By Belinda Unterslak, Synthesis Events and Marketing Coordinator
Late one evening a few weeks ago, Synthesis was tagged in a Twitter thread that discussed what people need money for and how much. We were tagged in the post as someone wanted to develop their app with us. When we read this thread, we saw the profound impact that COVID-19 has had on people. We asked what we could do to help and then we realised there were many people who were suddenly out of a job or new to the market who were struggling to find employment.
As a result, we tapped into our team to share job finding skills and we partnered with Afrika Tikkun Services. The Kickstart Your Career event was borne.
But how do you get your foot (back) in the door?
There are many facets that come into play. It is about your CV, who to approach and how you conduct yourself in the interview. Some of these aspects are misunderstood by many job seekers.
The starting point of this should be your CV. It is your first impression. “You have a limited time to make an impact amongst the hundreds of others applying for your dream job,” says Deborah Miller, Synthesis Talent Acquisition Specialist.
“Your CV is your most powerful marketing tool. It is a completely unique document outlining who you are, what makes you unique, why you are the best in the business,” explains Miller.
Miller took a deep dive into the essentials of CV creation such as:
- Length: Ensure your CV is no more than two pages long and choose a clear and legible font (size 11).
- Layout: Your name must be at the top of your page in larger font size, centralised and bold. It is important to follow this with your email address, contact number and suburb in which you reside.
- Personal statement: This should be included directly under your contact details. This should cover who you are, how you can add value and your career aims.
- Education: Include qualification, subject, grade, institution, and date of achievement.
- Employment history: List your most recent role first. In terms of layout, list your job title and company of employment and dates of employment.
- Tailor your CV to each job you apply for.
- List any additional skills or information that will strengthen your application such as: training, language, relevant awards or membership of professional bodies.
“Recruiters spend just 75 seconds reading your CV. CVs may be easily rejected due to bad grammar, spelling or visual layout,” explains Miller. It is important to be clear and concise.
Expanding opportunities and the search
Lerato Ramatseba, Afrika Tikkun Services Project Manager – Talent Hub, mentioned that, there are free courses online that you can utilise to enhance a skillset and build your CV. Opportunities can be found by creating partnerships, networking, improving your CV and skills, as well as expanding your job search to social media, websites and approaching companies directly. “Whatever you put on your social media will determine your tomorrow,” explains Ramatseba.
According to Ramatseba, ensure you have a search plan and to put aside time to search for jobs. “Spend 70% of your time on networking, 30% should be applying for jobs online”. Do not expect to be called in after applying for one job.
In light of the current Covid-19 pandemic, Ramatseba encouraged the attendees that they can also create their own opportunities: “In crises there are always new needs, and they change the rules. The rules that change can create opportunities for other individuals”.
Once you are called in for an interview, it is important to be thoroughly prepared. Miller pointed out a few interview tips:
- Prepare answers for common interview questions
- Devise a few questions for the interviewer as this is a two-way interview, you need to also find out if it is a match for you
- Research the interviewer
- Research the industry and company
- Make the most of the “tell me about yourself question”
- Clarify your selling points
- Anticipate the interviewer’s concerns and reservations
- Be prepared for “behavior-based” questions
- Dress appropriately
- Stay calm
In an interview, you have a short space of time to sell yourself. Elmarie Grant, Synthesis Head of Academy, provided ideas how you can put your best foot forward, and kickstart your personal impact.
Grant provides three tips you must think about to stand out:
- Your personal brand. “Our personal brand is the set of associations that people could make around us. You as a brand are bigger than just who you are right now”.
According to Grant, a brand is establishing and promoting what you stand for. Your brand is the unique combination of skills and experiences that make you, you. Combining everything that you are: your skills, experience, personality, strengths, weaknesses and quirks. It will differentiate you from other professionals in your field. It is important to remember to be honest. Everything you say that are you are must be congruent to who you really are.
To determine your personal brand, you would need to describe what it is that makes you unique. Ways in which this could be done are by using three descriptive words that would mean something to your prospective employer, think about what your skill actually means and answer the “so what” questions that your prospective employer may be thinking. Do not only identify what makes you unique, provide an example of it and how it might work in the workplace. Instead of describing yourself as kind, you can elaborate on this by saying “I am an excellent team worker because I take into account the feelings and emotions of the people around me”. Employers want to know what you can bring to their organisation.
- The dreaded question that all interviewers ask, “so tell me about yourself”. Instead of the general answer of who you are and how old you are, Grant displayed how you can get creative and confident in your answer in crafting a brand statement. You can try this by completing the area in red in the image below.
Grant showed that if you take the most compelling piece out of the brand statement, you can give an interviewer a good sense of who you are and what you are all about in a unique and memorable way. This will assist you in your thinking of what you want to deliver.
Projecting confidence is quietly knowing who you are and she provided two tips for this:
Tip 1: Embodied or enclosed cognition is a school of psychology that says what happens to bodies influences the mind. In a piece of psychology, the term enclosed cognition explains the effect which clothing has on a person’s mental process. If you dress like you are confident and successful, your mind will assume that, and you will in turn project that.
Tip 2: Fake it ‘till you make it. Standing properly can make a person feel more confident. This will give your body a sense of confidence that your mind will follow. Believe in yourself!
Synthesis Howard Feldman advises: “Be authentic. The one thing it is okay to fake is confidence. The more you project confidence, the more you feel confident.”
Feldman summed it up succinctly: “We live in a country where there are real challenges, but we also live in a county of tremendous opportunity.”