Your first job search after graduation can be both exciting and terrifying, particularly in Botswana where many qualified people compete for a limited number of vacancies. But the experience can be made much more rewarding, and the chances of success greater, by following a few simple guidelines, an education expert says.
1) LAY THE GROUNDWORK
It may sound obvious, but many don’t realise the importance of getting the slog out of the way before they start submitting applications, Ntshinga says.
“You have to make sure that all your paperwork is in order, such as copies of your ID, academic transcripts, your degree, and so forth. Depending on your field, you may need additional documentation specific to your industry. Ensure that you have these in hard and digital format, ready to submit when required.
“Then, of course, you need to get your CV in tip-top shape. It can’t be stressed enough that it needs to be neat, concise and without any errors such as incorrect dates or grammatical slip-ups. It’s always a good idea to get a set of expert eyes on your CV before sending it off, so approach your graduate institution’s career centre for assistance in this regard,” he says.
2) SET GOALS
Ntshinga says one should spend a few hours every day on the search, and not leave it for when you feel like it.
“Inspiration may never hit, so don’t wait for it. Set out each day with the aim of finding and applying for a certain number of opportunities. Scour online job listings, widen your net to related vacancies even if not a 100% match to your preferred position, and cold call companies’ HR departments.
“When you send in an application for a vacancy, or your CV to the HR department to keep on file, remember to tailor your covering letter and experience to the specific company and position. And very importantly, keep a detailed and updated spreadsheet indicating where you applied, what you applied for, date of application and contact details of the person to whom you submitted the application. This may be useful later when you need to follow up on an application, or even when you want test the waters in future about potential vacancies.”
3) ROPE IN THE EXPERTS
The job search will feel lonely at times, but you don’t have to go it alone, says Ntshinga.
“Join forces with recruitment agencies and approach your graduate institution for help with your search,” he advises.
“A good institution will have specialist resources to help you prepare your CV, practise your interview skills, and assist you in identifying where you might need to strengthen or alter your approach.
“There are also many public, private and online resources dedicated to assisting job-seekers, so identify and connect with those in your area.”
4) GROW PROFESSIONALLY WHILE YOU WAIT
Ntshinga says it is vitally important not to stagnate professionally, particularly if the job-search takes a while.
“You absolutely must stay on top of developments in your profession, by networking and developing your relevant skills. Spend some time every week honing your professional skills by applying what you learnt during your studies. Volunteer your services in your community, go to industry networking events, and stay sharp.
“Also consider gaining a complementary skill to boost your CV and your range of competence. If you keep going and keep growing, the doors of opportunity will start opening for you.”