Job Search Strategy

Job Search Strategy

JOB SEARCH STRATEGY

Every job seeker falls into one or more of these categories;

  • Actively seeking employment
  • Currently employed, seeking better opportunities
  • Looking for a career change
  • Trying to test the job market

Notwithstanding the category, we are all in the search for that dream job, especially for those who are not entrepreneurs.

It’s no news that some people get jobs as soon as they graduate or ready for it. Some call it luck, favour, connection and so on. But the other reality is that some actually labour and toil before getting their dream job.

No matter how difficult or how tight the job market is, people are getting jobs and some are changing jobs day in day out.

At this juncture, we need to Stop! Think! Evaluate! the efficiency of our method of job searching and opt for an effective method.

Here are few strategies to consider;

1. Planning:

You need to invest time and energy into job searching and treat it as a real 8-5pm job. It won’t be a bad idea to have a weekly plan and dedicate 3-4days of the week to job search.

Don’t just apply for every available vacancy, it is important to have a target, focus on a particular area and stick to it.

I quite understand that the struggle is real but, if you are asked what you can do in terms of job, don’t say ‘any job’. You need to have a plan and be focussed.

Job hunting without a focus is tantamount to shooting in the dark with no target in mind. Be focussed and Be Specific!

Every job seeker need to ask himself-

Who is my target audience? Who do I want to attract?

Recruiters from which industry?

Which company do I want to work for? And in what capacity?

Here is the list of industries to choose from;

  • Accounting/Audit/Tax
  • Administration & Office Support
  • Agriculture/Farming;
  • Banking/Finance/Insurance
  • Beauty/Fashion
  • Building Design/Architecture
  • Construction
  • Consulting/Business Strategy & Planning
  • Creatives (Arts, Design, Fashion)
  • Customer Service/Call Centre
  • E-commerce
  • Education/Teaching/Training
  • Engineering
  • Healthcare/Pharmaceutical
  • Hospitality/Leisure/Travels
  • Human Resources
  • IT/Web Developers/Programmers
  • Legal
  • Logistics/Transportation
  • Manufacturing/Production
  • Marketing/Advertising/Communications
  • Media
  • NGO/Community Services/Humanitarian
  • Oil & Gas /Mining/Energy
  • Project/Programme Management
  • Quality Assurance & Quality Control/HSE
  • Real Estate/Property
  • Research
  • Retail/Wholesale
  • Sales/Business Development
  • Supply Chain/Procurement
  • Telecommunications
  • Trade and Services
  • Others

Make a list of the industries you would like to work for and specific companies under each?

Strategy:

Don’t wait until jobs are advertised on job boards or social media. Visit career page of your desired companies, search and apply for relevant roles. You can also subscribe for job alerts (if available).

Follow your desired companies on Social Media- Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and so on. This is necessary in order to keep updated about relevant news or events, not just job vacancies.

2. Networking:

Leave your comfort zone and network with people. Don’t be shy to let acquaintances know that you are open to new job opportunities but please don’t bore them with job request. Just because a friend/relative has a company does not mean he/she must hire, you can mention it and ask for referrals.

You can join professional associations and be active. Build relationship with professionals and participate in intellectual discussions. Always be prepared to maximize every opportunity.

Prepare and practice your ‘Elevator Pitch’ also known as ‘Elevator Speech’ as many times as possible. You can practice in front of a mirror or a friend.

You never can say, there might be an opportunity to market yourself or to discuss the values you can add. You need to make a first great impression.

“An elevator speech is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about you. It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and how you can benefit a company or organization. It’s typically about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator. (The idea behind having an elevator speech is that you are prepared to share this information with anyone, at anytime, even in an elevator.)” SOURCE: http://sfp.ucdavis.edu

3. Compelling CV/ Résumé:

No matter how archaic you think the idea of a CV is, some hiring companies/managers still see it as an initial tool for assessing applicant’s fit for a role.

Is your CV up to date? Is your CV just a list of your work history and not compelling enough to convince recruiter that you can do the job you are applying for?

It is not just how your CV looks on its own but how it looks or how it stands out in comparison to others. I believe that a well-written CV/ Résumé should earn you a right to an interview.

You can turn your CV into an effective marketing tool by spending time to develop it and making it competitive.

Therefore, it is time to look at your CV from the recruiter’s perspective. If you were a potential employer would you hire ‘YOU’ based on your current CV?

Don’t make your CV look like an obituary, spice it up with active verbs Must Use- CV Active Verbs

 

4. Advert-Targeted Cover Letter:

Cover Letter can also be referred to as Application Letter.

Your Cover Letter should be tailored towards the relevant terminology, keywords and phrases in the job description. This is necessary in order to present you in the most effective way possible, by showcasing your skills and the value that you can bring to an employer.

If you are applying for a vacancy that request for just CV/ Resume, it is advisable to copy and paste your cover letter as the body of the mail.

5. Effective Use of LinkedIn:

It is startling that you would meet an upwardly mobile jobseeker and then you realize he is not on LinkedIn!!

Linkedin is a social networking site for professionals. It has over 1million members in Nigeria and over 200million users globally. Hundreds of thousands of recruiters are using LinkedIn to source, search and hire candidates. In addition, hundreds of jobs are advertised on LinkedIn on a daily basis. It is therefore crucial to keep your LinkedIn profile updated and attractive to recruiters.

Signing up for LinkedIn is free and it gives you a platform to position yourself for opportunities as well as connect and network with hiring managers/decision makers in various organizations across the globe.

If you want to increase your chances of finding jobs, then it’s time to be active on LinkedIn.

How to Search for Jobs On Linkedin;

  1. You will find a tab ‘Jobs’ on the top navigation on your LinkedIn home page.
  1. Click on Jobs.
  2. Add keywords related to the jobs you are interested in, such as job title, keywords, or company name, and Location
  3. Click Find Jobs.

OR

  1. Click Discover to access new job postings.

When you view a job posting, you’ll see the following options:

  • Apply ‘on the company website
  • Save (and apply later)

For those jobs where you apply directly through LinkedIn, your profile will be forwarded when you apply. There could be an option to add a cover letter.

Update Job Preferences on LinkedIn:

You can set your job preferences by clicking the Preferences tab on the far right.

  • LinkedIn will automatically recommend the right jobs to you.
  • It also gives you the opportunity to let recruiters know that you are open to new jobs.
  • You also can indicate the type of job you are considering and at the same time ‘Share your profile’ with recruiters.

6. Job Application:

It is mandatory that you have a good understanding of the job responsibilities and requirements. Please apply for roles you are qualified for.

Make sure you follow all the instructions given when submitting your employment applications.

If it requires sending a CV and/or Cover letter as an attachment via an email, please ensure you use the right or required format.

  • Cross check the mail address.
  • Proofread the mail before sending and ensure that the documents are attached.
  • If the attachment is large, please put in a zip file.
  • By default, you should use your name as the title of the CV or Cover Letter attachment unless otherwise stated. E.g.
    • CV-Chinwe Aduke Mohammed
    • Cover letter- Chinwe Aduke Mohammed
  • Make the job title or Reference No (if applicable) as the subject of the mail. E.g.
    • SUBJECT:Re: Application for Human Resources Manager (Ref: #34089)
  • Do not forward the mail you have sent to another recruiter and if you must do so, please edit and avoid leaving a mail trail.

Always remember your e-mail etiquette!!

7. Job Tracker:

It won’t be a bad idea to keep tabs on all your job applications. You can create a job tracker using excel worksheet or any other app. Keep updating the status of each application and indicate necessary action.

In Conclusion;

Many jobseekers are frustrated due to unsuccessful job applications, failed interview, broken promises etc. This is not the time to throw a pity-party, it is time to change your ‘job-search’ strategy and take charge of your career.

At the same time, we cannot over emphasize the need to develop yourself while job hunting- WORK GAP

Dear Recruiter,

Dear Recruiter,

DEAR RECRUITER: This letter is based on applicant’s experience with a typical recruiter.

 Dear Recruiter,

Kindly make an effort to include full Job Description in all your job postings. Remember to include; location, job requirements, job responsibilities and all relevant details that will aid my decision in applying for the role.

If you have already identified candidates for the role, please don’t bother advertising the vacancy or call me for interview and raise my hope for no reason. I have feelings too, remember.

If I’m shortlisted for a role, may I ask you for a fair chance to compete with other candidates during the selection and hiring process?

Dear Recruiter,

If the interview venue is outside my current location, can we explore other options of interview using technology? If possible?

And if it’s not possible, can you make it easy for your dear applicant by subsidizing or paying for my hotel accommodation and transport fare? Please?

I don’t want to “travel the world in 80 days” using my resources and eventually not considered for the job.

Dear Recruiter,

It’s an honour to be called for an interview, nevertheless….

I want to be adequately prepared before attending the interview, so, try to give at least 24-48hrs notice for the interview.

When I do honour your invite, please don’t keep me waiting at your lobby for hours, most times, I probably need to get back to work with my present employer.

And may I humbly ask that you should please be nice during the interview. I’m here to interview for job not to be interrogated for a crime.

Dear Recruiter,

I wouldn’t mind discussing my salary expectation during our first meeting. We both know that, it will be waste of time and resources to negotiate salary at probably the 4th stage of the hiring process and discover that we can’t agree on the pay.

Dear Recruiter,

Could you please, find time in your busy schedule to give me feedback after the interview. I think you owe me that honour.

It doesn’t matter if I pass or fail or you want to keep me in view! Just communicate. I want to know my areas of improvement and where I stand in the hiring process.

Not knowing is nerve wrecking.

Dear Recruiter,

Please, don’t take my follow-up ‘Thank you’ note or email as seeking for attention or favour, I’m only being professional.

Yours Sincerely,

 The Applicant

Read Dear Applicant’s Letter  HERE  Dear Applicant,

Dear Applicant,

Dear Applicant,

DEAR APPLICANT: This letter is borne out of a typical recruiter’s experience with applicants.

As a recruiter, one of your responsibilities is to hire not only the best candidate but the best culturally fit for the company. There have been days of excitement and days of disappointments…you have roles to fill but no qualified applicants.

 

Dear Applicant…

Recruiters put job descriptions and responsibilities together in order to attract qualified candidates for specific roles.

Most often than not, when applicants see job vacancy they believe it is just a propaganda that the hiring company has identified candidate for the role already.

Another mindset is that one cannot get a job without being referred by an insider. So, CV or Résumé is just a ruse. Therefore, they refuse to spend quality time writing a winning CV.

This might not be true in all cases, so please, take all genuine job adverts seriously and prepare accordingly.

 

Dear Applicant…

Stop applying for jobs you are not qualified for…..

For a recruiter, there is nothing as frustrating as receiving over 300 CVs for a particular role and only 5% are qualified for the job.

Most applicants don’t even bother to read job description, responsibilities and requirements. These set of applicants just keep applying for every vacancy that crossed their path. When I say any, I mean ANY and EVERY VACANCY!!!

Do not make it a hobby to apply for roles you are not qualified for, else you will be frustrated and think the job is for the recruiters’ cronies.

I have seen quite a number of entry-level candidates applying for Executive level roles that require 10-15years experience!

You need to be strategic in your job search.

 

Dear Applicant…

If you are interested in vacancies that exist in a different state from your state of residence, please include alternative address on your CV showing a nearby address. Location/proximity is one of the determining factor for short listing candidates.

(Exception to this if the hiring company is ready to provide accommodation)

Likewise, if you are applying for job outside your country of residence, please indicate your interest to relocate.

Dear Applicant…

For experienced professional, you have a slim chance of being shortlisted for the role you know nothing about, unless you show certain level of competence.

Therefore, if you are switching career, there is need to lay emphasis on your relevant transferable skills communication, team work, leadership, analytical and so on.

N:B; How to gain experience in the newly found career? You can volunteer with a friend/colleague with expertise in the field (during vacation), take up relevant online courses or get relevant professional certifications.

Dear Applicant…

Your CV is a marketing tool that shows what you can offer a potential employer and a well written CV should earn you the right to an interview. However, the onus is on you to spend time in developing it. Don’t leave it to chance.

It is often not advisable to have a one-size fits all CV/Résumé. Your CV should be tailored to each role.

Do not be in a hurry to submit your CV without proof-reading. Watch out for incomplete info such as; contact details, dates etc.

Avoid the temptation to exaggerate or falsify your information or work history. Most times it can come back to haunt.

Use a generally accepted format when attaching CVs- Ms Word or PDF. Some applicants attach CV in a zip or password protected format. This is an extra work/challenge that a recruiter is not willing take on.

We cannot over emphasize the fact that candidate should only apply for roles that match their profile and should not expect miracles if they act otherwise. In case you are wondering, Yes! I believe in miracles.

It is equally imperative to work on your LinkedIn profile. Most recruiters shortlist and recruit via LinkedIn.

Dear Applicant…

It’s still a mystery that candidates will apply for a role, he will be invited for interview, the candidate will confirm availability but will not show up for the interview without giving any reason or prior notice. This is totally unprofessional.

If you won’t be available for any reason or you have lost interest or you will be running late, please relate to the recruiter or hiring company.

Dear Applicant…

We agree you need to ask question and get all the facts right before attending an interview, but please write down all your questions and ask the recruiter once. Don’t make it a duty to keep calling every hour asking questions after questions. It doesn’t matter how many times you repeat…

’I’m sorry to bother you’

Dear Applicant…

If you are submitting any hard copy documents during the recruitment process, it will be appropriate to have it well-arranged and neatly packaged.

Please don’t present oil-stained, crumpled or partly torn documents. Even if you feel remorseful.

Dear Applicant…

Every job interview opportunity is one step away from being hired. Maximize it. Prepare effectively.

Don’t come for an interview unprepared. Please don’t chew gums during the interview. Dress appropriately. Maintain eye contact. Be punctual.

If you are not fluent in English or the language of communication, please work on yourself, enrol for Language classes and learn. Remember, you are not the only candidate for the role.

It’s okay to ask questions like;

When should I expect feedback? What do you look out for in an ideal candidate for this role? What is the next step in the interview process? Etc.

Avoid question like;

What’s the company into? – You are expected to have done your research beforehand.

Dear Applicant…

Under no circumstance should you badmouth your former boss.

Yours Sincerely,

 The Recruiter

 

 

Read Dear Recruiter’s Letter  HERE  Dear Recruiter,

WORK GAP

WORK GAP

Having a gap in work history is not unusual and it can be for a number of reasons such as; study, raising kids, maternity, medical, caring for sick relative, relocation, career switch, setting up a business, resignation, termination, layoff, downsizing, Mergers & Acquisition, among others.

{Meanwhile, if you are laid off because of fraud, gross misconduct, negligence, poor performance etc. word of advice is further down ☟☟☟☟☟}

Do not beat yourself over the size of your work gap, what is more crucial is what you do during the employment break and finding the right words to explain it on your CV or LinkedIn profile or during an interview.

Any unaccountable work gap on CV/Résumé can easily be flagged by a recruiter and this could jeopardize any chances of considering the applicant for the role. Explain every gap in your work history and do not leave it hanging.

Are you currently unemployed or in between jobs?

Are you doing something worthwhile with your time or just lazing around wishing for the dream job to come knocking????

It is advisable to maximize this break by engaging in activities relating to your profession/passion or career path. This is necessary in order to remain relevant in your chosen field.

WHAT TO DO DURING WORK GAP

#1- Sign up for free online courses. Check these sites;

https://www.coursera.org,https://www.edx.org, https://www.extension.harvard.edu/open-learning-initiative, https://alison.com,

#2- Volunteer at activities in several groups; NGOs, religious, educational or social.

#3- Volunteer to work without pay.

#4- Attend Seminars, Workshops, Trainings, Webinars, Conferences.

#5- Join relevant professional bodies (online and offline) and be active.

#6- Sharpen your networking skills and leverage on it.

#7- Start a business (if possible).

[Don’t be afraid if you have ventured into businesses which eventually failed, I’m sure you learnt a lot and you must have developed some business skills which are worth mentioning on your CV].

HOW TO EXPLAIN GAPS ON CV/RÉSUMÉ OR LINKEDIN

Here are examples of how the gaps can be explained on a CV/Résumé or LinkedIn or during an interview based on the actions you took

Study

  • Took 2-years study leave to pursue Masters in Finance and Financial Regulations at Aston University, Birmingham, UK.

Modules studied: Security Analysis, Business Finance, International Finance, Financial Reporting, Corporate Governance, Applied Research and Methodology.

  • Enrolled for intensive 1 year full-time MSc in Estate Management at University of Lagos, Akoka. Lagos Nigeria.

Modules studied: Advanced Valuation, Feasibility and Viability Studies, Property Management, Macro Economics, Micro Economics, Statistics.

 

Entrepreneurship/Setting up a business

  • Dedicated 5 months to doing researching, training and job shadowing to understand the end-to-end processes of supply chain management for some Agricultural products. Visited an African country to benchmark operational best practices in mechanized farming and how it can be adapted to Nigeria.

SKILLS: Research, Operational Management, Business Process Improvement.

  •  Published a book titled ‘Art of Selling for SMEs’ and single-handedly sold 25,000 hard copies within 2 years.

SKILLS: Sales, Marketing, Negotiation, Communication….

  •  Founded a Logistics and Distribution company. Grew the company from Zero to N850,000 turnover within 1 year through efficient planning and Just-In Time delivery of goods and services to customers.

SKILLS: Service Delivery, Project Management, Inventory Management, Client Servicing, Supply Chain Management, Logistics.

On Line Courses

  • In the last 1 year, I took some online certificate courses in; Sales Fundamental, HR Management, Project Management, Effective Negotiation, Digital Marketing, Market Penetration, Customer Service, Credit Analysis ….

Volunteer/Professional Affiliation

  • I was a volunteer member of an International Charity Organization for 6months, I participated in charity projects which include: health talks on Tuberculosis, HIV, Malaria and Cervical cancer in various gatherings.
  • As a volunteer with United Nations, I facilitated community mobilization and outreaches to increase awareness on Child Protection, Sex Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Gender Equality in Education…

SKILLS: Program Facilitation, Project Coordination, Diversity & Inclusion, Presentation, Planning & Organization, Programme Support Advocacy, Public Speaking etc.

  • I took 3years off to raise my kids, during this time, I was elected as the Secretary for Nigerian Institute of Management. I was actively involved in planning conferences and organizing the annual ‘Young Managers workshops’ for undergraduates.

SKILLS: General Administration, Office Management, Customer Service, Conflict Resolution, Mentoring, Public Speaking, Social Media Campaigning.

If work gap is due to Downsizing/Mergers & Acquisition

  • The company undergone an organizational restructuring and was part of the staff that were regrettably, let go. However, I have a recommendation letter from my previous employer attesting to my unflinching commitment to work.

☞☞☞ If you are laid off or dismissed due to poor performance, gross misconduct, fraud, negligence either you are guilty or falsely accused.

There is no point to lie during an interview because the employer will find out anyway (while conducting a background check).

So, be truthful about it. If you are guilty and genuinely sorry for your action- show remorse and iterate lessons learnt. Don’t dwell on the act, rather, demonstrate your readiness to start afresh and not make the same mistake.

Here are few points and can get you through the dilemma;

  • Settle for a pay cut (if offered).
  • Provide credible guarantors.
  • Volunteer to sign letter of undertaking.
  • Get attestation letters from reputable clergy men.
  • Agree to a longer probationary period.

OR you can also

  • Ask friends/family for referrals.
  • Start your own business

Conclusion

If you are still in-between jobs or unemployed, it is never too late to start developing and sharpening your skills. Get busy with activities that help you stay updated in your chosen field.

Tip: If you have a wide gap in your work history or you have switched career path, avoid using a Chronological CV rather adopt a Functional CV. Functional CV is used to hide imperfect work experiences.