Things to do or avoid whilst on a Job Search

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Things to Do whiles on a Job search.

The transition period between finishing school and embarking on job search can be one of the most boring and wasted period in every graduate’s life if not carefully planned. This should not be the case. Though Job search can be a full time job in itself, with its  attendant frustrations and stress, this period  can also be an opportunity that can greatly be utilized to improve yourself and acquire the skills and knowledge you could not get during your busy schooling days. In fact if well planned, you could actually take yourself out of a job search and create employment. Here are things you can do to improve yourself when you are still job searching.

1. Develop your hobby: Most of us take formal education too seriously. The pride of every Ghanaian parent is to see their children graduate from a tertiary institution and get inducted into the “suit and tie fraternity”. Whiles education in itself isn’t a bad thing, not everyone is cut out for the higher glory that our parents envision. We all have inborn talents and skills that can earn us a decent income if properly honed. So whilst you’re still on a job search, don’t forget your God given talent. Put on your athletics spikes, polish those keyboard skill, join a local soccer team, get some fabrics and start designing your dream futuristic clothing line. Whatever your hobby or passion is, dedicate hours every week to indulge in it. Who knows, you could represent Ghana in the next Olympic Games. You may even break doors and open up new job avenues for yourself by just following what you were naturally wired to do.

2. Start a Business: I know the mention of the word “Business” will most likely be met with the usual hue and cry about the existence of the “no money syndrome”. The quickest way you could start becoming your own boss is to take on freelance work online and sell your skills. Some of the online freelance sites you could register for free are Odesk, Freelancer, PeoplePerHour. The good thing is, you’re paid in US Dollars!! You don’t need to be an expert in any field to work as a freelancer online. For example, If you like writing, you can register as a content writer. If you’re a creative’s person, you can register as a graphic designer. The internet is a vast ocean with all manner of people requiring almost every kind of skill imaginable. Funny as it may sound, there are actually people willing to pay others to do things like audio transcription, or give instructions on how to install a software. Truth is, it can become frustrating getting your first client because there’s massive competition from countries like India, Pakistan, Singapore etc. Keep applying and polishing your skills. Remember, you can always learn whatever you want to from google and YouTube. Once you land your first client and get a good ratings, you’ve literally gamed the system.

3. Build your personal brand: Free time on your hands during the job search period means that you can make use of the internet, social media and online blogs to build up your personal brand. Create a personal blog and pour your knowledge in there. Be known for what you do. By constantly writing and sharing articles about a certain field or specialization, you get noticed on social media and people will start reaching out to you for your opinion. A lot of media companies; TV, Radio and Online news sites are hungry for information and are constantly scouting the internet for fresh unique content. You will get found online, you will become an authority in your field, your blog will become the go-to place for information in your field, and you can become an online superstar within a short period of time. Building an online brand also means you have to be circumspect in what you put out there. Don’t engage in petty political online scuffles. Don’t engage in explicit obscene topics, unless of course, that’s what you want to build your brand around. The general rule of thumb is, do what you love, have fun and be consistent.

4. Take Online Courses: Instead of sleeping whole day and complaining about the unfair job market, take the opportunity to deepen your knowledge and learn more skills. The world is moving so fast, to the extent that the courses that are being taught at the universities in this part of the world, are outmoded and cannot get you real world skills. We’re on the transition to the 4th Industrial revolution, the era of cyber-physical systems. This era will fundamentally disrupt the way we work, live and relate to others. Some skillset will die out in the next 10 years. Already machines are handling customer service jobs in some companies. Sales job will become outmoded as virtual reality becomes mainstream and people purchase stuff in the virtual realm. Hiring manager will eventually become obsolete because Artificial intelligence systems can scout the internet and do due diligence on candidates.

According to the World Economic Forum, the 10 most sought after skills in 2020 will be:

  • Complex Problem Solving
  • Coordinating with others
  • People Management
  • Critical Thinking
  • Negotiation
  • Quality Control
  • Service Orientation
  • Judgement and Decision Making
  • Active Listening
  • Creativity

Having these pointers in mind, go out and take free online courses that will polish your skills and knowledge in at least, five of these areas. Websites that offer free online study include ALISON, Coursera, Udemy, Code Academy.

5. Apply for Scholarships to further your education: This may look like a default, but some people actually never consider it. If you’re finding a hard time getting a job, why not take the opportunity to upgrade yourself further? Get a Masters or a PhD. At least your time is not wasted. China is currently offering a lot of scholarships to Africans to study in China and learn their language. This is a fantastic opportunity. Chinese companies are exploding into Africa at an alarming rate. Imagine returning from China with competency in Mandarin. Prospects of getting a highly paid job with a Chinese multinational is very high. Best case scenario, you can easily establish your own Ghana-China Desk and help businesses with your services. We have compiled a list of 40 scholarship opportunities on this blog. 

6. Attend Free Seminars/Workshops: Trust me, there is good free food and cocktails at some of these seminars so take advantage and broaden your food chest. On a more serious note, apart networking with influential people who can get your foot in the door for a job, you also get access to rare industry knowledge and resources that can change your career.

7. Volunteer: There is no better way to use your time than to serve your community and underprivileged. Take a month long leave to your village and mentor kids about choosing the right professions and building career paths. Donate blood, engage in sanitation campaigns, teach kids for free, engage in HIV campaigns. At the end of the day you don’t know where your luck will shine. Even if you don’t get any personal benefits out of it, the inner satisfaction of being a responsible citizen and serving your community selflessly will not only earn the respect and pride of your parents and siblings, but your community and those under privileged whom you served will forever have you in their heart.

Things to avoid whiles on Job Search.

1. A messy social media presence. First of, if you’re using any funny crazy nickname on Facebook or LinkedIn, hurry on right now and go change it. This can hurt your chances of a successful job search. There is actually research done to prove that, increasingly hiring managers are relying on social media to make hiring decisions. Once you completed school, you’re deemed an adult and must behave as such. Don’t go clicking on porn links and inadvertently reposting them on your time line. If you see any link that shows obscene pictures, don’t allow your curiosity to take the better part of you. Don’t post pictures of your binge drinking or cozy postures with girls/boys at the club. Clean up. Post motivational messages, engage in sane conversations. Show your social skills without getting intrusive and engaging in unnecessary keyboard battles with people you barely know.

According to the 2015 CareerBuilder nationwide survey, the biggest turnoffs for potential employers are:

  • Candidate posted provocative or inappropriate photos or information.
  • Sites had information about candidate’s drinking or drug use.
  • Candidate bad-mouthed a previous employer.
  • Candidate had poor communication skills.
  • Candidate made discriminatory comments related to race, gender or religion.

2. Binge drinking and smoking: Stop scavenging around attending every party you can. This is the time to focus on your job search. Not that you should avoid parties and drinks entirely. Infact if you can do that, so much the better. Just don’t make it a habit of using your free time as an opportunity to chase free drinks and move from one drinking spot to another getting wasted. Your potential employer could be staying right in your hood and your irresponsible behavior can cost you your dream job. The point is that, once you get the right job with a good salary, you can always indulge in as much pleasures of life as you want. However, whiles still struggling to get a footing on your career and life, you don’t waste precious time on activities that hurt both your health and social image.

3. Dressing like a pimp or prostitute: The days of buggy drawn-down trousers or those scanty clothes that barely cover your tits and private part are over. Start dressing like a responsible adult. There is reason why the expression “First impression counts” is one of the most popular expressions. Which hiring manager will take you seriously when you knock at the door to submit your application letter and all he/she can see is a Beta version of a sex worker? For ladies, your dress must cover down to your knee level, and your top should completely cover your cleavage, and your navel. Your waist line must not show. Don’t put on a skirt that squeezes your bottom to the extent you can literally hear them screaming for freedom. For guys, your buggy jeans and sleeveless top is making you look like a pimp, or a weed smoker! That’s the truth! Wear your size of trousers, don’t wear your shirt more than once because it will stink. Most importantly, use deodorant. Infact this point about deodorant use must be taken seriously. The fact that you can’t smell yourself doesn’t mean you’re not stinking like rotten fish.

4.  Making pidgin language your first language. This point particularly applies to guys even though increasingly have ladies are falling victim to the trend. There is nothing wrong with speaking pidging with some friends or making a conversion with the trotro mate. However, guys have lately turned pidgin language into their lingua franca. The danger of getting too accustomed to pidgin language is that, it depreciates the quality of your oral English overtime, and subconsciously finds its way into your written language. A lot of us have gotten used to short-hand on mobile and this is creeping into formal written language. There is a story of a gentleman who went for an interview and in the course of the interview, he wanted to prompt the interview to repeat a certain question. Instead of saying “pardon me sir I did not hear your question well”, this gentle rather said “Sir, you say weitin?”

5. Keeping Visible tattoos, piercings and crazy-rasta hair-do. First of, know that there are cultural differences between us Africans, and the westerners. Don’t believe everything you watch in Hollywood movies because, they’re simply movies. Moreover, we are just culturally different and what is acceptable over there, is so not so cool here. 99% of the time you will be denied a job if you attend an interview with piercings in your nose, tonge or ears (in the case of men). The simple reason is this; those body art and accessories are associated with certain stereotypes in society. For example, assuming you find yourself in a crime scene and you’re the only person wearing Rasta hair or covered in tattoos! The Police will whisk you away within the blink of an eye. It’s the same for an interview room. You immediately become the most unqualified person once you appear with these things on. If you find it absolutely necessary to put on these things, then have them in places you can cover up. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. Certain professions may actually not find any problem with these. Basically the entertainment industry is an exception to this rule if you aspire being a movie actor or musician. It may actually work in your favour if you can uniquely brand yourself using tattoos or piecing. The caution is with corporate jobs. Just don’t try it.

However, there are certain exceptions to this rule. The entertainment or creative arts industries, by their very nature actually embrace creativity, differentiation and unique personal branding. Unless you want to join this industry, do not take the chances. Our corporate world is still very conservative and not open to certain lifestyles.

Job search can be energy draining. Don’t lose hope. Keep the above points in mind. Every good thing takes time and effort.

Have any questions to ask? See you in the comments section.

Billings Tanna