
Demonstrate an excellent work ethic
Stand out from the crowd by showing your potential employer that you have a strong work ethic. Include this information in your C.V., and let them know you are not a clock-watcher. Also, let them know you are not afraid to work overtime.
In contrast, exercise sufficient assertiveness so that you are not used as slave labour. This is a fine line to walk and balance is important, but ultimately your manager wants to know who they can rely on in a busy, productive environment.
Persistence is key to getting the job you want
Use keywords related to the type of job you want, and search for those on the internet. There are websites that focus on advertising jobs, so find those that work for you. Speak to friends and family members about which sites have provided them with the most success.
Adjust your search parameters if you don’t see the jobs that interest you. Employers may list the same job types under different headings, so broaden your knowledge in this regard and be persistent.
Be prepared to adjust your expectations
You may have set your heart on working as a journalist for a travel magazine, but find that positions are scarce. Send applications out to large media corporations and then adjust your expectations to working for free or working online in the interim to show proof of your talents and willingness to adjust, to your potential employer.
Apply this concept no matter what your studies focused on. You may have a legal degree but cannot get into a large firm. Be innovative and start a website to offer legal advice online until you land your dream job. Stay flexible until that time.
Use your network
Build a network of contacts if you don’t already have one. Speak to family, friends and acquaintances. Let them all know you’re in the market for a job. Your network is a grapevine. Share your job needs, and hope that your request lands in the right place to procure your next job.
A job search can be tough in the South African market, but a professional approach and flexible attitude will add to the value you bring to the workplace. Demonstrate a strong ‘can do’ attitude that says you bring value, without being overly confident, and you improve your chances of success.