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The Interview

The Interview

You’ve been applying for positions, and finally that call comes that you have been waiting for. You are invited to attend an interview – now what?

We will cover this over the next few weeks, assisting you with preparation through to the follow-up.

Before the Interview:

The first step is to research the company, make sure you know where they are situated and that they are legitimate. Then go onto their website or social media platforms and learn about the company’s mission, goals, their culture and their management structure. Organisations look to hire people with similar values and being able to discuss these points will impress the interviewer.

Then go back to the job advert and read through the description, this will prepare you for any questions they might ask. Also take the time to review your CV, make sure you know off-hand the information in your CV.

One of the most important points is to prepare potential questions you may be asked and how you will answer these. Align your answers with the details in your CV and their job description, but also always be honest. To be better prepared, you can ask a family member or friend to mock interview you, using these questions.

 

Potential questions and how to reply:

  • Tell me about yourself:

An interviewer’s favourite opening question, but this is to get to know you and to break the ice. So maybe start with something personal and interesting, as an example – if your research revealed that they are a company that cares about the environment, tell them about your recycling habits. Volunteer work, charity initiatives and community upliftment is always a good conversation starter. Also personal achievements – running the comrades, local boxing champion, selling a personal painting, or similar. You can then ease into personal traits that also relate to business – I consider myself to be friendly, dependable, hard-working, positive, etc.

 

  • What are your strengths:

Here’s your chance to elaborate on the qualities that make you a good employee, so discuss attributes that will best qualify you for the specific job and set you apart from the other candidates. On your list you can include your education, soft skills, hard skills or past work experiences. Keep your list to five or six particularly strong skills and next to each skill, write an example of how you applied that strength.
An example:
I pride myself on my customer service skills, with five years’ experience as a customer service agent I have learned to understand and resolve customer issues effectively. I also have strong communication skills, which help me to work well with customers, team members and management.

Potential Q&A’s will continue in our next article.

Stay safe!

Applying for a Job

Applying for a Job

Your CV is polished and your Cover Letter is professional, now you want to start looking for suitable positions.

There are many options to consider – you can browse through:
 

  1. Social Media

LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are very popular platforms for networking, they provide an interactive and responsive avenue when job hunting. A word of warning though, be watchful of what you place on these sites.

For example, if you see a job on Facebook that you like – read the advert very carefully. If it asks you to follow a link, apply online or email the advertiser directly, do not comment with your cellphone number or say ‘interested’, this will create a bad impression and you will not be considered.

Potential employers also use social media to vet their candidates, so please ensure that your footprint is clean. Rather remove profanities, inappropriate pictures, political or topical rants that could be viewed as offensive.

Use your real name, avoid cute nicknames or ‘cool’ identities.

When it comes to LinkedIn, set up a profile that is professional and closely linked to your CV. Set up specific key words on your profile that accurately suit the type of position that you are looking for.

 

  1. Job Portals

Job portals expose you to a vast variety of positions within South Africa and abroad with the option of searching through hundreds of new positions. You can register your CV online, which may be viewed by any number of employers and recruiters, thus increasing your chances of getting noticed.

 

  1. Recruitment Agents

There are many reputable recruitment agencies in South Africa that are hired by employers to advertise vacancies and vet incoming applicants. It is advisable to register your CV with a recruitment agent in the event that they receive a position that matches your skill set. You can also browse through their available jobs on their websites and Facebook sites.

 

  1. Newspapers

Job classified sections of the paper can be viewed locally in the newspaper, or nationally online. The advantage of your local news print is that the employer focuses on a specific geographic audience and is usually looking to hire locally.

 

  1. Networking

Chat to your friends, family, social groups, church members, etc. and let them know that you are available. Word of mouth job referrals are possibly one of the most successful ways employers fill their job vacancies.

 

  1. Market your CV

Is there a company or specific industry that you have always wanted to work for?

Visit their corporate website or Facebook page to see if there are any openings, or try contacting their HR department to enquire about any opportunities. If there are no jobs, politely ask if you may send your CV for future reference. Be sure to have researched information regarding the company and what value you can offer the organisation.

 

There are a lot of new positions posted daily on these platforms, so job hunting can become a bit daunting. Perhaps refine your search criteria using keywords.

Don’t make the mistake of applying for everything you think you may like – this will become tedious and soul destroying.

When you find the right position and you are ready to send off your CV and cover letter, or an online CV – please read through the requirements to ensure that you match with most of them. Then check the application instructions – don’t send through unnecessary documents and qualifications if it is not asked for. This may get you eliminated from the short-listing process as it will just annoy the recruiter, and it indicates that you do not follow instructions.

 

A very important point to remember when applying for a job is to use a reference – either the job title or the specific reference in the advert that has been indicated by the recruiter. Please do not just send your application or CV without any indication of why you are applying. Many agents advertise more than one position and they do not have time to determine which job you are applying for, this will get you disqualified immediately.

 

We wish you success.

 

Stay safe.

Your Cover Letter

Your Cover Letter

Your CV is looking polished and now you want to start applying for suitable positions.

Where to from here?

Start by constructing a Cover Letter.
You should always send a cover letter to accompany your CV – unless the job advert specifically states otherwise, or you are filling in an online application.

Your cover letter is an opportunity to give the recruiter a brief glimpse of the potential success you bring with you. Your skills, experience, personality and communication skills – first impressions are key so be honest, genuine and professional.

1) Start with a warm and professional greeting:
This person is considering hiring you, so catch and keep the reader’s interest. Your opening should encourage them to think of you as someone they’d like to work with.
If they have stated their name in the advert, then make use of that, for example:
“Dear Mr. Smith,” or “Dear Lisa,”
If there is no name, then try:
“Dear H.R. Manager,” or “Dear Recruiter,”

Please avoid using generic statements like “to whom it may concern”.

2) Then get to the point:
Your cover letter should be no longer than one page, split into 2 or 3 paragraphs. Be both concise and specific, let the employer know why you’re contacting them and highlight what precise skills and qualities make you a good candidate for the job. It’s a good idea to match your experience and skills to the specified job requirements as closely as possible.

As an example:
“I would like to apply for the position of Head of Advertising you recently posted. I am passionate about advertising and entered the world of printing and advertising as an apprentice. Over the course of my 22-year career, I’ve developed a skill set directly relevant to the advertised role you are hiring for.

Having been involved in press, print and through-the-line advertising, I gained experience in all the different print techniques and am fully up to date on all the older and more modern printing techniques. This has provided me with in-depth project, business, communication, leadership, strategic and critical thinking skills.

3) Your closing paragraph:
Illustrate your enthusiasm for getting the position and your availability. Then conclude with your name and contact details:

“I believe that my personal attributes and qualifications will be an asset to your organisation. Attached you will find my Curriculum Vitae for your consideration. I am available for an interview immediately, and am able to start on 1 May 2021 as required.

Regards,
Mr. T. Davids
087 xxx 0000
xxxxx@gmail.com”

4) Check your information:
Before you send, take one last look at the job description.
Review grammar and spelling several times – please check and double check your spelling, it is critical that you do not make errors. This will create a bad impression with the recruiter and call into question your attention to detail, accuracy and professionalism.
Did you address all of their criteria in your cover letter?
If you were the person hiring for this position, would you hire you?
Does your information align with job requirements?

5) Useful tips:
Do not copy and paste your cover letter, tailor a different cover letter for each position.
Avoid repeating word-for-word the information that is already in your CV.
Include keywords from the job advert where possible – this is especially important to avoid being rejected by the latest screening technology.
Make it clear that you are enthusiastic about the position.
Be clear and professional.

Our next article will deal with the application process.

Stay safe.

The Importance of Your CV, part 3

The Importance of Your CV, part 3

With your personal information complete, it’s time to focus on your career history. Employers are looking for candidates who are good at what they do, so concentrate on your professional experience and highlight your good points.

A) Start with your most recent position:
i) The name of the company you work/ed for
ii) The title you hold/held
iii) If you started in one position and moved to another or received promotions, list these in date order
ABC Company
Project Manager November 2018 – Current
Security Supervisor March 2015 – October 2018
National Emergency Assistant January 2013 – February 2015

iv) Indicate your employment dates, not just the duration of employment
National Emergency Assistant for 2 years, rather state January 2013 – February 2015

B) Then describe :
i) What you did, incorporating your responsibilities
ii) Who you managed
iii) Types of projects you managed
iv) Your achievements – this is an important point as the employer must see what you could bring to the team and why you’re the best choice.
Be as specific as possible, for example, if you state increased sales – what does that really mean? Rather say – I increased sales at the company by 30 percent
v) Give short, career enhancing reasons for why you left each position

If there is a substantial gap in your employment record, indicate the reason – as an example: travelled abroad from April 2013 to March 2014.

C) Lastly, you will need to list at least three references. A reference should be an individual in a supervisory or managerial position to whom you reported – not your priest, family member or friend. Do not include your current employer as it will jeopardize your current position.
i) Provide the full name of your reference
ii) Their contact number, many recruiters require a landline number and not a cellphone number
iii) An email address can be added
iv) The name of the company your reference works for
v) The reference’s title at the company
Mr. A. George
HR Manager
ABC Company
011 000 0001

If the specific position you are applying for requires that you attach a photograph of yourself, ensure it is a relatively recent photo. A professional or neat head and shoulders photo should suffice in most instances. Your favourite photo on Facebook or a night out with the friends is never a good idea.

Remember that a CV is a presentation of you, your employment, skills and abilities and is therefore considered a legal document. Leaving out relevant information or indicating incorrect information can result in your CV being discarded, or even worse – dismissal once employed if it is uncovered. Please ensure that the information is always true and correct.

We hope that you have found these tips and hints to be of value, we wish you success.

Stay safe.

The Importance of Your CV continued

The Importance of Your CV continued

Following on from last week’s article, you have now refined your introduction and gained the recruiter’s attention.

 

The next step is your personal information, keep this short and to the point –

a) Full name
b) Area where you currently live (does not have to be the full street address)
c) Date of birth (you no longer need to provide your ID number)
d) Contact number
e) Email address
f) Gender
g) Marital Status (this is optional)
h) Dependants (this is optional)
i) Drivers Licence
j) Languages
k) Computer skills can also be included here – unless you are involved in the IT industry, then you will need a separate heading

 

You can follow your personal section with interests and hobbies but please be aware that this should tie in to your employment. For instance, if you are applying for a job in tourism – you can include travelling, cooking, etc. Do not include reading variety magazines or watching TV, this creates a negative image so rather do not include this portion in your CV.

 

Then you add a very important section that highlights your skills and competencies. Keep it to 10 or 15 lines, use one or two word points to describe:

a) Work related or hard skills (software development; electrical; law; etc)
b) Soft skills (leadership; communication; honest; etc).

As an example –
CORE SKILLS
Electrical                            Maintenance
Fault finding                     Wiring
Fire fighting                      First aid
Planning                            Computer literate
Adaptable                         Time management
Team player                     Multi-tasker

 

Now it’s time to look at your education. Start with the most recent courses and work your way back to Grade 12 and this should include:

a) The full name of the course / degree / diploma
b) The name of the training institute
c) The year in which you passed
d) Only include the subjects passed if they are relevant to the position or career you are involved in
e) If you have completed various courses, especially in-house, you can put these under one sub-heading.

For example –
QUALIFICATIONS & COURSES
Electrical Engineering N6 Certificate:  ABC College (2011)
Senior Certificate Grade 12:  ABC High School (2008)

Training Courses through In-house:
Fire Fighting
First Aid
Hazard Identification
OHS Act

 

That wraps up the personal side of your CV – next up is employment history, references and job hopping.

Stay safe.