Whether you are just starting out with your first foray into the job market or looking to upgrade your current position, applying effective strategies can help make your search easier and more enjoyable…

And if you are wondering just where to start, Branch Manager Merriam Koqo-Hlengane at Boston City Campus & Business College, Maponya Mall provides her top tips on conducting an effective job search.

Setting time aside

Create momentum by allocating a specific amount of time for research, setting up appointments and following up on applications.

“Prepare the night before, setting up your list, notebook and laptop/desktop so that you create an organized infrastructure without any distractions, allowing you to start right away,” says Koqo-Hlengane who suggests setting targets for the day for the number of calls and appointments you want to achieve.

Mindset

It is important to anticipate that there may be some challenging times, when you may experience frustration because things aren’t moving as quickly as you would like.

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It is important to anticipate that there may be some challenging times, when you may experience frustration because things aren’t moving as quickly as you would like.

See this time as a process.  Each action you take will lead you closer to your goal of finding your ideal job.  There may be some days which are relatively quiet.  Be gentle with yourself, knowing that ups and downs are a natural part of life as well as job searching.  The most important thing is to take action, keep the momentum going, having faith in yourself and the process that you will find the right job that will be mutually rewarding for you and your employer. 

Networking

When it comes to making a list of who to contact, think of people who are already in your network and who would be able to make any recommendations where you can apply. These can be former colleagues, managers or people from graduate school. (Boston itself has a consulting office created to assist graduates in job searches). It is also a good idea to go onto LinkedIn and see who you may know and contact.

“LinkedIn is also an excellent place to find jobs in your particular field.  And remember, whether or not you have job experience, a LinkedIn profile can serve as a good advertisement of your competencies and experience to prospective employers and HR managers,” says Koqo-Hlengane.

Your online footprint

It is common practice for future employees to research your online profile in order to find out more about you.  For this reason, a LinkedIn profile can enhance someone’s impression of you. Remember the flip side of the coin is true as well – make sure that your online social media profiles would be acceptable to a potential employer. 

Remember the flip side of the coin is true as well – make sure that your online social media profiles would be acceptable to a potential employer. 

The Covering letter

Once you find a job or company where you want to apply, you will need a covering letter, highlighting your key qualities and experience in relation to the particular job specifications. 

Structure your covering letter in 3 paragraphs as follows:

1st paragraph:  Describe your skills and qualities, illustrating how they can be used for the particular position and the ways in which they will benefit the company.

2nd paragraph:  discuss your experience in relation to the job specifications – give examples in line with the job specifications.  Discuss work you have done and ways in which you made a difference in your previous job and company.  If you don’t have any experience, then  list your key skills that match the outline of the job.

3rd paragraph:   Discuss the job in relation to your professional and personal qualities that make you a good candidate for the position.

Where to look

Google is your friend when it comes to your job search.  Keywords such as your industry + the position you are looking for will bring up specific sites dealing with your particular field and general sites offering relevant positions.

“Searching online helps you to get to know the job market and what is being offered out there,” says Koqo-Hlengane.  “It can also help you to see if you need to brush up on any skills, so that you can take the appropriate steps to increasing your eligibility in finding your ideal position.”

What are you offering?

Write down your skills: soft skills such as having a strong work ethic, being a team player, solution orientated, communication and adaptability and love of learning.  Note your strengths – professional competencies in which you excel and which can make you an ideal candidate for the particular position.

Note your strengths – professional competencies in which you excel and which can make you an ideal candidate for the particular position.

Continuous learning

Whether you are just starting out or if you are looking to take the next step in your career, it is important to sustain your relevancy in your industry through continuous learning.  There are many short courses or even additional degrees or post-graduate diplomas to such as a Postgraduate Diploma in Management which can be studied part-time and which can set you on a career path of success.

Goals & Targets

“It is important to establish what you are looking for from the outset,” says Koqo-Hlengane.  “Know the type of position that you want and the  industry. This acts as guidance, helping you decide which jobs and companies are relevant in terms of helping you to achieve your objectives.

It is also good to have a certain amount of flexibility, keeping yourself open to new possibilities which may present themselves as you embark on your search.

Prepare for your interview

Prepare mentally for your interview by going over the possible questions and seeing yourself answering them.  You can even do a mock interview with a colleague or friend, helping you to be more prepared and more relaxed in the actual interview situation.

Take action

You have to know that you are going to get Yes’s and No’s.  Prepare yourself – keep in mind that you need to persevere.

Make it a daily practice to set aside time for research, tweaking your CV and covering letter to highlight skills needed for a specific job.  Highlight your USP (your unique selling points – AKA your core competencies  – which set you apart) in relation to the job requirements and do follow up calls with CVs you have already sent out.

“Make this into a learning experience,” says Koqo-Hlengane. Always try to get feedback if things don’t work out – it gives you insight into the job application and helps you grow professionally and personally.

Keep on.  No matter how challenging.  Be flexible. If a strategy isn’t working, then maybe you need to adjust it.  Eventually you are going to find your match.  You’ve got this!” Concludes the Boston Branch Manager.