Sunday, 15 April 2012

Open Letter to a Frustrated Job Seeker

Dear Job Seeker,

I trust that this letter will find you in good health. I have thought over and over about how to write this. What do you say to someone who has been looking for a job for a long time? What words do you write that would change their scenario? The truth of the matter is I do not know. However, what I do know is I can share my experience with you and maybe you may find some encouragement out of it.

I will not lie and say that I know how you are feeling and that I have been in your shoes before because the reality is I have not. I have one important thing to say nonetheless. Looking for a job in Zambia like in any part of the world is not very easy. It is a cumbersome and stressful activity. In Zambia this situation is further compounded by very few job opportunities and yet thousands are graduating every year. Frustrated job seeker in order to enhance your chances of getting employed you need to look at yourself differently.
It is important that you begin to view yourself as a BRAND. In the similar way that Coca Cola, MTN or Nestle are brands, you too need to consider yourself as a brand. Gone are the days when having a diploma or a degree was the Holy Grail to a job. Times have changed and so should your approach to looking for employment. The sad reality is when a job offer is posted in the papers thousands of similar CVs are received and it is often a herculean task to come up with a short list because almost all CVs are the same. I know this because once I had an internship with a recruitment firm. It always takes something different on the CV to grab the attention of the recruiter.
So what if you have your diploma or your degree? Nowadays anyone can get that therefore you need to find something within you that is unique, an ability that will set you apart from the rest. This is what I mean about branding. You need to view yourself as an asset to any company that you apply to. Others will use their years of experience as assets. This is what will set them apart from the rest. However, for those who do not have this experience it is not to despair, I too did not have it at one time. Nonetheless, I showed my prospective employers that I would be an asset to them based on how I branded myself.
I often give this example, assuming you were a recruiter and you received a CV from someone who spoke six languages, English, French, Chinese, Spanish, Tonga, and Russian. Even though the individual might not have the right experience or even the right qualification for the job it is still likely that you like to meet this individual. You would want to find out more about them and how they learnt all the six languages. It is not every day that you come across such a CV. My point being you may not have the years of experience but everyone has a unique talent in them that not everyone is blessed with. There is something about you that when someone mentions your name they associate you with it. For some people, they are good organisers, others are good artists, for some they have amazing technical skills, some it is excellent marketing abilities. These are the attributes that you should highlight on your CV but very few do.
Before the experience I acquired I used to sell two brands to my prospective employer. I am an individual with an entrepreneurial mind and I am also creative through writing. I began businesses which were not registered, some failed and others succeeded. However, before I obtained my experience I used to include my informal businesses. Whether you succeed in business or not the fact cannot be disputed that each business is a learning experience. I would tell the interviewer that I am creative I came up with the business idea, I know about customer service that is how I kept my customers, I know about marketing it is how I sold my service, I know about administration because I kept good records and the list went on.
You need to find something that is not only different but what will also make you an asset to any company. If it means getting a professional qualification, learning another language or developing your talent please do so. Many people fail to utilise their talents because most often in a misplaced attempt at humbleness they hide their talents. I am a writer and I am developing my talent every day. This blog is mere testimony. It has opened opportunities for me that I never initially imagined. At my place of work I am the one who writes the reports for social gatherings such as office football, office functions and other such events. I have carved myself a niche. Speak to any of my friends and the one thing they will probably describe me by is either the one who writes or the business minded one. What do people know you by?
Indeed we can sit, find excuses and throw a pity party. We can blame it on the government, corruption, generational curse, bad luck or even lack of experience. It will still not change the fact that you are unemployed. Instead you can decide to reflect and think what brand you are selling out there. Package yourself as an asset rather than a liability or as if you are owed a job. Your CV needs to reflect the brand called YOU. Ask yourself the question, would you hire you and why?
All the best.

Yours faithfully
Frustrated Brotha.


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  2. For those not willing to follow this self marketing to the core i have advice for you. Major in a health/medical field. Believe you me it will not be much of a hustle to get a job. Diseases are increasing and so is the demand for health personnel, till kingdom comes.

  3. Good advise mt freind you couldnt have said that any better.

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