So let us say you are doing all you can to find that job. You are hitting the road on a regular basis. You are boldly knocking on doors and marketing yourself. What else can you do to get ahead of the other 48 potential applicants and land an interview, and increase your chances of getting the job?
1. Acquire Useful Transferable Skills. Every job under the sun requires skills that fall in three categories – technical skills, transferable or functional skills (soft skills) and personal attitudes. To succeed, you will need to have all three.
Technical skills are knowledge-based. Think of specific information and/or techniques necessary to perform job tasks. They are acquired through education, training and/or on-the-job experience. Hopefully, you have already checked that box.
Personal traits and attitudes speak to one’s character and personality characteristics that are desirable in performing work related tasks -Independent; honest; trustworthy; results-oriented. Another check.
Transferable/functional skills are ability and aptitude based. You can acquire this skill-set even without gainful employment. Think of these examples: ability to organize; ability to coordinate teams; good communication skills; good writing skills. Stock up on your transferable/functional skills portfolio by volunteering. Since they are transferable, it matters little where you acquire them. NGOs and non-profits are always organizing events for community outreach. Check to see if NGOs near you are looking for volunteers. Your local church Parish may be organizing a retreat for the youth. Is your neighbourhood organizing a Christmas party? Volunteer to coordinate various teams.
Volunteering will get you more than the transferable skills. It is also a great opportunity to do good by giving back to the community and of meeting people who might be of great help in your job search or in other ways. You will be killing three birds with a single stone!
2. Build Your Networks. Someday you will have the opportunity to network over a round of golf (someone say Amen!). Just because you do not have a professional affiliation today does not mean networking is out of your league. In its simplest form, networking is about having opportunities to interact and to build relationships. Look out for events that attract wide range of participants, public lectures, talks, exhibitions, etc. Show up. Engage with people. Get interested in what people do. Be curious. You will challenge your interpersonal and communication skills, and who knows, get inspiration to look in areas you would never have considered. As my mother would say Andũ nĩ indo (People are wealth – sorry, translation doesn’t do any justice here)
3. Expound Your Knowledge. Read, read and read some more. What changes are happening as we talk in your area of training? Nearly every field changes so fast, it is a challenge to keep up. Well, all fields except tooth extraction – we have to live with the pliers for that one! Research on current treads. Read on other topics outside the scope of your training and area of interest. Keep abreast of current affairs (other than politics). Being a well-rounded knowledgeable person makes it easier to network.
4. Tweak your CV or Résumé. I come from the era when CVs included these fields: Name, Date of Birth, Marital Status, No. of Children, Religion… Yes, that is like the Dinosaur era! Research on what is current in terms of format. Some professions allow, even call for non-traditional formats. Have you seen CVs for people in graphic designs? Makes me wonder where I went wrong!
And while we are still tweaking the CV, consider having an email address that is somehow related to your name. If your name is Joseph Kiwanuka but your email address is email@example.com, you may have a problem. Put yourself in the position of the recruiter who has to deal with 78 applications. Which email would you take more seriously – one from badboyyzz505 or one from JosephK@gmail.com? I rest my case.
One last thought on updating your CV. Check to see that the referees/references are current. The last thing you want is a potential employer to be told by that lady that the number is out of service.
P.S. Need help tweaking your CV/ Résumé? Let me know. I would be glad to help!3