The year is still young, and you may still want to change your current job for a different challenge.
You could also be looking for your first gig altogether.
With limited opportunities in the job market, outstripped by the number of active job seekers, employers are going for the top talent available.
But having the right mix of competencies alone will not get you your dream job. As seasoned HR experts tell us, your job search tools could make the difference.
Utilising smart and dynamic hacks in your job search boosts your odds while relying on traditional resources, used by every job seeker, limits your chances.
In an age when artificial intelligence is used in the recruitment process, you must be on top of your game to stand a chance. Get your note book out.
“Offering your services for free enables you to perfect your skills and enhance your professional visibility.”
Job opportunities are hard to come by these days. Do not be too fussy about what you want to do. Be open-minded and ready to explore any available opportunities. To widen your scope of competencies and to have an upper hand in your job search, gather as much knowledge in as many areas as you can. A media professional, for instance, should navigate the world of corporate communication with considerable ease. Keep tabs on current trends in your profession and other related careers.
Volunteer work is becoming a popular gateway to permanent employment within most institutions. Offering your services for free enables you to perfect your skills and enhance your professional visibility. Few organisations will trust you to deliver without tangible proof of what you can do. And what a better way to prove your case than working as a volunteer?
At the end of each of your professional engagements, demand a recommendation, preferably on LinkedIn. Even after volunteering at a company.
Never leave without recommendation. Your word is as good as that, but having a credible referee always helps.
Being specific on what you want to do makes your job search less strenuous.
It is also easier to convince potential employers when you are able to express your career goals more clearly.
Remember you will be hired only if you can add value to an organisation. Be aware of your strengths and highlight these.
“A résumé is an old school way of looking for a job.”
Do not underestimate the power of social media. Serious professionals have got their career breakthrough on social media.
Make your Facebook page professional. Brand it appropriately by posting features that relate to your profession.
Besides sharing humorous posts, share serious content about your career too. Share your value, skills, experiences and passions.
Ask your friends to re-share your posts. More than in any other time in history, these days, people are being hired for the value they add to organisations than for the content of their résumés.
Rather than sending your impersonal CV to 20 different organisations, why not share your capabilities on social media instead? A résumé is an old school way of looking for a job.
Avoid advertising your needs on social media. When you share content, share from a perspective of value, not need.
Neediness is creepiness. It repels people who might want to help you.
No one will care to read your profile no matter how well it is presented if you come across as needy.
Be deliberate about who you add on your social media circle. See your friends as a pond from which you can fish for value.
It is meaningless to have 3,000 followers on social media if none among them can help you to advance your job search.
As you search for a job, be authentic and present an honest version of yourself. Recruiters know how to detect and destroy deception. It is easier to build and maintain a true image than to keep up with a misleading brand.
You could use social media to build your personality in reality.
Do not just have a dormant profile on LinkedIn. This networking platform offers you a free blog where you can post content relevant to your profession.
Utilise this to the maximum. Build your account in a way that makes it easy for you to be found. Brand yourself by listing your skills and indicate that you are open for a job.
If need be, have an account on YouTube and share your story through videos. Some skills are best demonstrated through doing. If you are a graduate engineer with a prototype, for instance, YouTube should be close to your heart. Who will believe that you actually went to that university? Who knows that you possess a certain skill-set? People are only able to believe this if there is proof.
Additionally, synchronise your online presence such that your personality on LinkedIn is supported by what you portray on Twitter and other online sites. Inconsistencies only serve to cause doubts about you.
As you step up your job search this year, remember to maximise your use of social media. Find out who is looking for what skills and apply for the job if you meet the requirements.
Social media is free and accessible on your smartphone.
Head of Human Resources, Copy Cat Limited
“An up-to-date LinkedIn profile is an important job search tool as a strong résumé.”
How does your online profile look like? Is there anything that could potentially jeopardise your job search? As a smart job seeker, search your name on Google and see what results appear.
If you find content that concerns you, make an effort to have it removed.
Cleaning up digital dirt associated with your name helps you to maintain a digital footprint that is recruiter-ready.
While it may appear virtually harmless, it matters a lot who has access to your online profile. This year, double-check your privacy settings on social media.
Only people very close to you should have access to intimate information about you on Facebook, for instance.
Photos that you post on social media might seem innocent until they ruin your chance of clinching your dream job –usually when you least expect it.
An up-to-date LinkedIn profile is an important job search tool as a strong résumé.
Today, head-hunters contact candidates on LinkedIn long before they post a job opening.
A strong LinkedIn profile not only acts as a résumé and a networking site, but also as a personal branding resource.
When someone searches your name online, your LinkedIn profile appears as the first or second result, making LinkedIn a powerful tool. Clients, competitors, associates and potential employers will always search you online.
LinkedIn is also a more efficient way to manage your networks. Already, some employers are relying on professionals’ visibility on LinkedIn to determine their suitability.
It is easy to dismiss job alerts on email and through text messages. Sign up for these automatic alerts, you never know when a suitable opportunity will come your way.
This way, you will be the first to know when new jobs arise.
To activate alerts, visit your favourite job boards such as Corporate Staffing, My Jobs in Kenya or Brighter Monday and create alerts for selected job titles and companies you would like to work for.
If you are still in university, career fairs give you the first real opportunity to interact with players in the job market.
You get to know what areas of business exist, what skills are required and what values these businesses stand for.
From success stories of different professionals, you get the inspiration to do better. Besides, some of the firms you get to interact with have management trainee or internships programmes that you can apply for.
Don’t allow your résumé to gather dust somewhere in a folder. This is so especially when you have an ongoing job.
With the turbulent professional and business world, you never know what tomorrow holds. You may be engaged today only to be out of work tomorrow.
By keeping your résumé up to date, you are able to respond to opportunities that come up in a timely manner.
Updating a CV is not an easy task as most job seekers assume.
It requires time and concentration. Your résumé changes every day as long as you remain actively engaged in your profession.
Professional recruiting firms such as Corporate Staffing can help you to write a solid résumé based on your competencies and experience. Update your CV at least once every year.
Senior Human Resources Manager, Judiciary
“Research for the keywords that employers are looking for and incorporate them in your CV.”
It is one thing to build contacts and another to utilise these networks.
People in your circle know you and what opportunities you are looking for.
They will help you with either relevant information, or recommend you to potential employers.
Actively engage your networks this year because more and more organisations are relying on referrals to fill vacant positions within them.
Network in person and online. Network in all settings, including informal places, such as in church and at the gym.
Making an introduction that gives a strong impression about oneself is a challenge for most millennials.
Be purposeful when introducing yourself. Start making it clear that you are searching for a job and that you would wish your contact person to help out.
You may want to start practicing your introductory statement.
Organisations are using smart recruitment tools such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) these days to shortlist candidates for job openings.
AI is used to scan for certain words in CVs before they are looked at by human beings. Research for the keywords that employers are looking for and incorporate them in your CV.
To be considered, you must be smarter. You will continue to be jobless as long as your résumé lacks these words.
To enhance your application, start polishing your skills and writing down success stories that demonstrate what you did for your previous employers.
Today’s recruiter is hard to please and very keen on a candidate’s past achievements.
Your technical or interpersonal skills may be top-notch, but nothing beats a success story, which comes in handy during an interview.
Be bold enough to apply for jobs even if you are not a perfect match. In most cases, the technical aspects of a job are learnt on the job and most employers facilitate this through induction and on-boarding programmes.
What matters most is a good mix of the right attitude, a strong understanding of the business of the organisation and the role of that position in delivering the organisation’s goals.
Many candidates fail during interviews by demonstrating ignorance about the organisation they hope to work for. It is embarrassing to lose an opportunity simply because you failed to do your homework.
Once you are shortlisted for an interview, take your time to research on the company to understand its core mandate, values, vision and mission.
Having prior knowledge of the organisation gives you the confidence to articulate yourself more candidly and makes your case even stronger.
The labour market is experiencing tremendous changes. Flexible and non-standard employment arrangements are popular and fast replacing the traditional full-time jobs, to the delight of many millennials.
To survive, be flexible and agile.
Do not dismiss freelancing, sub-contracting, homeworking and flexi-time opportunities where pay is determined by results, rather than the number of hours clocked.
There is a widespread and erroneous notion among most job seekers today that only online job applications matter.
There may be companies that accept only digital job applications but many more companies both online and offline applications.
Do not limit your job search to online applications.
To increase your visibility, apply offline too. Your résumé may land on just about the right desk.
Reach out directly to companies that you would like to work for. Get in touch with people who work in these companies who can share valuable information about the company with you.
This information will be useful as you market yourself to your potential employer.
Do not be too carried away perfecting your résumé. Unless your potential employer is a very small enterprise, your CV stands a very thin chance of being seen. Focus instead on boosting your online presence and presentations and review these regularly.
Utilise platforms such as LinkedIn to share your talents and previous projects. This way, you will grow your visibility.
Do not treat your résumé as a one-size-fits-all tool for job searching.
Instead of sending a general CV for every chance, tailor it for each opportunity and give prominence to the competencies and experience that suit the specific job opening.
As a job seeker, it helps to reflect on exactly the kind of job you are looking for.
If, for instance, you already have one, what are the reasons compelling you to look for another job?
Are you looking for a new title, a bigger challenge, more money, greater satisfaction?
If it is a new job, narrow down your expectations to the organisations you wish to pursue, research and keep focused.