Get the correct names of the people you’re aiming to have contact with and which role they play in the company. Network. Everyone knows someone who knows someone. Let your friends, family and as many other people as you can, know that you’re looking for a job.
Agents are go-betweens for companies and applicants. They know which jobs are available and are good matchmakers. If you can’t find an agent, try the Human Resources person at the companies you’d like to work for. Once you’ve made contact, deliver your CV in person - it’s a (good?) gesture.
Scan the Classifieds or careers section of the daily and weekly papers. If you have access to the Web, start accounts with the recognised professional hubs like LinkedIn and VisualCV. Make it known that you’re looking for career opportunities. Get a grip on the industry salaries from local salary surveys (recruitment agencies are a good place to start) so you know what’s on offer and how much you could expect to earn.
Most Career sites offer great search functionality, so you can pinpoint positions that suit you. Here’s a few to get you started:
Career Jet: http://www.careerjet.co.za
Career Junction: http://www.careerjunction.co.za
IOL Jobs: http://www.ioljobs.co.za
Once you’ve lined up an interview, find out as much as you can about the company. A few things to look at: their client list, philosophy and values, who the figureheads are and the company’s relative position in their industry. Who’s the competition? Do your best to get an understanding of the industry. What issues or challenges is it facing? Are there any gaps? Can you bring a new idea into the mix?
Gather a list of typical interview questions and get a friend to rehearse with you. There’s nothing like practice on the road to perfection. Ask the company about their interview process. The more you know, the more you can plan for.
Get an idea of what people in the industry wear to work, and then find a good fit. You only get one chance to make a good first impression, so aim for something simple, but professional.
So make sure to show up on time. Leave early enough to give yourself half an hour to compose your thoughts before the interview starts.
When the interviewer asks you a question, take a moment to figure out how you’ll answer it best. One word answers like ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ don’t tend to lead anywhere, so show some initiative. If you’re unsure of exactly what they’re asking, ask them to rephrase the question. Clarity is everything.
Wait for the interviewer to bring up salary expectations and negotiations. They might wait for the second round of interviews to do this.
It’s not a one-way discussion. Use your research to ask relevant questions about the company. It’ll show the interviewer that you have a real interest in the job. Ask for a business card - it indicates intent. Find out what the next steps are in the interview process as you may be required to go for tests.
Two extra printed copies of your CV will be useful to your interviewer if they need to pass them on to their colleagues.
After the interview, email or phone your interviewer and thank them for the interview. That’s where the business card you picked up comes in handy.
If you haven’t heard anything after an interview, call them about a week later, unless they’ve stated that they will get in touch with you by a specific date.
Go for as many interviews as you can. Even if you don’t land the jobs at first, you’ll gain experience through practice and get to grips with the process.