During economically difficult times finding a job can be tough, whether you have just graduated, were recently retrenched, or just want to change jobs.  The challenges associated with finding employment are probably more daunting to first time job seekers, who do not know the jobsearch landscape and don’t know what to expect, but the search should be treated as a journey, not a series of attempts.

“Finding a job is a process, and it is important that this process is backed by a strategy. It is also worth remembering that, while you are searching for a job, the search is and should be treated as your job,” says Erna Kruger, Head of Programme at The Independent Institute of Education (IIE), SA’s largest and most accredited private higher education provider.

Kruger says that during the process of looking for and securing a position, one could find wonderful opportunities you never imagined, and therefore it was necessary to keep an open mind.

“It is important that you set goals for yourself when searching for that perfect position,” says Kruger.

“These goals may include, for instance, searching and applying for ten to fifteen jobs per week until you find full time employment.  It is also very beneficial to register your CV with employment agencies or using online employment services to search and apply for jobs that you are genuinely enthusiastic about. However, make sure that you are qualified for the job, otherwise your CV will easily end up in the bin and not be considered again.”

While conducting your jobsearch, it is also an opportunity to improve your knowledge and skills, says Kruger.

“Start to get used to an 8 hour working day, by devoting a large chunk of the day to your search, and by optimally using the the other hours available to you,”she says.

“You could consider getting additional qualifications in the career field you are interested in, or do short learning programmes that would further enhance your standing in a particular field.  Higher Education institutions such as The IIE, for instance, offer a wide range of career focussed qualifications which can be attended as a full time, part time or distance student. They also offer short learning programmes that may add considerable weight to your CV.”

Kruger says that there are also many resources available to assist job hunters, such as www.theworldofwork.co.za – a free web-based resource that help graduates prepare themselves to make the best of the application and interview process, as well as help them put their best foot forward in their first job.

“These kinds of resources could make all the difference in ensuring that you set yourself apart from other candidates,” she says.

Options also include taking up other opportunities, such as doing an internship, part-time work, freelance work and volunteer work in the field you want to work in.

“Taking such opportunities could help you get your foot in the door and sell yourself.  They may open doors for full time work, but even if they don’t, they will add to your experience which you can add to your CV.”

Importantly, Kruger says time should be spent on making sure your CV is professional, as it is the first impression a prospective employer will get of you.

“Finally, always remember to not give in to despondency, but to rather consider other alternatives. There is no reason for you not to be working and earning a living.  Part time jobs that might not necessarily be in the career field you are interested in are always available and could include waiting tables. Even thought the earning potential in these part time jobs are not that high, it could tide you over while you continue looking for work.

“And don’t forget to seriously consider self employment – being entrepreneurial about the skills and knowledge you have gained during your previous work or studies could ultimately prove more rewarding than finding permanent employment. Research your possibilities and use the skills you have. There are always opportunities – even if they do not come in the form you previously considered the ideal.”

“Remember the words of Thomas A. Edison: ‘Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work’.

Article issued by the Independent Institute of Education