After many years of intense, sleepless nights, you finally have your degree or diploma! Yay! Or not? It’s time to look for employment. With our current unemployment rate, trying to find a job can be an anxiety-inducing experience. You’ve sent a few CVs, and perhaps you have attended a couple of interviews, with no luck.
What follows are a few tips to help you stand out during the application process and interviews.
“Please find attached”. Please find attached what? The rest of the sentence? When applying for a job, it is important to draft a proper email with a greeting. Your subject line should include the advertised job role, e.g. Creative Director Position, and a short summary about yourself; this is an opportunity to share information about yourself that is not outlined in your CV. Refrain from using slang and emoticons. Keep it brief and professional, then end off with a sign-off and your signature. Don’t be too quick to click “send”, read your email to identify any possible spelling or grammatical errors.
Your CV is your marketing tool, and it plays a vital role in ensuring that you get called for an interview. Do not send the CV you drew up two years ago when you were looking for vac work. It is essential to continually review your CV and tailor it to the job for which you’re applying. You need to keep it simple, clear, and concise. Anything longer than two pages is way too long. Employers don’t want to know about the time you worked at your uncle’s tuck shop in the Eastern Cape when you were 17. Once you have completed your CV, get someone to proofread it and ensure that it is well-structured (always start with the most important information). Nothing turns a potential employer off like spelling the word “curriculum vitae” wrong. Yes, it happens.
Your portfolio is your career calling card. This is your opportunity to showcase your talent and best work. Nothing is as important as presenting your work in a professional and accessible portfolio. Google Docs that require a request for access or PDFs that need a password are a definite no. Your portfolio should include appropriate examples with a wide variety of work, demonstrating all-round experience. On projects where you collaborated with other team members, always mention what your role was in that project. We’ve come across portfolios that only showcase work from the ice age; what have you been doing for the past few centuries? It is therefore essential to give your portfolio a regular spring clean and include your recent work. Your skills have definitely gotten better, and it’s only right that you don’t misrepresent yourself.
Well done! You have landed an interview with the top agency you’ve always wanted to work for! First thing’s first: do your research! One of the best ways to stand out in an interview is to do as much research as possible. What will stand you in good stead is having in-depth knowledge of the company that will be interviewing you; you can go even further by researching the founder, CEO, and other key people in the company. You have to understand how the company works and gain insight into the culture you would be working in; this will make it easy for you to answer questions related to how you will fit into the organisational culture and why you are an ideal candidate to help the company meet its objectives and uphold its values.
You have to go beyond highlighting your strengths and why you are suitable for the job. Think of an organisation as a big jigsaw puzzle; consider whether you are indeed the missing piece they need to complete the bigger picture as it pertains to who the company is trying to be beyond what they are working towards achieving. Moreover, prepare questions for the company; this will show that you are committed to understanding their business and where they are trying to go. Understand the position you have applied for. Equip yourself with as much knowledge as you can. When you’re prepared, you gain more confidence.
How you dress on the day of the interview is very important; yes, people judge a book by its cover. Don’t wear crop tops, boob tubes, caps, shorts, flip flops, your favourite hand painted t-shirt, etc. Look professional without losing yourself. Don’t be late for your interview, and if you are late, be courteous enough to call your potential employer and inform them. Be mindful of your body language. Slouching on the chair will definitely not get you a job. Employers read energy. Breathe and stay calm.
The most important thing during this process is to always be yourself. Well, you might not need to have the yellow hair but personality and being great at what you do and understanding the company at which you’re applying are key to landing that job!