The Jamaican job market, like most other countries, is as tight due to several economic challenges. This makes the difficult task of landing a job even harder as employers cherry pick who they contact for interviews and get even more selective when choosing the right man, or woman, for the job. Give yourself the best chance possible with diGJamaica’s Jobseeker's Guide.
One of the most important components of the job search process is having a perfect resume. Anything less than perfect is not acceptable. Here is one area over which you have full control. You can't afford not to do your best.
Have an objective. Make sure that you have a clear job search objective prior to writing the resume. Structure the content of your resume around that objective but do not include it on the resume unless it adds to the company's bottomline.
Be concise and selective. Include only the most relevant experiences and omit personal or sensitive information. Do not give prospective employers information with which to discriminate against you. There is no need to include your height, weight, health and marital status or religion.
Make a good first impression. Ideally, a resume should be one page, but if it can't be, the most important issues must be on page one.
Market yourself. Think of yourself as a product, potential employers as your customers, and your resume as a brochure about you. Market yourself through your resume. What are your features and benefits? What makes you unique? Make sure to convey this information in your resume.
Resumes get interviews, not jobs. Use your resume to obtain an interview, not a job. The purpose of your resume is to generate enough interest to have an employer contact you for an interview. Use the interview to provide a more detailed explanation of your accomplishments and to land a job offer.
List your skills. Most people underestimate their skills and often leave out their various people skills. You need to convince the prospective employer of all the great things you can do for them. Any level of competence in a foreign language and computer skills should be included.
Achievements. The best prediction of what you will do tomorrow is what you did yesterday. Page one should also have a list of all your achievements that may be relevant to the job for which you are applying. If you have little or no work experience, share your school, volunteer and extracurricular activities.
References by request. Do not include references on your resume unless they are specifically requested. State "References Available Upon Request". You can take a typed, complete list of 2-4 references with you to any interview (name, title, organisation, relationship, street address, email address and telephone number). Be sure to call the referee to refresh his or her mind before the prospective employer calls. Most employers require that at least one of your references be a past employer or supervisor. If this is your first sojourn into the working world, past teachers and instructors will suffice.
Contact. Your resume should have your full name as well as your address, contact home numbers and or your e-mail address. All of these contacts must be in working order and your email should be active in case your employer chooses this form of communication.
Presentation. Make sure you present your TYPED resume in the proper envelope with the company’s correct address.
Use proper English. Your resume should be clear of all grammatical errors. All sentences should be properly constructed. The layout should be as attractive as possible without detracting from its purpose.
Need a sample resume? Click here
THE COVER LETTER
The cover letter is your first marketing tool. A good one will get you through the door for that job you need. There are a few rules to follow to make sure your cover letter, like your resume, resonates with the employer.
- Do not send off your letter without the name and address of the sender (that's you) as well as that of the company to which it is being sent.
- The letter should also have the name of the person in the company instead just "dear sir/madam". This is more personalised and less likely to be placed in file 13 along with the hundreds of others that the company may well receive. If you don’t know, call to find out.
- The cover letter should not be an epistle. Three or four short paragraphs should do. In your first paragraph state what the letter is about. In the second introduce yourself (I am a graduate of X institution). In the third, state how you think the company may benefit from employing you. Finally, say that your resume is enclosed and say that you are looking forward to an interview.
As you plan your job search and your career path, you also need a means of analysing and planning the best way forward and identifying your own personal career development requirements. Well, the best way to keep track of all these things is by using a career portfolio. Learn how to make one: Show and tell – Beat the odds with a career portfolio
Many job seekers fail to keep track of the applications that they send out, but follow up is also an important step. Here are some helpful tips.
- The easiest way to follow up on an application is to call the company and ask them about the status of your application. Many people have difficulty using the telephone particularly when they're not in control of the situation and/or calling a stranger. Despite these feelings, the telephone should become your most effective tool so you must try hard to develop a positive attitude towards using it.
- Practice exactly what you are to say to the person and how you are going to say it. Smile while you talk, this takes the edge off your nerves and softens your voice.
- Call from a quiet place that's free of distractions.
- Determine what you are calling for. Do you want to know if your application has reached the relevant parties, have interviews started yet or if you have already been interviewed, has the position been filled so you can know whether to scratch that option off your list.
- If the company’s modus operandi is centered on the internet and email, there is no harm in sending a follow up email, just remember that the formalities that maintain in a regular business letter, especially the use of proper grammar, spelling and tone, apply here as well.
Follow up is extremely important as you may think that you have been successful after a good interview, only to wait indefinitely for an offer. It’s better to know where you stand so you can plan your next move.