My story is not hugely different from many, I started my career with no degree as I did not know what I wanted to do for a living. I worked hard and I got retrenched, four times to be exact (twice I had to retrench myself as it was the company I was heading up). Each time I had to dust myself off and get back on to the job search challenge. And each time I figured out better and smarter ways to stand out from the crowd (the job search crowd). So today I thought I would share what I learnt each time ….
1. Your CV is the first impression – make it count
A black and white CV does not stand out in your job search! Now days you get so many different types (and Microsoft Word even gives you free templates). Adding some simple colour in your header or highlighting your name will make you stand out from the crowd. But make sure you stand out. To get an idea go to Google – type in ‘CV stand out’ – click on Images – and find lots of options.
2. Following up in your job search will make you stand out
Most applicants do something we call ‘spray and pray’ when job searching. They apply for every possible job out there and then wait. If you find a job that sounds awesome, you have the experience and most of the top 5 requirements, then email or phone the recruiter a week later, to check if your application was received. You will be amazed how many times an applicant that just sounded interested got the job!
3. Saying thank you stands you above the rest (I promise)
General manners are often missed! If you do finally get to have an interview or your application was finally answered, say THANK YOU! Again, you will stand above the other applicants who do not. Being in the recruiting game I can tell you the handful of times when 3 candidates made the first round of interviews, one sent a lovely thank you email to the interviewer and stood out purely with that email from the other 2. Gratitude goes a long way. As my mother would say, check your manners at the door.
4. Tenure makes you stand out
Many people will not like this tip but tenure, meaning staying at a company longer than two years, makes you stand out. So many candidates ‘job hop’ – meaning they find a job and leave within a few months or just after one year. If you were not retrenched, then you chose to leave, for whatever reason. On your CV it looks like you job hop and shows no loyalty, commitment, or hard work.
We often see candidates leave for ‘growth’. Trust me after one year in a company, moving for growth is not the real reason – it is usually for money or you did not like the company/boss. Companies want to see that you will stay, work hard (no matter the fact that you do not like your boss), be loyal, show commitment and have some grit/staying power. Moving once in your career due to unworkable conditions is understandable, doing it in every job shows you are the common denominator.
5. Awards make you stand out
I work closely with the Kay Mason Foundation (www.kmf.org.za) and tell the kids in high school that leadership roles will make you stand out! So, add in your CV if you were a prefect, sport captain or if you received an award later in business. Employee of the month, year or outstanding salesman will make you stand out in your CV. It is a clear reference that you stood out amongst the crowd in a business (and school) and will probably do it again. Stand out and shine!
I often get CV’s showing people’s hobbies such as running, reading and even ‘collecting tarantulas’. These are great but do not show what you are going to do for a business (what I often read is how long will the hobby take from you being productive). Rather show how great you are with awards, your education (write if you got a distinction) and show clearly how much you enjoyed working at your previous companies.
As Dr Seuss said ‘Why fit in when you were born to stand out’!!!
Links to help you stand out:
Make your CV stand out (some professional help): https://jobcrystal.co.za/services.php
Use LinkedIn to have a public work profile: www.linkedin.com
*Sasha Knott started her career as a waitress and formally started working in the corporate world as an administrator and then finally going into IT as a computer programmer. Having completed her BCom while working, and recently completed her Honours with Distinction, Sasha is passionate about helping others find careers that build themselves and SME’s. Having started three businesses and working on her fourth, to ensure disruption works for the end user, using IT, to make it effortless and cost effective.