Job hunting is not easy. Fine-tuning your CV, preparing for an interview, and calming your nerves are all part of the process to getting your dream career going.

But the current job market is even more tough at the moment after the Covid-19 pandemic led to thousands of people being retrenched or finding themselves without work. Now there’s a lot more competition out there, so if you are on the hunt for a job, then you will need to be smart about it!

Sanet Nel of Oxbridge Academy, a private college that serves more than 20 000 South African distance learning students every year, offers five top tips to boost your chances of success in the job market:

1. Cast your net as wide as possible

“Job hunting can sometimes be a long process which requires high levels of perseverance. You can’t expect to be successful with the very first job you apply for, unless you’re incredibly lucky,” she says.

“In a tough job market where there is plenty of competition, you need to apply for as many suitable positions as possible,” says Nel, “so don’t shy away from applying for positions where you don’t meet all of the listed requirements. If you believe you would do well in the job, then there’s no harm in applying for it.”

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

The Art of Assertiveness – A business coach shares 6 key tools to getting what you want

2. Tailor your CV for different job applications

One size definitely does not fit all and Nel cautions that you shouldn’t be sending an identical CV out to every job you’re applying for.

“You should look carefully at the job listing, and then tailor your CV to match the job requirements and the company as closely as possible. This could mean placing emphasis on certain skills more than others. Or adapting your CV introduction to match the job position. When an employer looks at your CV, they want to immediately see proof that that you are a viable candidate for the listed job.”

3. Focus on writing a strong cover letter

First impressions count and a cover letter gives you the opportunity to explain why you would be a perfect fit for the job. Here, you can go into depth about the experience and skills you have.

“Similar to tailoring your CV, your cover letter should be adapted to match the specific job that you’re applying for. You should do some research on the hiring company’s overall philosophy and mission and show why you would fit into their culture and be able to make valuable contributions to the team. Employers love to see a cover letter which mentions the company’s name and that shows some understanding of what the company is looking for in an employee,” advises Nel.

4. Make sure your CV is modern and up-to-date

When it comes to your CV, looks do count.

“Old and outdated-looking CVs will immediately place you at a disadvantage and your CV should look modern and clean. In addition, traditional methods of compiling a CV may not work in 2020,” says Nel.

“For example, starting your CV with an objective statement about yourself could be a mistake. You should rather focus on writing an introduction that speaks to how you can meet the employer’s needs. Employers also want proof of success in your previous job roles, so you should consider linking the skills that you listed on your CV to some measurable examples of how these skills benefitted the company. For example, if you’re applying for a job in business management, then you could list some statistics which show how a strategy that you introduced benefitted the company.”

Need a side-hustle? 5 Tips to setting up your own baking business

5. Follow up with the hiring manager

Don’t just disappear.  Nel advises that there’s no harm in contacting the hiring manager a couple of weeks after you’ve sent in your CV to find out how the process is going.

“You shouldn’t bombard the company, but following up with a polite phone call or email can show that you’re very interested in the job and it could also remind the manager of you as a candidate, and prompt them to pay more attention to your application. Many candidates simply send in their CVs without any further following up, so showing that you’re interested can set you apart from the crowd.”

“Finding a job at the moment can seem like a daunting task but using the above simple tips will definitely help you in your quest,” concludes Nel.

“And in order to remain competitive in the jobs marketplace, it is important to commit to lifelong learning and continuously expanding your skillset, because the world of work is constantly changing and evolving.”