By Goke Ilesanmi
Let me first apologise to our teeming readers, especially fresh and old job-seekers who said I concentrated on elaborate discussion of how to get promotion last week, without giving as much attention to their own need. I am prostrating. Can I get up now? Thank you. We are addressing your request and need now.
Some of you even suggested that we should organise a seminar on job search. A seminar will definitely be organised. In fact, it will be a multi-purpose one that will include those looking for their dream job(s), those aspiring to be self-employed and those seeking career growth/change.
Research shows that the population of the unemployed in Nigeria and indeed the world over is becoming larger by the day. In 1998, for instance, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) released a report entitled “Global Employment Trends: The Outloook is Grim”, which predicted that one billion people would be unemployed in the world by December 1998. While this figure has greatly increased, it is noteworthy that another trend is that, among the employed, many have more than one job offer.
Note that a person that obtains the best job is not always the most qualified applicant but the most effective job-seeker. To become an effective job-seeker, you need to have a masterpiece of curriculum vitae (CV), penetrate the “closed” segment of the saturated job market, write an assertive cover letter, have adequate interview preparation among others.
Penetrating the “closed” job market
Research shows that only about one-fifth of the job market is what is called “open”. That means that it is only about 20 per cent of job vacancies are ever publicly known. The main avenue for informing the public about these vacancies is through “Wanted” adverts in the mass media as well as on the Internet. Recruitment or employment agencies and executive-search firms are other sources of open-market vacancies. The other fourth-fifths of the market can be conceived as “closed”, implying that you cannot find out the vacant positions unless you dig deep. The digging-deep most often takes the form of making a compilation of the list of all the companies in your field that you might be interested in working for, and contacting them to ask for an interview.
This type of situation automatically necessitates sending out your CV accompanied by the type of cover letter technically referred to as the “uninvited” or “cold-contact letter”. This job-search tool can be very effective, especially if you have a specific set of companies you want to work for, or are looking for a job in a specific geographical location. The uninvited cover letter enables you to take a proactive approach to job-hunting instead of the reactive approach of merely responding to “Wanted” adverts. It can be a great tool for unveiling hidden jobs where supposedly no “vacancies” actually exist.
Your letter can make such an impression that you will be remembered as soon as there is a vacancy in the target organisation. You may also be able to diplomatically create a vacancy for yourself by convincing the prospective employer that the company needs someone with your talents. At the very least, you may secure an interview in which the prospective employer can refer you to others in the field, who might need you. Whenever possible, any cover letter should be sent to a named individual, and with the uninvited letter, this is especially necessary.
You can also employ a referral strategy by using the referral letter. This kind of cover letter is very close to the uninvited letter. This letter, too, is uninvited but has some edge. It prominently displays the name of a person your addressee knows. Referral letters are the product of networking that many experts say is the most effective method of job-hunting. In its simplest form, networking in job search involves using everyone you know as a resource for finding a new job.
Referral letters can come from a variety of sources. You may talk with someone at a meeting of a trade association in your field who will tell you about a vacancy he or she is aware of. An acquaintance at a party might tell you about someone he or she knows whose company could employ an employee with your experience. A friend might tell you about a job he or she saw through his or her company’s internal job-posting.
The value of the referral letter is in its name-dropping. If you can arrest the prospective employer’s attention in the first line of your letter by mentioning someone he or she knows and respects, then you have jumped over a major hurdle. Some variations on the referral letter include approaches like “Mr. Victor Ifijeh, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Nation told me that you might have a vacancy for a Training Manager.”
Be adaptable or flexible when looking for a job. It is unlikely that you will find a job that has everything you hope for. You need to learn to be contented with employment that is less than ideal.
Masterpiece of a CV
You also need to have a masterpiece of a CV to get your desired job. Your CV is a tool with the aim of winning an interview. Indeed, it is an advertisement. A great CV does not just tell a prospective employer what you have done but presents you in the best light by convincing the prospective employer that you have what it takes to be successful in this new position or career. It is so eye-catching that a reader is tempted to pick it up and read it.
In 2004, a friend of mine saw a vacancy advert placed in some national dailies by one of the leading oil companies in Nigeria and told me. I then told him to bring the vacancy advert. I then prepared a targeted CV for him to take there. He said after submitting the CV, he was on his way out when the man collating the CVs called him back and started admiring his CV. The man even passed it round to his colleagues to see the best CV he had ever seen. In short, my friend said they had to single him out right from there by saying if somebody could have that type of CV, then he must be extremely intelligent. My friend said even the head of the department who busy then, told the man collating the CVs to put his own on top of all other CVs so that he (the head) could feed his eyes later. By the time my friend came back, he was jubilating, thanking me for the intellectual honour accorded at the oil firm just because of his CV. I too felt on top of the world that a whole oil company singled out my work as the best among the thousands of CVs submitted.
A CV stimulates the prospective employer’s interest in meeting with you and learning more about you. It inspires the prospective employer to pick up the phone and ask you to come in for an interview!
You can create a CV that makes you really stand out as a superior candidate for a job you are seeking. With a well-composed CV, you will be invited for an interview more often than many people that are more qualified than you are because the best-advertised product often gets higher custom than the best product. Note that the word “Patronage” is the American English version of the British English word “Custom”. From “Custom”, you have “Customer”. Check your dictionary, please.
According to Nicholas Lore, the author of THE PATHFINDER: How to Choose or Change your Career for a Lifetime of Satisfaction and Success, it is a mistake to think of your CV as a history of your past, as a personal statement or as some sort of self- expression. Surely, most of the content of any CV is focused on your job history. But, write from the intention to create interest, to persuade the employer to call you. If you write with that goal, your final product will be very different from when you write to inform or catalogue your job history.
To write a CV that is effective, you need to learn the strategy of writing a powerful, but subtle advertising copy. Additionally, you must sell a product in which you have large personal investment, that is, yourself. It is as a result of the fact that a lot of people do not think in the marketing way while composing a CV that they compose an ineffective one.
There are three types of CVs, and these are chronological, functional and combined chronological functional. The most effective one is the combined chronological functional CV that takes care of the combined deficiencies of chronological and functional CVs. We will still examine types of CVs in detail later, but not under this topic.
Job interview constitutes one of the most stressful speaking situations and we probably might have all been through it one time or another. If you really need that job, and it seems as though your whole life depends on it, the stress can be almost unbearable. Arch Lustberg, author of How to Sell Yourself says if you are desperate and it shows, you have not got a chance. This piece of advice is really the key to success in the job interview and in every other form of communication situation. When an interviewer sees you squirm, becomes aware of your desperation, you are almost certain to be a loser.
The failure rate at job interviews is very alarming. It is either candidates do not know how to express themselves, are not adequately prepared or are nervous.
Lenny Laskowski, a communication consultant discloses that while many of us may not think of job interviews as a presentation, it may be the first presentation we ever make. It may also be the most critical.
Five stages and information
Laskowski identifies the five stages of the interview process as preparation, introduction, presentation, obtaining necessary information for yourself and writing down all the reasons for the target company to hire you.
Ask if they are interviewing other people for the same position and when you can expect a decision. Ask if the interviewers want you to call later for an update. Also, ask how long it will take before the interviewers will make a decision. Never forget to follow up with a phone call or a thank you note.
With a job interview, you are there to market and sell yourself not just your ideas alone. First impression is very important and like presentations, you should properly prepare yourself for the interview. If you can do this, you will surely get the job you want. I mean you will definitely get your dream job(s).
GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of https://www.gokeilesanmi.com.ng and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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