Tips for landing your dream job

By Danielle van Wyk

As we come to the end of the year and head into another, many are in the process of making big changes. One of those changes and potential stresses could be landing your dream job. Danielle Van Wyk chats to experts about boosting your chances of landing the job you’ve always wanted.

We can all agree that landing your ‘dream job’ is attainable with time, but only through a lot of determination and hard work. Or so all the self-help books and those already in their dream jobs, keep saying. But what can you do to better your chances from the get go?

Practical tips for being the best candidate

Kay Vittee, CEO of Kelly recruitment agency, shares the following tips:

-Do not rely fully on your experience: “Use the experience you already have as a stepping stone to your dream job and bear in mind that, with or without the required experience, past performance does not necessarily guarantee career success,” states Vittee.

What will determine success is your motivation, diligence and whether you fit into the company’s culture.

-Explore part-time or volunteering opportunities: It may seem a sacrifice but if you want a job badly enough it is one you may have to make.

“Volunteering or working for free can propel you to your dream job and get you the experience required. Involving yourself in the industry will also enable you to meet likeminded people who could help you along to your next step,” adds Vittee.

-Start today: Do not wait for the ‘perfect time’ or the ‘perfect age’.

“The sooner you take the chances and steps it takes to reach your goals, the sooner you can experience them. So with that, do not procrastinate to pursue your dream,” Vittee comments.

-Maintain a healthy online presence- “A major influencer in today’s society, it is crucial for job-seekers and employees to keep their online profiles ‘employer friendly’. Your prospective employer might just decide to Google you and with one look at your Facebook profile picture, he or she may decide against hiring you,” Vittee adds.

Build your band in the industry that you want to thrive in. A great way of doing this is by writing and publishing articles (on either a blog your LinkedIn Profile post) on critical and influential subject matter thereby establishing yourself as a thought leader, adds Jackie Haripersad, branch manager of ThornTree recruitment agency.

-Your education is key –Look for courses with reputable educational institutions that are aligned with requirements for your dream job.

“If you cannot afford to start out with a degree, start by taking online tutorials or short courses while working to pay for more detailed training,” advises Vittee.

Another great advantage is being able to successfully network.

“Being a great networker is key, so is being part of forums that represent your own personal brand. In the past, skill level was very critical to landing the dream job, however these days employers are looking for more than just skill. They are looking to build a partnership with their prospective employees, one where there’s mutual respect, and equal drive and focus on achieving success,” Haripersad adds.

This partnership is more often than not reliant on availability and access. “Be at the places that your potential employer will be at, for examples, attending workshops, conferences and networking breakfasts, or wherever the prospective employer has a presence. Participate in their conversations online by interacting with them via their blog or social media platforms,” suggests Haripersad.

Another thing that jobseekers tend to neglect is their CV.

“Get your CV out there. Make sure it is on all the major job boards. Make sure you have a detailed LinkedIn profile. Make sure your CV and other profiles are optimised so that the keywords that someone would search for in order to find someone who does the job you do are on the CV. If the right keywords aren't on the CV or profile, then you will not come up in a search.

“Ensure that your CV has dates of previous jobs and the reasons for leaving. Especially if you have been doing lots of contract work. If a recruiter sees a lot of short term placements, they will think that you show a lack of commitment. If you show that those placements are temporary contracts and the reason you left is because the contract was finished this will make you look a lot better,” highlights Dennis Schöntauf, KZN regional manager for Measured Ability Group Holdings recruitment agency.

Qualities employers’ value

Attitude can be the most important thing, in your job search and even during the interview process.

“Being willing to go that little bit extra goes a long way. If you are interested and motivated, employers are going to be falling over each other to hire you. If you are really good at what you do, people are going to try and headhunt you. If you are complacent, and just do the bare minimum, you are not going to get very far in this world,” Schöntauf urges.

One also often overhears people talk about initiative, and Tammy Lederle, owner of Brandnew creative agency pegs as this as an important quality.

“When a candidate shows a proper understanding of our business, and it’s apparent that s/he has done their research. When a candidate has brought ideas, projects, concepts or opportunities with them to the interview that could prove lucrative or exciting for our business. One candidate had researched a very interesting and potentially hugely valuable value add application which she would bring to the business if employed. Adding value and solving a problem for your prospective employer is everything,” Lederle adds.

Another vital quality or skill is the ability to work well in a team. “Nearly every manager will tell you that teamwork is a critical attribute for anybody on his or her team. Be ready to answer the question “Tell me about how you function on a team” with a colourful story about a situation that required teamwork, and in which your team came through,” states Forbes.

The current job climate

While most would agree that the economy is under tremendous strain currently, “The busyness of recruitment agencies are testament to the fact that there are still plenty of jobs out there,” states Schöntauf. “There are definitely lots of jobs for skilled people. We have a huge skills deficit in this country, and it can be extremely hard to fill skilled candidates to fill positions. Unskilled work is harder to find as there are plenty of unskilled unemployed out there. However employers are definitely trying to save money on salaries, and it can be hard to find well paying positions, depending on your level of experience.”

These days there are also increasingly more recruitment agencies that are willing to simplify your search for you, by acting as the go between, between you and the company looking to hire.

Job searching can definitely be a gruelling task, but through applying the above expert advice, you’re bound to stand out and better your chances of landing that dream job.

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