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Sunday, September 26, 2010

A hint for all job seekers

In the following paragraphs are the techniques you need in order to land your dream job.
NB: some notes here are not applicable to Nigerian job seekers.

Best of luck you read.

If you were wondering why you constantly got rejections despite being on track to get a good degree and from a good university. What you did wrong?

Cover letters
Graduate recruiters will pass over your application unless you tell them why they should employ you; this is best done in the cover letter. Bullet points make good reading as they show clarity of thought, break down the job description by bullet points and match each one with your suitability. Explain why you have decided to apply for this particular job, why you will be good at it and the reason you want to work for them and not their competitors.

Always adhere by job desciptions?

Cover letters Anything expressed as a minimum in a job description means just that, so if a minimum grade or qualification is required it means that recruiters are unlikely to consider candidates that don't have exactly what's specified. However, an overlap of skills, experience, qualifications and attributes is normal. This means that if you have a lower grade of qualification than the one advertised but some related experience it may still be worth applying. In all cases list what your relevant attributes are and they match the minimum requirements high up in your cover letter starting with your strongest. If you're really unsure as to what the recruiter is looking for, email them and ask for further information.

Concentrating on writing a compelling profile (description of your attributes) at the start of your CV and you won't have to lie about your qualifications, skills or grades .
Concentrate on writing a compelling profile (description of your attributes) at the start of your CV and you won't have to lie about your qualifications, skills or grades. It's fine to promote why you'd be a good hire, but you don't need to lie to do that; just think of your job application or CV from the recruiter's perspective.

Can potential employers demand that I take a drugs test?

Yes employers can demand that you take a drugs test, but they need to publish or inform candidates that this is a requirement. It is common to test for drugs in industries where candidates work with pharmaceutical or biochemical products, finances or with young or vulnerable people. The armed and emergency forces and the prison service are also increasingly using drugs tests.

I was too busy studying and then went travelling after uni. Everybody bangs on about work experience - what can I do?

Checking your work experience is an easy way for employers to figure out what you'll be like as an employee. However, you can get around having limited or no work experience by describing yourself from an employer's perspective. The best way to do this is in the 'profile' section of your CV. If you've been travelling you may well be adventurous, independent and self-motivated, if you travelled in a group perhaps you are also sociable and a good team player. Employers recognise that many of the skills you develop whilst travelling can easily be transferred to the workplace. For more advice on gap year travel see To gap or not to gap.

Some of my mates have said that it's a good idea to do voluntary work. Is this true or is it a waste of time?

This is good advice, volunteering can boost your confidence and help to build up a network of future employers or people that might recommend you for a job. Here's what Mark Crosby a volunteer teacher in Malawi had to say on the subject:

"I gained so much more in my confidence, my interpersonal skills, and my knowledge of development issues. And it really does add something to your CV."

How long should my CV be?

On average recruiters take 8 seconds to decide whether to screen a CV in or out. Keep your CV punchy and stick to the job of selling your abilities. Ideally it should be no more than two sides of A4 paper long. If you have recently graduated highlight your subject and course grades, also detail your dissertation or final year project describing its focus and how you went about completing it. Caroline Buckingham, Pro-Active Resourcer at Microsoft UK has the following tips:
"As you can imagine we get hundreds of CVs submitted to Microsoft every day, therefore it's very important for a candidate to really think about their CV before they submit it. Keep it clear, to the point and highlight all the relevant skills needed for the job you are applying for. You may need to change each CV for every position you apply for as this will ensure you are tailoring your CV to the needs of the job."

Should I include a photo or personal details in my CV?
There is no requirement to include marital status (this may not be the case for Nigerian employers), your vital statistics, or a photo in your CV as it's not relevant to your suitability for jobs. The exception are jobs where you wouldn't be considered unless you have certain attributes e.g. appearing on a reality TV singles show! Any unusual requests should be stated and explained in the job description. You don't have to justify life style choices; suitability for the role in question is all that a recruiter should be interested in.

How do I get good work references if I've been at university and don't have work experience?
If this is your first job references from tutors, mentors, or friends (preferably those that work in business) are fine. You don't need to stipulate who your referees are on your CV or job application, just put at the bottom of your CV that you do have referees available to be contacted if necessary. If your future employer (or college) wants to take up references, warn your referees and find out how they would prefer to be contacted. If your prospective employer wants to call your referees agree a time. You don't want your referee to get called mid-way through their weekly shop!

Qualified but lacking in experience
If you have the qualifications, but lack the experience, consider advising or working (part-time) with local businesses to build up your experience. Diversity or breadth of experience matters more than length of time. You will demonstrate enthusiasm and perseverance to your prospective employer and these personality facets add value to an organisation.

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