Print Page   |   Contact Us   |   Sign In   |   Join APSO Now!
Community Search
In the Hiring line
Group HomeGroup Home Blog Home Group Blogs

Finding a job is a job. 10 steps to success

Posted By Natalie Singer, 06 June 2013


You’ve completed your schooling but aren’t able to enter tertiary education, either due to lack of suitable qualification or financial challenges. What do you do now?


For many South Africans who leave high school, the only option open to them is to go out and find a job. But, considering the very high unemployment statistics and the current recession, this isn’t as easy as it sounds. Like most things in life, finding a job needs to be something that you take seriously, that you prepare for and work on diligently until you succeed.


Life doesn’t always work out perfectly but preparing yourself for the process of finding a job will definitely improve your chances of succeeding. Follow these 10 steps to success.


Step 1: Have the right attitude

Your attitude will play a big part in your quest to find a job. Remember that you need to stay focused and be positive. It’s said that positivity is the first step to success. You need to believe in yourself and ensure that you come across as motivated, positive and realistic when dealing with potential employers. We all have dreams and whilst we might all want to become the next Tokyo Sexwale, we need to remember that we have to start at the bottom and work our way up. We need to be realistic about our current abilities, skills and experience.


Don’t turn down a job because you don’t think it meets your ambitions. Some of the most successful people in the world started their careers in entry-level jobs. Richard Branson worked in a record store because he never finished his schooling but he never believed them when they said that "he’d never amount to anything”.


Don’t discount the value of volunteer work. Whilst you might not be earning any money, you will be earning experience and this will definitely assist you in securing a paying job later. I studied to be a journalist and because I didn’t go to a technikon, I was at a disadvantage when it came to working experience. I decided to approach Independent Newspapers for a job. They told me that they weren’t hiring but when I explained that I just wanted to work there and didn’t expect to be paid, they took me on straight away – which business wouldn’t want an extra pair of hands, especially if it doesn’t cost them anything? Within a few months I was able to apply for a position as a sub-editor at a magazine and I only got this paying job because of my experience at the newspaper.


Step 2: Prepare your CV


Your CV is your marketing tool and is often the only thing a potential employer will see before considering you for a job. It is very important that your CV is an accurate reflection of your qualification and experience and that it is free from errors. Your CV should include all important information about you including Personal Details, Qualification, Experience and a Reference. If you don’t have a work reference available, ask your Headmaster, Pastor or someone else of importance within your community. Remember that they need to be able to give a character reference and so need to know you well.


Your CV should always be typed. You may need to ask someone for assistance – visit your local Internet café or even your library where you will be able to make use of a computer. Things to consider when creating your CV:

  • Make sure that you’ve done a spell check and that there are no spelling mistakes
  • Make sure that the CV is neatly laid out and that all information is included in the correct place
  • Make sure that your contact numbers are very clear on the CV so that a potential employer can quickly get hold of you if they’re interested in calling you in for an interview
  • Try and keep the CV as short and sweet as possible – 2 pages maximum
  • Make sure that your CV is up-to-date. Correct info including contact details and add any work experience as you get it.
  • Because many companies require you to email your CV to them, as opposed to faxing it, you should set up an email address. There are many free email addresses to choose from – hotmail, Gmail and others.

Step 3: Get your CV in as many places as possible


Looking for a job is hard work and will require that you spend time researching vacancies and opportunities. I suggest that you get your CV on the many job portals that exist because this means that your CV will be accessible to many hundreds of recruitment companies and potential employers. These websites are free and you can simply upload your CV onto the sites – most of them have simple templates where you capture your information. Visit your local Internet café, Department of Labour Centre or library with Internet access. Go to any of the following job sites:

You should also keep an eye out for the job sections of your local newspaper where jobs will be advertised by recruitment agencies or potential employers. Remember that whilst you are trying to get your CV in as many places as possible, you should only apply for jobs for which you are suitably qualified or experienced.


Visit your local Department of Labour Centre where you can register as a work seeker. They will be able to keep you informed of any job opportunities, temporary or permanent, in your area. Some of the Labour Centre’s also offer job counseling and career guidance so make sure you register for these workshops if they’re available in your area.


Step 4: Dress for the job you want, not the one you have (or don’t have)


It is very important that you behave appropriately throughout your job search process. This means that you need to ensure that not only during interviews, but all the time, you act the way you would if you were around your potential boss. This doesn’t just mean the clothes that you wear but also how you engage with people on the phone.


Remember that when you’re looking for a job you should ensure that you always answer your phone professionally and not how you’d speak to your friends or family. Also make sure that you have voicemail facilities set up on your phone and that the message is professional. The message should clearly identify your name and surname so that a potential employer can be sure they’re dealing with you and can leave a message for you to contact them back. Remove any ringtones, voicemails or other cell functions that could be offensive or put off a potential employer from contacting you again.


First impressions last so be sure to give a good one at all times! If you are invited to attend an interview, make sure that you’re dressed appropriately. You must ensure that your clothes are suitable for the job you’re applying for. Rather opt for conservative clothing – trousers and a collared shirt for men and trousers/skirt and a nice blouse for women. Don’t wear anything that could be seen to be too revealing or in poor condition. You and your clothes should be clean and neat. Make sure that you fix any hems, buttons or other problems if there are any.


Shower, wash your hair, brush your teeth and put on deodorant before going to the interview. You need to look your best to impress. Looking good also helps you to feel more confident and this is always a plus when you go into an interview.


Step 5: Manage your time and always be punctual


Potential employers will be looking at everything about you during the recruitment process. They will specifically look to see if you’re reliable and able to manage your time efficiently. This means that you must ensure that you arrive for the interview on time. If you’re not sure where you’re going or how to get there rather be very early than late. If you arrive more than 15 minutes before your appointment time, rather go and get a cold drink, take a walk or wait somewhere else. Being too early can be just as bad as being late.


If the potential employer asks you to send them extra information or call them after the interview, be sure to do this before the agreed time. The potential employer will be checking to see if you’re trustworthy and able to follow instructions and meet deadlines.
Step 6: Preparing for the interview


You should always prepare for a job interview. It’s normal to feel nervous about the interview but you need to try and manage your nerves. You can feel more confident, and therefore less nervous, if you are prepared and know what to expect during the interview. Ask the potential employer or recruiter what format the interview will take, whether there will be any skills assessments and who you will be meeting.


If possible, try and find out more about the potential employer before the interview by looking out for articles about them in the newspaper, visiting their website or asking friends or family if they know about them.


Remember that you will be asked questions about your qualifications and experience. Always be truthful – you will be caught out if you lie and this will seriously jeopardise your chances of finding employment. Understand how you’d answer questions like:

  • What kind of job would you like to be doing?
  • Do you have any plans in terms of where you’d like your career to be in 3 or 5 years time?
  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?

Think about how you could use examples from your school life, sporting achievements and other aspects of your life to show that you’d make a good employee. Have you held leadership roles at school, in Church or on the sports field? Do you display discipline through your sports practice regimes?


Step 7: Interview "rules of engagement”


There is a definite set of rules that apply during a job interview. You should always behave professionally and with respect. Refer to people you engage with during the interview as "Mr” or "Mrs” so-and-so. Remember to be polite and always use "please” and "thank you”.


Don’t be afraid to ask an interviewer to repeat the question if you’re unsure what they’re asking. Never be afraid to admit that you don’t know the answer – tell them that you’re not sure but attempt to provide an answer as you understand the question. You should show interest in the job you’re applying for and ask questions of the interviewer. These questions could involve asking about career development opportunities, training opportunities etc but should never be about money, holiday and sick leave or other aspects that seem to show that you’re only interested in the job for "what’s in it for me”.


Step 8: Watch your body language


80% of communication is non-verbal and this means that the way that you’re dressed, your facial expressions and your body language all provide feedback to your interviewer. Be sure to consciously manage these non-verbal forms of communication during your interview. Whilst there are differences culturally when it comes to body language, you need to pay careful attention to the following during an interview:

  • Sit up straight in the chair – no slouching
  • Don’t fidget. If you’re nervous, fold your hands in your lap rather
  • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer – if you don’t look at them they’ll either think you’re too shy or trying to hide something
  • Shake hands firmly with the interviewer
  • Don’t cross your arms – this comes across as being a defensive gesture
  • Talk slowing and clearly


Step 9: Remember to smile


Smiling releases endorphins, the body’s natural antidote to stress, and these help to fight the nerves brought on by stress. Stand up straight, think positive thoughts and smile – you will feel and look much more confident! Remember to smile when you talk on the phone too, the person on the other side will be able to "hear” that you’re smiling and will immediately feel more positively about you.


Step 10: If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again

It’s highly unlikely that you will get the first job you apply for. Remember that every time you attend an interview you are gaining experience that will hopefully assist you in better managing your nerves and improving your chances of getting the next job.
It’s easy to become despondent during the job search process but remember that potential employers are more likely to consider a candidate who is positive, upbeat and confident. Rather than get yourself down on what you’d consider "failed interviews” focus on the positive lessons you can learn from the experience.

Practice your interview skills and improve your presentation and you’ll be one step closer to getting your first job.

Tags:  attitude  body language  CV  dress code  honesty  interview  job portal  job search  practice  punctuality  recruiter  skills  volunteering 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

What's in name?

Posted By Natalie Singer, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

Plenty; especially if you’re considering making a career move.

For the majority of skilled individuals, choosing a potential employer is a critical decision that could make – or break – your future career. For many people however, it is accepted as the "norm” that recruiters don’t divulge the name of the client until an interview with the client has been set up. This is not correct and flies in the face, not only of the APSO Code of Ethical & Professional Practice, but international best practice too.

Consider for a moment, the amount of personal information that is contained within your CV and the potential for disaster should it become widely known that you’re seeking alternative employment. Wouldn’t you rather know exactly where your CV is going, to whom, and for what?

The South African job market is in fact rather small, particularly for those individuals who have chosen to specialise and offer their skills within a niche market. It is critical therefore that you choose to engage with a professional recruiter who understands that you need all of the information, most importantly who the client is, to make a decision on whether to consider the job opportunity on offer.

As an individual who engages regularly with recruiters, I’ve heard all the excuses under the sun for not divulging the client’s name, from "my client doesn’t want their name bandied about in the market” to "what if the candidate goes behind my back direct to the client?” Each time, I gently remind these recruiters that candidates have a right to know where their personal information is being sent and that, if they offer the level of professional service we expect, they should not have any concerns about the integrity of their clients or candidates.

At this point, it should be remembered that the recruiter is also obliged to offer their client a measure of confidentiality. In maintaining this balancing act, the recruiter is only required to divulge the name of the client to a candidate who they have shortlisted and wish to send to the client for consideration. Simply put, this means that the recruiter does not have to tell every candidate who applies to them who the client is, only those who they plan to represent at the specific client for the specific vacancy.

For too long, candidates have simply accepted that recruiters are "in charge” and whilst they do wield a great deal of power within the recruitment cycle, individuals should know their rights and be unafraid to stand up for them. After all, your reputation could be at stake if your chosen representative (recruiter) does a shoddy job.In an extreme case, a candidate of mine (when I still ran a recruitment desk) was horrified by recruiters and refused to even consider working with me. After many conversations and the promise of a simple "cup of coffee and no strings” I finally discovered the reason for his apprehension. It turned out that a recruiter, who shall remain nameless, had sent his CV – without his permission – to a client that was actually a division of his existing employer. Needless to say, he was hard-pressed to explain himself when his boss called him in to ask why he thought it necessary to put his CV on the market. A completely idiotic mistake that should never have happened, had the recruiter done her homework; but definitely wouldn’t have occurred if the candidate was told the name of the potential employer at the outset. He would quickly have advised the recruiter of the link between the two companies and his CV would never have been sent.

Contrary to popular belief, it is never a good idea to have your CV out all over the place, especially if you’re currently employed or have a skill set that is in high demand. Potential employers are likely to be wary of someone who appears to be uncalculated in their career development process. What would you think if you heard that the candidate you were considering had sent their CV to every company in the sector simultaneously? Wouldn’t you question their motives or their ability?

Hedging their bets

Some individuals, in their eagerness to secure employment with a particular company, choose to give permission to more than one recruiter to submit their application to the same position, believing that this gives them a better chance of securing the interview, and ultimately the job. Whether this is because they doubt the ability of the recruiter, or think that if their CV arrives from two different sources, the HR person will automatically short-list them believing them perfect for the job, I’ll never know for sure.

What I can say for sure is that the opposite is more likely to happen. In many engagements with HR practitioners, I have heard the same thing over and over, "if a CV arrives more than once, I’m likely to avoid the candidate, worrying about the possible fee dispute that could ensue between the two recruitment agencies” or "unless the candidate was a needle in a haystack, I’d probably not choose to interview to avoid any unnecessary arguments”.

In one particular instance, an HR practitioner told me the story of their epic struggle to find a specialised technician. They’d been looking for nearly 6 months when the perfect candidate turned up... eight times, through eight different agencies! Despite their need to fill the vacancy the HR committee took the decision not to consider the applicant because they were concerned at his lack of control, planning and decision-making in respect to engaging the services of a recruiter, qualities they believed were critical for the role they were trying to recruit,

Whilst it often happens that an individual’s CV arrives more than once because they were unaware of it being sent in the first place, this can be boiled down to two simple situations. One, an unscrupulous ‘recruiter’ has simply lifted the CV from a job portal and submitted it to the client without ever engaging with the individual, or two, one or both of the recruiters has failed to divulge the name of the client to the candidate during their usual recruitment process.This situation could simply be avoided by ensuring that each time you engage with a recruiter, you make it clear that you wish to have all of the information, including the name of the client, before you consider being submitted as an applicant for the role. At the end of the day, you are providing the recruiter with permission to represent you in the particular recruitment instance, and they are not permitted to send your personal details without your express permission.

Protect your reputation

Understanding your rights will lead to a more constructive recruitment process and should ensure that your reputation, within the sector you’ve chosen to work in, is maintained. Always choose to work with a recruiter, ideally one who belongs to a professional body like APSO, who is committed to building a long-term relationship with you that is characterised by trust, integrity, open communication channels and above all, honesty.

By choosing to deal with an APSO member company, you know that their recruiters are bound by the Code of Ethical & Professional Practice that clearly outlines the minimum service levels expected to be given to candidates. Included therein is the obligation to complete a thorough recruitment process, including a formal interview; to understand your career requirements; to ensure that your current employment is not jeopardised; to gain your express permission to represent you at a specific client for a specific vacancy; and not to charge you for any of these services. And, if you feel that you have not received the required service, you have the opportunity for recourse via the APSO Ethics process, at no cost to you.

For more information, and to see the full APSO Code, visit www.apso.co.za

Tags:  candidate rights  employer  employment opportunity  job details  jobs  recruiter 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

To be searchable, or not to be?

Posted By Natalie Singer, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

That is the question all candidates should be asking themselves as the online job search environment changes. In today’s online environment there are many ways to promote yourself if you’re seeking better career prospects, and for potential employers to seek you out. Some are obvious, such as job boards or perhaps your LinkedIn profile, but some, like your FaceBook page or where your weekend sports results were posted, are not.

Today, many candidates are unaware of the changing landscape in South Africa and the fact that many of the job boards, that traditionally only serviced recruitment agencies, are now making their service offering accessible to corporate employers, and this could have dire consequences for your confidentiality and job security.

But, before you panic, let’s assess the risks. There are most certainly pros and cons to being found easily in cyberspace, and it depends entirely on your current circumstances.

Flying below the radar

If you want to be in direct control of who has access to your CV, then you’d be better off not registering on any portals and simply watching the career sections of newspapers or websites for positions that catch your eye. You can then make a conscious decision to forward your CV for consideration. However, this can be extremely time-consuming and you may miss out on the perfect job simply because you didn’t see the advert on that particular day.

Pro:        You are the only person who has access to your CV until you choose to apply directly

Con:       You could miss out on the ideal job

Targeted selection

As a skilled candidate, you may wish to rather begin a relationship with a specialist recruiter who works within your niche sector. By registering with a particular agency, or perhaps two, you could benefit from their expertise and network of clients with the right kind of opportunities. You would take the time to register with the agency once and then liaise with them from time-to-time as your needs changed, or they had suitable opportunities to discuss with you. This form of relationship allows you to control where, and to whom, your CV is sent because a professional recruiter, especially one that is registered with APSO and adheres to the APSO Code of Ethical & Professional Practice, should always contact you to discuss any potential career move and get your express permission to send the CV to that specific client, for that specific role at that specific time.

Pro:       Your specialist consultant will be able to identify those opportunities that meet your specific skill set and requirements and market you effectively to the potential employer, including assisting you with the interview and offer stage.

Con:      You need to ensure that you’ve registered with the right recruiter who will be proactive in assisting you with your next career move otherwise you run the risk of missing out on other suitable opportunities. 

Leveraging your network

If you’re a social media fundi you may wish to leverage your own network when seeking better prospects. Keeping your job search solely to cyberspace associated with social networks can be risky as your network may not be big enough to uncover the right opportunity for you. Remember to manage your profiles carefully because social media is equally used to reference potential employees as it is to recruit them.

Pro:        You can control all engagements and work with people in your network.

Con:       Your profile/s may in fact cause potential employers to disregard you entirely.

Signing up to a job portal

For a long time, job portals in South Africa were only accessible to recruitment agencies and this meant that candidates could register and make themselves searchable confident that their details were not at risk of being found by their current employer or someone in their immediate network. However, several of the job boards, including some of the leading brands, have recently changed their service offering and now make it possible for their corporate clients to utilise the search functionality. Some portals provide candidates with the option to "opt in” or "opt out” from this extra layer of accessibility but it’s not always clearly laid out. As a result, candidates are recommended to investigate their rights and understand what they are signing up to, before simply assuming that their information will be handled only by recruitment agencies.

The job portals can be an excellent way to manage your career search as they provide resume creation services, direct online applications, application tracking and other tools. Many recruitment agencies, and increasingly corporate employers, are also making use of these portals so the number of job vacancies being posted is increasing. However, in light of the changes, we strongly recommend that candidates do their research and choose their job portal wisely, especially if they’re currently employed and don’t want to risk being discovered by their own boss.

Pro:        One stop shop with many vacancies and other useful career-seeking tools

Con:       You could end up with your details openly available and this may risk your current job.

All or nothing

If you’re currently unemployed or work as a freelancer or contractor, it may be in your interest to be as accessible as possible to anyone who is seeking your skill set – recruiters and employers alike. It makes sense in this case to register your CV on as many job portals as possible, including those that allow employers direct search access to the CV database. You should also invest in creating a detailed LinkedIn profile that clearly outlines your skill set and experience as this social media site is being used more and more often for recruitment purposes. Remember to always consider your online profile and consider limiting access to your FaceBook profile to friends and family – after all, seeing the "good time” you had on Tuesday night, is unlikely to be seen as an advantage by a potential employer.

Pro:       All potential opportunities are available to you.

Con:      You lose control of your personal information and there is always the potential for it to be used unethically or illegally. 

Whatever method you choose to use when seeking a step up in your career, remember to carefully weigh up your options. Remember too that your circumstances will change throughout your career, and what was suitable today may not be right for tomorrow. Maintain your online profiles, including registrations with recruitment agencies and job portals, to ensure that they’re up-to-date and have privacy settings that are appropriate for your current situation.

Tags:  candidate rights  CV  Facebook  job portal  job search  LinkedIn  networking  recruiter  reputation  social media  vacancies 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Natalie Singer answers questions on recession-proofing your career

Posted By APSO, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

In an interview for Fair Lady, Natalie Singer, APSO Chief Operating Officer, provided some advice to employees who were looking to recession-proof their careers.

Q: It’s often said that WHAT you know isn’t as important as WHO you know. Can fostering connections on, say, twitter, or ‘networking’ contribute to making your career more resilient? And can you give any suggestions how people can begin to network?

Personal relationships are imperative in all aspects of our lives and your career is no different. Many people find new opportunities via their network and it’s always a good idea to ensure that if you are looking for a new challenge to let people know, after all, you never know who in their extended network may be looking for someone with your skills and experience.

Networking today happens on all levels whether in person, via clubs and associations you may belong to, or via social media. Of course, the key to good networking is to remember that "actions speak louder than words” and so doing what you can to help other people in your network is always a good place to start. Truly successful networking relies on you offering assistance to others instead of simply asking for assistance yourself. 

Depending on your skill set or interest, establishing an online presence via a blog may also be a good way to get noticed. Sharing your knowledge and experience with others via this kind of platform could generate interest from people or organisations looking for someone like you. Think about your social media profiles as a full-time advert of who you are and what you stand for. As a result, consider carefully what you share online – pictures of your drunken Friday night out or an online argument with someone may jeopardise your chances.  If your profile is "public” remember that anyone can search your name to find you. Increasingly companies and recruiters are using these kinds of searches to check out potential employees. 

Q:Can being friendly, upbeat and personable affect your likelihood of being retrenched?

Retrenchments are usually about more than the individuals involved and relate to the organisations restricting requirements. However, if there are multiple people working within a department and only some need to be retrenched other factors may come under consideration when management determines who to retrench. More than being personable, management will look at who is most productive and adds value to the organisation. 

Given that we spend the majority of our day at work, it makes sense to do what you can to promote a harmonious environment via good relationships with your colleagues and offering assistance to other people if your own work has been completed. 

Q: How important is it to be proactive, and in what ways can employees be proactive to encourage continued employment?

Being proactive is very important. This means that you should continually look at opportunities to improve your knowledge and skill and to gain more experience. This can be through offering to take on additional duties, doing some after-hours studying, even if it’s just online research/reading, or determining what you need to do to be considered for a promotion internally. People are naturally drawn to people who are positive, optimistic and proactive so focus on looking on the bright side and finding solutions rather than always finding problems.

Q: In what ways can we positively distinguish ourselves from our colleagues?

The most important thing is to ensure that you do whatever is expected of you, every time. Of course, the old cliché of "going the extra mile” also holds true. When doing your job, focus on doing it right first time and look at ways to improve; this could mean increased service to customers, cutting costs or determining a more effective way to get things done faster. Management will always pay attention to individuals who have good time management, meet their deadlines, produce quality work, are a team player and who are willing to get stuck in with whatever needs doing .

Q: How important is it to up-skill, & why?

The world is changing rapidly. This is especially true when it comes to technology. It is very important to ensure that you’re up-to-date with information and skills relevant to your job. For example, make it your mission to learn more about the computer packages you use every day. For example if you can only use basic Excel, why not spend some time learning how to take it further, like creating graphs and developing macros? Being up-to-date doesn’t only relate to practical skills.

Knowing what is happening in the world at large is important too. Make sure that you read the newspaper, or at least watch the news, every day. Pay attention to local and world events, especially those that could impact your industry. Subscribe to online newsletters or magazines for your industry/sector so that you can stay abreast of the latest developments. Your boss will definitely notice if you’re able to converse intelligently about business, even if you’re only a junior or in an administrative role.

Q: Can it be beneficial to offer to take a pay-cut?

If an organisation is struggling to stay afloat, they may be willing to consider a pay-cut rather than retrenchment. If the company is willing to go this route then it would be up to the individual to determine whether they feel remaining in the position for a lesser salary was better than accepting a retrenchment package and securing employment elsewhere. It may be best for the individual to do some research before making this decision as their skill set and experience would determine how likely it would be for them to secure alternate employment. Research could be conducted by looking at jobs advertised via online job portals or by contacting some industry-specific recruitment companies to ask for advice on their marketability.

Q: Is there any other advice you can offer?

I would like to give some advice to people who may be retrenched and who are looking for alternative employment. When looking for alternative employment there are a few things that you can do to improve your chances, including:

Quality CV

Your CV is your advertising platform and needs to be perfect. Ensure that you spell check and get a second pair of eyes to look over it as spelling mistakes, missing information or poor layout will create a poor impression of you. Remember to include only information relevant to your job and keep it as concise as possible. Ensure that you have multiple forms of contact information because if the potential employer/recruiter doesn’t get hold of you the first time, they’re not likely to keep trying if they have many other applicants to consider.

Nothing but the truth

Resist the temptation to lie or "expand” your CV. You will be found out. Consider how best to highlight your specific skills and experience, relevant to the job you’re applying for, so that a potential employer/recruiter can easily see why you’d be a good person to consider.

Be realistic

We all wish for a job that pays a lot and requires us to work a little. In tough economic times it may be necessary for you to consider a lesser salary than the one you earned before you were retrenched, particularly if you’d been with your previous company for a long time. Heed the advice of recruiters who understand the market. Remember too that it is in their interest to secure the best possible package as their commission is directly linked to your offer of employment.

Work with professional recruiters

Unfortunately there are scam artists out there who take advantage of desperate job seekers. Don’t fall prey to these scams. It is illegal in South Africa to charge applicants to register with an employment agency or to secure employment. Recruiters earn their money by charging a recruitment fee to the employer. If in doubt, rather choose to work with an APSO member agency that has been vetted against current legislative compliance requirements and who is held accountable to a Code of Ethics & Best Practice. For a comprehensive list of our members, from across South Africa, simply visit www.apso.co.za 

Tags:  attitude  career  CV  employers want  honesty  job search  recession  recruiter  remuneration  retrenchment  salary  skills 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 

Dress for the job you want, not the one you have

Posted By Natalie Singer, 06 June 2013
Updated: 06 June 2013

"Always be well-dressed…even when begging” Hindu Proverb

Professional dress can be a bridge or a barrier to clients, customers and interviewers. If they don’t like the messenger, they’re not going to get the message. Communicating professionalism through dress is important, particularly when being interviewed for a senior or skilled role. 

Who makes the rules about business dress code? 

Most people agree that what you wear to an interview matters, but how do you decide what is appropriate? Most of today’s job seekers, particularly Generation Y, believe that it shouldn’t matter what you wear, so long as you can deliver the goods, but considering they’re likely to be interviewed by a Baby Boomer who still believes strongly in corporate dress codes, this is not the case.

Your choice of dress should be guided by the kind of job you’re interviewing for, and the corporate culture of the organisation. Generally, a more corporate office will have a higher expectation for professional dress and certain professions, like legal and finance, tend to be suit and tie environments. An artistic role, like graphic designer, PR consultant or advertising executive would expect an element of creativity and boldness. Wearing a dull suit with no personality will likely cost you the job if this is the environment you’re interviewing for. 

Wearing what an organisation expects you to wear, including to the interview, shows them that you’ve made a conscious decision to be part of the team. If the interviewer can look at you and "see” you sitting behind the desk for the role they’re recruiting, you’re halfway there.

What about personality? 

For many individuals, the thought of wearing a uniform to work, whether official or unofficial, is off-putting. I mean, who wants to look just like everyone else, and how boring to wear the same thing day in and day out.  Just because there is an expectation for a certain look, doesn’t mean that you can’t allow your choice of outfit to reflect your personality.

A successful dresser finds a distinctive way of dressing that is appropriate for what they do and is a true reflection of their personality. A feminine woman could add a touch of the romantic by choosing a ruffled blouse in a soft pale pink fabric to wear under a traditional dark business suit, or an outgoing man might opt for a bright red tie to show off his bold personality.

The Power of Colour

Using colour does not only help your personality shine through; colour psychology can give you the edge when attending an interview or an important business meeting. Whether we are conscious about it or not, the colours we choose for our business attire sends a strong message. The image you project with a beige suit is very different from the way you’d look in a navy suit, for example.

 There are a few simple "golden rules” to consider when choosing a business outfit, based on colour:

  • The darker the colour, the more powerful the "look”
  • Monochromatic colours, like different shades of grey or brown, look sophisticated.
  • Bright colours are less formal. You’re likely to be taken more seriously if you avoid colours such as yellow or orange in the business environment

True Blue

Studies show that navy blue is the best colour to wear to a job interview, because it inspires confidence. Have you ever noticed how many companies use blue in their logo? Blue inspires confidence, trust and security and it’s no wonder that banks and insurance firms tend to opt for this colour in their corporate branding.

Yeah, Grey

Grey is associated with neutrality, respectability and reliability. It works well across all tones but should be paired with a small injection of another colour to make it more interesting. Grey is less authoritarian than black and is especially good for negotiation including during job interviews. 

Beware Red

Red is a powerful colour that demands attention. It works well if you’re giving a speech but not as well if you’re aiming to be seen as a team player. Depending on the perception of an individual, red can be seen positively – as a sign of confidence – or negatively, as aggressive or overbearing. It is not a good choice for an interview, except if used sparingly as an accent colour, because you cannot be sure how it will be perceived by the interviewer.

Green for Girls

Although green is proven to be the easiest colour for the eyes to process, when we think of green we think of nature, tranquility and relaxation. Green indicates informality, predictability and even laziness. Green should be used sparingly in the business space and usually only by women. The deeper greens, when used in a well-cut garment, are acceptable for business wear for women but should be avoided by men unless they’re dressing down. 

Boring Brown

Brown implies dependability, conservativeness and dislike for pretension. As a neutral colour, brown is a good alternative to black, navy and grey but should be accompanied by lighter, more eye-catching colours to lift it. Rich, warm browns are unthreatening and will help people to feel comfortable around you but beware of using them at functions or events where you’re likely to literally disappear into the woodwork.

10 rules for successful dressing

Think about these ten things when dressing for an interview, or important meeting.

Rule 1: Colour

Choose a maximum of 3 colours only and ensure that one of them is neutral.

Rule 2: Line and Shape

Select clothes that have clean, uncluttered lines and simple shapes for a strong, professional impact.

Rule 3: Detail

Use detail as a focal point. If you choose a pair of bold earrings or bright tie, ensure that the rest of your outfit is understated. Don’t risk garnering the interviewer’s attention for all the wrong reasons!

Rule 4: Pattern

Avoid mixing matters in a single outfit. Choose a single pattered garment and pair it with block colour.

Rule 5: Texture

Consciously combining textures helps to create interest. Pair shiny satin with a dull matt finish of wool, for example.

Rule 6: Balance

Know your body and balance any "out of proportion” area by adding visual detail where necessary. Balance wide hips with a top with shoulder interest, or use a solid dark colour on the bottom and a bright, interesting necklace to draw the eye up.

Rule 7: Proportion

Remember that unequal proportions are visually more dynamic. Think about the size and placement of bold patterns, large jewelry or hair accessories to get this right.

Rule 8: Harmony

Select individual garments for an outfit that connect with each other by picking up a common element of colour, line, shape or texture. 

Rule 9: Contrast

High contrast colours, like red and black project authority. Medium contrast cool blends, like blue grey suggest sophistication and low contrast warm tones like rust with cinnamon suggest approachability.

Rule 10: Emphasis

Use accessories to emphasize your ‘style and personality’ either to add a twist to classic business dress or emphasize attractive features, for example bold framed glasses to highlight eyes.

Don’t blow it by forgetting instant image breakers

It doesn’t matter if you’ve chosen an outfit that "fits” all the rules, if you forget to avoid these instant image breakers. Image breakers can be grouped into dress style, clothes maintenance, and personal habits and grooming. The most common turn-offs reported by interviewers include overpowering fragrance, careless shave, unpolished shoes, bad breath, laddered stockings, strange body odour, chipped nail polish, dandruff on collar, shoe heels in need of repair and scruffy hairstyles.

Personal hygiene and grooming are non-negotiable in any business setting but more so in an interview situation where all eyes, and attention, is focused on you. 

Plan your interview outfit and get it ready at least the day before you are scheduled to attend the interview. The last thing you want to have happen a few minutes before you need to leave the house is to realize that your trousers don’t fit anymore, a button’s missing off your shirt or your forgot about the coffee stain dribbled down your front.

Get a second opinion.  Ask someone you trust to give you honest feedback about your planned interview outfit. Let them give you frank, but constructive, advice on what the outfit says about you. Does it portray the image that you intend?

Remember that above all, you need to feel professional and confident in the outfit if you wish to make a good impression.

Tags:  accessories  clothing  colour  confidence  dress code  employer  interview  job search  personality  planning  recruiter  style 

Share |
PermalinkComments (0)
 
Membership Software  ::  Legal