When searching for a job – you have a number of paths you can use to reach your destination. There are conventional methods and there are alternatives.
WARNING! Conventional methods should be used – BUT check out more effective methods in the articles featured at the bottom of this page. As you’ll see conventional methods, although easy and most common actually don’t work very well. So if you want a better faster job search – be willing to try new things – see articles at bottom of this page.
The Most Conventional Job Search Methods
So what are the obvious, conventional methods of conducting a job search? Two spring to mind immediately.
- Newspaper ads (classifieds)
- Employment agencies
Others of course include the Internet, faxing CV’s to everyone you know etc.
What experiences have you had with the above? Most will say that using these methods has led to emotions including anger, frustration, disappointment, loss of dignity and self-esteem. On the other hand those that do find work through these methods say they were happy with the process. Whatever your experience there are a few things you needs to know. Do’s and do-nots. Rules of the game.
Let’s take one conventional method at a time.
(There’s a similar overview in the excellent book “The Business of Becoming Employed” by Colleen McLintock-Rudnick – it’s written for SA job hunters.)
1) Newspaper Job/Employment Vacancy Advertisements
Ok, this is really easy – grab the paper, circle the ads you like, send off your CV. Nice ‘n simple. But there are some pro’s and con’s – be warned.
- Which newspapers carry job ads? All major and smaller local papers carry job ads in one form or another. Sometimes it’s a major insert with 30 pages packed full of job ads.
- Positives of newspaper ads? They show you who’s hiring, which recruitment agencies to use (the ones that operate in the industry/sector you’re interested in; they give you some idea of market-related salaries; if you respond to an agency, the recruiter may send you on other interviews and hey, you may get the job.
- Negatives of newspaper ads? Most often advertisers are recruitment agencies and traditionally they look for people with a perfect profile (which few of us are); there are 100’s of others applying for the same job; some ads are fake (agencies are trying to attract applicants in hope of landing a perfect person that they can ‘market’ to an employer and make a lucrative placement); and lastly job ads – as many as there are – are just a fraction of the jobs that are really out there.
How to use the Classifieds effectively:
- Know that they have their place BUT the truth is that very few people get jobs by means of the classifieds. So ‘work’ the papers (spend time every day scouring them) but don’t get your hopes up.
- Always read all the columns in the paper – some jobs that you are suitable for may be buried under a different heading and you may miss out. (Be more thorough than everybody else)
- Read the ads very carefully. Don’t set yourself up for disappointment by applying for everything in sight. Only apply if you have a realistic chance.
- Cut the ad you are interested in out. Paste it in an exercise book dedicated to your job-search. Keep notes of your activity related to the ad (see examples of tracking sheets on next page – use them!!). Never call re. an ad without it in front of you to refer to.
- Never assume that you are not suitable. Often ads are drafted in search of the ideal candidate who may not exist. Try to get a meeting anyway.
- Timing is everything! Apply as soon as possible. Don’t waste any time. Never procrastinate. Get organised with e-mail facilities in advance. Have it on disk and hard copy ready to roll anywhere, anytime. Just a further thought re. the deadline – jobs are frequently filled before that date – agencies compete for business in a big way, if they find the right person they seldom wait for the deadline to pass to present them to their client company. So … don’t wait, respond immediately.
2) Recruitment Agencies
The way recruiters work is only in favor of a fortunate few. These people are qualified/have a particular skill with good (at least 2 yrs) experience/have a stable job history with reputable companies/no skeletons in the cupboard/have skills for which there is a great demand/make a good impression physically.
The reality is that you are less likely to succeed through an agency if you:
- are a graduate with little experience
- are in a low-demand/high supply field
- don’t make a good impression physically
- don’t almost perfectly match a current job-order in terms of qualifications, EE status, exact experience required, job titles held and functions filled
The concept of an agency is great, but again, there are big pros and cons.
- Positives of recruitment agencies? They may be well connected and have job-orders or can get you in to places others can’t; some companies have agreements with an agency who recruits exclusively for them; a good recruiter may be a good source of advice re. interview skills etc; an expert recruiter will negotiate the best salary for you.
- Negatives of recruitment agencies? They charge up to 25% of annual salary as a fee – by this one realises that the companies who use agencies to find people for them are usually quite large, have often turned to an agency as a last resort. So agencies DO NOT to any great extent represent the whole market place. They only succeed in placing maybe 1% of people who approach them for help!A big complaint is that in the recruitment industry you will many times be interviewed by a person who is clearly inexperienced and doesn’t understand what you do or where your value lies as a skilled person. Other complaints included that they are not honest with you, they make promises they don’t keep and they may never get back to you about anything.
They may also change your CV without telling you – to coax their client into hiring you leading to embarrassment later and spoiling your professional reputation; And most often they aren’t really interested in you – you are not their client so there is little consequence for poor service to job applicants.
Now, how to use recruitment agents effectively.
- If you come across one who is willing to take an interest in you do anything to stay in their good books. It could pay fabulous dividends over the long term.
- Use a tracking sheet to record all activity with your agency.
- If they setup an appointment for you do your utmost to make it and make it on time and well prepared. They quite likely have worked hard to get the appointment for you – don’t be difficult with them.
- See as many agents as you like but insist that they keep you informed of where they are sending your CV. You have to keep control of where your CV is ending up. In turn you need to keep them informed of where else you are applying.
- Choose an agency by interviewing the agent. He/she will be representing you so can they do it effectively? Do they understand what you do?
- Stay in touch. Tell your agent where you’re going. Give them ideas and leads. Show that you are willing to do your homework. Don’t be another helpless applicant. Make a list of companies that you’d like to work for and why.
- Give them good reasons why those companies should be interested in you. Can you save them money? Can you make them money? By enlisting your agent as an enthusiastic representative of YOU you multiply your presence, power and prospects in the market.
So, with employment agencies realise that you are responsible for finding yourself a job. Don’t expect much from someone who hardly knows you and whose success rate is less than 1% (in terms of CV’s sent in VS people placed). Agencies are an element of your job-search not your whole plan.
3) The Internet
Online job postings and applications! Isn’t this just career heaven! For some – absolutely. But as with other conventional methods there are upsides AND downsides. In fact in one study 96% of people who used the ‘net to find a job ended up finding their job through other means. So although it seems like the perfect matchmaking forum the statistics show that an internet job search is unlikely to find you a job.
- Some popular Internet employment/job sites – www.careerjunction.co.za; www.pnet.co.za; www.careers.iol.co.za; www.careerclassifieds.co.za – there are many more, you can even try www.gumtree.co.za, www.jobmail.co.za
BUT … be aware of what to expect:
- What’s great about the Internet for job hunting? It’s easily accessible; it’s also easy to send a good, concise CV via e-mail no problem;you can make your CV accessible to employers/recruiters 24/7/365; it may cuts out the fee of a recruiting firm – an advantage to the employer.You can also use the Internet to to research companies – and they often advertise their positions on their website (look for the “Careers” link); you can find both local and international job opportunities; you can use forums/communities/bulletin boards/user groups to network; and the Internet is a rich source of information
- But what’s not great about the internet? Only relatively few people have access to facilities – although it is growing; some sites are not kept up to date – so they advertise jobs that are already filled or that don’t exist anymore; it’s easy to waste valuable time and money on the ‘net; and importantly relatively few people report success in finding work this way
So, how to use the internet effectively?
Just use a few sites that work for you – the thing is, using the Internet is a bottomless pit – you can waste valuable time and additionally get distracted by all sorts of frivolous stuff. Limit the time you spend on the net. You could surf all day but this will lead to discouragement, you will be repeating work and it will cost you. The key benefit is as mentioned to use it to research companies – to gather intelligence prior to interviews or as part of your ‘guerrilla’ job search.
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