Article image for first-time job seekers


Youth Month – Four Pointers for first-time job seekers

Be intentional about guiding and supporting our youth. It is the best way to build a flourishing future ~ Anja van Beek

I have seen many people getting stuck, settling for a job just because it is the first one available. This is not necessarily the best approach. If you are a first-time job seeker I want to share some tips with you:

  • Putting a CV  together

Focus on the basics and most important: Run a spelling and grammar check. Also give the document a professional file name e.g., CV_KMadikwa so that when you need it, you can find it. It will also give a good impression when attached to an email application letter.

People often waste too much space on the fixed info (names, address, contact details etc.). Try to reduce or space it in such a way that it does not take more than half a page including your CV profile.  The CV profile is short and to the point. The intension is to hold the readers’ attention and provide a summary of your most valuable industry experience, skills, and highlight the benefits of employing you. 

When sharing work experience, do it in a reversed chronological order with the most recent job first. Be mindful to not only list responsibilities but also show the value and impact you made. You may not be able to do this for every point on your CV, but always try where possible. 

The seven areas that you can consider showing your impact is: cost saving, revenue generation, problems solved, time saved, awards & recognition, increased production and efficiency.

Pro-tip: Think outside of the box and have a CV that is unique. Have a look at this innovative one on LinkedIn  CV example. Two weeks after the post, this HR Intern had secured 2 permanent offers. 

  • Interview tips

An approach that I followed in my corporate days was: “hire the attitude, teach the skill”. This seems to be a trend nowadays and keep it in mind when preparing for the interview. The interview process is the opportunity for you to sell yourself. You can showcase your talents and achievements – be confident, yet remain humble.

Prepare questions related to the culture and financial stability of the company and not only questions related to the job itself. As a candidate you might be interested to hear what the interviewer loves about working for the company.

In the virtual environment ensure that your camera is eye height and that you either have natural light or a lamp to lit up your face. If you use Zoom you can hide your self-view if you find it distracting. 

Pro-tip: Research indicates that 60% of millennials don’t negotiate a salary when receiving their first job offers. This can be a costly career decision. That starting salary is such an important key to financial success, as it impacts compensation rates for years to come.

  • First few weeks in a new role

The first few weeks in any new role can be challenging and overwhelming. New people to meet, processes to learn and in the hybrid world you might not have the “luxury” of meeting the other colleagues face-to-face.

Every company is doing their induction and onboarding differently but do insist on sufficient time with your direct manager. Use this time to clarify and have a conversation around different styles and what expectations are from one another. Most importantly, have a clear understanding of what your goals are for week 1, month 1 and quarter 1.  

Pro-tip: Neuroscience has shown that doing a charity project with colleagues support the sense of belonging and bonding of a team. Connect with the corporate social investment programme, and if the company doesn’t have one in place suggest starting with a project.

  • Be a lifelong learner with a spirit of generosity

To be successful, the best approach is to adopt a growth mindset and see every interaction as a learning opportunity. Even the parts that seem like a “mistake or failure” can be turned into a learning moment. Do share these learnings with the team! 

A principle to remember is reverse mentoring. This is your opportunity to “educate” more senior members on topics, often tech-related, where you can add value. You can pass skills or knowledge to a more senior member of the team and demonstrate a spirit of generosity.

Pro-tip: In the fast, ever-changing world of work ensure that you create the necessary habits and boundaries for you to flourish in your new job. Self-leadership is finding the balance between stress (energy expenditure) and recovery (energy renewal). To add to that keep in mind that resilience is not about bouncing back but about growing and learning from the challenges you face.

Your first job is such a significant milestone and stepping-stone in your professional life. By following these tips it can be a more rewarding experience while balancing some of the stress and challenges of a brand-new work setting.

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