Updated 18 February 2013

10 tips on finding a job

Times are hard, retrenchments are rife and companies are not queueing up to employ recently qualified matriculants, or graduates, for that matter.


Times are hard, retrenchments are rife and companies are not queueing up to employ recently qualified matriculants, or graduates, for that matter.

Few things are more stressful than being unemployed. And as we know, stress brings its own physical ailments with it: a propensity to drug and alcohol abuse, blood pressure and sleeping problems, unhealthy eating habits, possible depression and a tendency to be inactive.

Finding a job is not only essential for your physical health, but also for your emotional well-being and financial health.

So what do you do if you suddenly find your accounts piling up and there is no job to go to? All is not lost – there is much that you can do.

Let everyone know. Put the word out that you are looking for a job – tell all your friends, your parents' friends, teachers, people at the church and the sports club. Tell people you're prepared to do anything – many an unromantic part-time job that was well done, has led to greater things.

Be on the lookout. Lying in front of the TV moping is not going to get you anywhere – what are you waiting for? The perfect job to come knocking on your door? Check the newspapers regularly, scout the noticeboards at the community centre, listen to the radio. In short, be alert for any opportunity.

Lower your expectations. Many newly graduated people especially have grand ideas of what they would like to do and what they won't do. Fact is, the market is saturated and employers can pick and choose between myriads of applicants with decades of experience. Be prepared to do anything – if you work well, it will provide you with an entry point into a field of work and you can then work your way up. But you need to get in first. Also be modest in your salary expectations – unrealistic demands could lose you an opportunity.

Choose a field. If you want to work in retail management, take any job you can find in that particular environment, and work your way up. If it means starting on the shop floor as a sales assistant, see it as experience you're notching up. Don't get stuck in a dead end job in a field in which you have no interest. Dead end jobs are fine for a while if you need the money to pay the rent, but don't get stuck there.

Offer your services for free. This one has been known to work over and over again. Choose a company you would really like to work for, make an appointment and offer to work for them free of charge for three months. Make yourself indispensable and be a willing workhorse – if anything comes up, chances are you will be first and foremost in their minds as a possible candidate.

Update your CV. Make sure your CV is up to date – if a job possibility suddenly appears out of the blue, you want to be able to produce a CV within half an hour. Waiting two days, while you put together a CV, might just cost you a job.

Get marketable skills. If your skills are not very marketable – after all, how many job opportunities are there for graduates in anthropology or sociology? – equip yourself with marketable skills. Do a computer course, do a secretarial course – do whatever it takes.

Start your own business. Rather than wait around for a job to appear, create your own. Figure out what is needed in your community – this could be from car washing to babysitting to teaching extra lessons – and do something about it. This need not cost you a fortune to set up – your biggest expense will probably be a cell phone and a pay-as-you go contract.

Do all work as well as you can. Whatever you are given to do, whether it is selling samoosas at the bazaar or looking after kids during church services, do it as well as you can. If you are enthusiastic and make an effort, someone is sure to notice sooner or later.

Be friendly, willing and presentable. If you get an interview, take out the tongue ring – keep in mind who is the one with most to lose here. The interviewer owes you nothing. Don't be a Moaning Minnie – no one wants to work with someone who complains about everything. To get the job, you often have to look the part – accept it. – (Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated July 2010)

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