• Makheni Zonneveld

#3 Future Readiness and Job hunting

Updated: Feb 19, 2019


This post is part of the free Future Readiness service. This is the 3rd in the 5-part series of answers to the second two please click here. If you have not yet subscribed please click here or watch the 4-minute video on the homepage of makheni.com.


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Q:

“Dear Makheni

My aunt advised me to subscribe to your list and ask my future readiness questions. I am a 24-year job-seeker. I am an unemployed Business Management graduate from Springs near Johannesburg. In the past 18 months I have tried everything to find employment. How can future readiness help me in my search for employment? Any job will do”. Linda (not her real name)


A:

Dear Linda

I hope that you did ponder on the two tasks under What next?


What next? (from last week)

1. Go through your original answers to the questions above and then answer them again in the light of today’s input.

2. Check out job postings to find out what potential buyers of skills need. Employers are simply customers for the skills you are selling.


I hope that the second task was an eye-opener. Usually when you look at job postings you are the starting point. In the task that you did this past week your prospective customer, otherwise known as your prospective employer, was the starting point. Successful salespeople always find out what the pain of their prospective customers is. Successful selling is simply offering the best remedy for a prospect’s pain. I know that when people look for a job they do not realise that they are simply in a sales process. Task 2 should thus be an ongoing exercise because the marketplace changes all the time.


Todays’ elephant burger is on the last question you answered in the previous task. “Who could possibly invest in my skills? Do I have to sell my skills to an employer or are there other options?”


I hope that by now you have come to terms with the fact that what you call ‘job-seeking’ is a ‘sales process’. It is crucial to start with that mental shift.


Who could possibly pay for Linda’s skills? Someone who has a problem that Linda’s skills solve. When you think this way you package your skills as a solution.


The process of selling your skills to prospective employers differs significantly from the process of selling skills to an end user. Let’s start with the first one because it is related to your original question. You guessed right, selling your skills to non-employers is in another elephant burger.


Armed with the insights you gained from completing the tasks of the first two weeks, you now see the marketplace differently and you have a list of skills that you could possibly sell. now it's a matter of how you package them. Selling your skills to prospective employers entails a different sales process than selling them to end users. You should keep the following in mind:


1. How you package your skills in your CV’s.

2. How you package yourself on social media.

3. How you package yourself at an interview.


You have absolute control over the first two and they play a significant role in determining whether you make it to the interview or not. You have no control over the decision to invite you to an interview but the first two help you to influence that decision.


1. How you package your skills in your CV’s

CV’s? Plural? Do not make the mistake of having a one-size-fits-all CV. E.g. As a speaker I have different profiles. Imagine 3 different clients – one is looking for someone who can speak on leadership, another wants a speaker who can speak on ‘Cognitive diversity and team cohesion’ and the last one wants a speaker who can speak on ‘Everyday life in SA’ a topic that makes sense when you live outside SA. I speak on all three and do you think that a single profile that says 'she has real life management experience and she has written a successful book on leadership' will impress the second and the third clients? If this does not convince you that you should keep customising your CV, then nothing else will.


Having said that, your CV should always be truthful and devoid of any embellishments.


Content

Employment history (I know that this is not relevant to you at the moment)

Do not go into too much detail on the specific job functions, especially the ones that are not relevant to the position you are applying for.


Skills

State technical skills and although your CV should be short and to the point, you should include your character and behavioural skills like punctuality, attention to detail, willingness to learn, communication skills, being solution oriented, honesty, good interpersonal skills, can work under pressure, can adapt easily to change (a critical skill in the workplace of the future) etc, Always be truthful. Do not say that you are punctual when you only arrive on time for an interview.


Achievements

Include even achievements that are not relevant to the position you are applying for. Your CV should make an interview obsolete – it should represent who you are and not just a dry listing of your academic qualifications and work experience.


References

Before you include people as references ask for their permission and ask which contact details you should put on your CV. Don’t just circulate people’s personal contact details.


Spellcheck

Spellcheck is free of charge! Enough said!


Format

I have seen many CV’s in my life and sadly very few impressive ones. Remember, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is going to read your CV. Have you ever considered what it is like to go through hundreds of documents in limited time?


The main activity this person is busy with is sending CVs to the trashcan even before reading them only based on visual appeal. Thus, readability plays a major role.



If you want your CV to be readable lose the following:

· Capital letters (strictly only for the beginning of a sentence or a name)

· Lines - a table is useful if you want text to be in neat columns but always remove all the lines from the table before you save your document

· Unnecessary personal details like gender, age, marital status and number of children unless they are relevant to the position.


Your document should have some white space. Something like 1,2 looks better than single formatting.


Believe it or not - this is an example of a first page of a CV. I only covered the personal info.

Do not waste space with the first page that only contains the announcement ‘CV of Linda Surname’ or dedicate the whole first page to your personal details as in the example above.


This whole first page screams, ‘Please send me to the trash folder!’ Your contact details do not sell you and they only become relevant when the person wants to contact you. It is sufficient to put them on the header of the document or even on the last page.


2. How you package yourself on social media

References are just a formality these days. The main reference is now social media.


Many people think that LinkedIn has to do with professional life but Facebook has to do with personal life and is thus not relevant to professional life. Big mistake. Project a professional image on all platforms. Even if you choose to drink alcohol, being seen with a glass of alcohol on social media makes you look like a drunkard.


Have a professional looking profile picture on all social media. Even if you cannot afford a professional photographer you can stand in front of a plain wall with good lighting like daylight and ask a friend to take a picture that shows your face clearly. A profile picture is not an opportunity to show off what you own or your cute kids or partner. A profile picture is like your logo. Remember, you are the salesperson and the product. Do not listen to those who advice you to keep changing your profile picture just to get attention - you can use other pictures for that.


Remove pictures that do not portray a professional image. If someone else posted them, no problem. Ask him/her to remove the picture and if he/she refuses Facebook will block his/her account. You should not ask verbally - send an email so you can prove to Facebook that the person refused to remove the picture.


Describing yourself as a job-seeker on LinkedIn does not help you to sell your skills. Rather describe your skills.


3. How you package yourself at an interview.

There are 3 important aspects of an interview. 1. Prepare. 2. Prepare. 3. Prepare. Find out as much as possible about the company – thanks to the internet, that task is super simplified.


Study every aspect of the job posting. Preparing includes preparing intelligent questions. Anticipate questions and prepare answers, especially questions that have to do with why you do not meet the requirements. The fact that you are invited to the interview means they are considering you in spite of not meeting all the requirements. A manager who is looking for a good secretary knows that it takes a few days of training to polish up your excel skills but it takes a miracle to change an unfriendly person into a friendly one.


Unless you are going for an interview at an informal business, lose the cleavage, nose rings, tongue rings, tattoos etc. It is easy to lose a tattoo with long sleeves. I met an angry young woman in one of my diversity workshops. She related a story of someone who according to her was discriminated against. She was told that she would be employed as a cleaner at a retirement home on condition she covered the huge tattoo on her arm with long sleeves because it could upset some of the elderly people. She did not take the job and she is still unemployed. She does not get it - the employer does not want to upset the clients. In fact she is lucky because she was told - most of the time you repeat the same mistake because no one tells you.


Dress professionally. Professionally simply means in accordance with the profession and does not have anything to do with looking stunning.


Avoid perfume – your favourite fragrance may be too strong or offensive to someone else. If you are a smoker, make sure you have no cigarette smell – it is a very unpleasant smell for non-smokers. However, if smoking is relevant to the job and you are asked whether you smoke or not you should be honest about it.


Rather arrive an hour early and wait at reception or on a park bench than start the interview with apologising for being late. While waiting, read a book that helps you to be in a positive frame of mind or listen to music that does the same for you – on earphones of course.


Stand tall. Walk tall. Sit tall. Smile from the moment you arrive – it is likely that you will be the only smiling candidate.


No matter how desperate you are, do not look desperate.


To avoid nervousness and come across as relaxed:

1. Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

2. Decide upfront that you are going to answer each question truthfully - making up lies is very stressful and your body language will expose you.

3. See the possibility of not getting the job in the right perspective – it’s only an interview, no one is going to die. There may be someone who is better qualified so no matter how hard you try you will not always get the position. You can only do your best and nothing more.


I hope that you have noticed that apart from the social media part, everything else was relevant decades ago, and is still relevant today. These tips remain relevant because in spite of the digitalisation of the world, interviewers remain human beings - Homo sapiens and not Robo sapiens.


I repeat, thinking skills and people skills will remain crucial skills in the workplace of the future. Most technical skills are automated anyway so unless you are an IT professional, most of the time the technical skill you require is how to click a mouse.


What next?

Prepare a good standard CV that you will tweak to suit different requirements.

The next elephant burger is the last on selling your skills to employers before we move to selling your skills to non-employers which is a totally different ball game.


Till next week


Makheni your Future Readiness Coach


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Makheni Zonneveld has extensive experience in helping organisations, teams, individuals and entrepreneurs with real transformation. She employs these communications tools: Online and face2face coaching, speaking, training, storytelling and writing.


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