Why you may still be jobless

In recent times, finding a job even after graduating from the university has become a huge challenge facing most job seekers.

As a recruiter, one of the most important advise I give to job seekers is to be aggressive and reach out to as many potential employers as possible. At the same time, I advise against applying for every single job vacancy that you come across. Not all  job openings out there are for you, so you don’t need to apply for every single one of them. It is one thing to find a job, it’s another to love what you do and the latter is extremely important. You therefore need to be very strategic in sending out your applications.

Job search is hard and draining. It sometimes turns into a full time job in itself and it is very easy to get very frustrated especially when there is no response at all from the places you have sent out your applications to. With that said, as a job seeker, you must first establish what exactly you want to do. Which area are you looking to work in? For instance, human resource, front office, procurement etc. What are you really passionate about? Your area of passion may not necessarily be the area you have trained in, e.g. you may have a degree in human resource management, but your passion is in fashion and design. You will therefore enjoy working in the fashion industry as opposed to a HR department. When you are passionate about something, you don’t need to be pushed, supervised or threatened to deliver.

Seek quality, not quantity. It is not about how many CVs you have sent out, but the potential in the areas you have sent those CVs to. Sometimes, it will take longer for what you are seeking to come along, so you must learn to exercise patience. Just don’t be a jerk of all trades, because in the end, you become a master of none. Learn to give time some time.

Avoid trying to climb the tree from the top too. That you hold a Bachelors degree certificate in HRM does not make you a master in HR practice. You need to acquire some practical experience, and this takes time. Start from the bottom, earn the ropes, observe how things are done and build up your experience. When you try to apply for a Human Resource Manager position in a multinational company with just a bachelors degree certificate and zero prior work experience in the same field is making a joke out of yourself. I remember being offered a Procurement Manager position by a certain potential employer and I had to turn down the offer because I know nothing about procurement. Infact, I have zero interest in working in that field. Not that I do not appreciate on the job training, but I believe that having some basic knowledge about the area goes a long way. I took up a HRO position with a much much lower pay and had to gradually work my way up.

Finally, do not wait for companies to advertise for jobs so you can apply for them. There is a saying that goes, ‘if the mountain does not go to Mohamed, Mohamed must go to the mountain‘ (this is my version). There are companies with job openings in the area you seeking and the don’t even know they need someone to fill, or they know, but are just buying time. It is your duty to remind them that that position needs to be filled. When I lost my job a while back, I remember dropping off my CV at a random company I saw on my way to church. Coincidentally, they had a vacancy for HR but had not been keen on filling it up. The manner in which I aggressively followed up on it left them with no other choice but to hire me. The gentleman turned out to be one of my biggest mentors.

Not every door that is closed is actually locked. You need to push it a little bit, it might just open.

Referrals vs Advertisement

I haven’t sat in many interview panels as an interviewer or interviewee. In fact, the thought of sitting in makes me a lot uncomfortable. As an interviewer, there is always a chance that you may let your feelings cloud your objectivity among other risks. As an interviewee, I have always preferred more of a “discussion” than the traditional interview. The latter focuses more on standard questions that have been asked over the years. In fact, most of the interview tips in the internet have listed these questions and proposed answers.

I often find myself debating whether it is better to advertise jobs and go through the normal application process or go out and seek referrals. Both methods work to various degrees of success. However, certain critical roles especially at a slightly senior level require a mix, if not outright referrals. At an executive level, recruiters have always opted for head-hunting, even when they put adverts of the same jobs on newspapers and other recruitment sites.

So, why is this so? A few reasons come into mind:

  1. Some roles are very critical to the organization and employers do not want to take any chances. As a matter of fact, there’s no learning curve and one is expected to hit the ground running from the word go. Results are expected almost instantly. As an accountant, I realized most companies employ accountants when they (company) are already in crisis. Such a task needs a tried, tested and confirmed hand
  2. Many job-seekers have mastered the art of writing CVs and answering interview questions. In fact, it is not uncommon to see companies inviting job-seekers to be “taught” on how to “prepare a job-winning CV” or answer interview questions. Very little is mentioned on the individual’s capacity to actually do the job. Recruiting on the basis of a “perfect CV” or “best interview answers” has proven fatal to many employers
  3. Instances of fraud and other misdemeanors have also necessitated having a “known” person in your team. It helps a big deal to not worry that your employee will engage in such. Should that happen, you also have the comfort that you can trace the person to the original referee.

It is important to note that not all referrals go according to plan. An advise I give both parties is to always do their own checks even if the candidate is referred. As a job-seeker, check out the potential employer to ensure they fit your desires. To the employer, it is critical that you do the necessary reviews to avoid embracing everything just because the candidate was referred. At the end of the day, referral is not an endorsement!