Getting a job is hard, but you can also win

Saturday November 30 2019

Above all, to be a successful job seeker, you need to show an employer that you’re enthusiastic, hard working and self motivated. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP


It’s never been harder to get your first job. Even for graduates.

Partly that’s because employers are losing their faith in qualifications, and so some have even started demanding master's degrees or doctorates.

Others think of your degree as just a basic entry-level requirement and look for other signs that you will be effective in their organisation.

Which can make things very tough. Especially for new graduates who don’t have the work skills that employers want, and don’t know how to get them.

And while job websites and e-mail mean you can easily apply for lots of jobs, they also have a serious downside. Because far too many people just apply for every job on offer. Indiscriminately.

For hundreds of jobs a year. But that means that employers end up receiving thousands of applications for every job. And most of them are no better than spam.



So recruiters can only give each application the very briefest of glances, as they try to spot the winners. Making it even harder for a good guy to stand out.

So what can you do to improve your chances? First of all, make sure you have really good writing skills.

Because creating a high impact application, with perfect grammar, vocabulary and layout, means you’re already miles ahead.

And be sure that you know what jobs you would be good at, what jobs are out there, and where you would best fit in.

Because there are basically two main reasons why a job application fails: you haven’t convinced an employer that you’re suitable for the job, and you haven’t demonstrated that you have the skills you’ll need.

So be sure you know what you want to do — and what skills you will need to truly stand out.


Teaching yourself to be truly expert with spreadsheets, for example, could mean you end up winning a job that on paper you’re completely unqualified for.

Because it really doesn’t matter how you got your knowledge, only what you can do.

Above all, to be a successful job seeker, you need to show an employer that you’re enthusiastic, hard working and self motivated.

Do that by starting to build your CV while you’re still at college, or even at school. Get a paying part time position, because even working in a fast food joint shows you can hold down a tough job, fit in with a team, turn up on time, work hard and keep going under pressure.

And do some voluntary work in your chosen field. Because that gives you the specialist skills no college can ever teach.

And network, network, network. Get to know people in your target organisations while you’re still studying. They’ll tell you all about what goes on there — and tip you off when opportunities arise.

Because having some solid work experience, a network, and an impressive CV by the time you graduate changes everything. And you’ll quickly be in your dream job.

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