Here are 7 things you can start doing today that will make your more employable once you graduate and enter a highly competitive marketplace.
It’s the conundrum that all students face: To land a great job it helps to have a track record, but in order to build a great track record you need a good job. Here’s how you can start building your profile before you secure your first job – and increase your chances of securing that dream position in the process:
Sell your skills online
Some of the world’s most successful teenagers, from across the globe, are proving that we all have skills that we can offer online.
If you have a reliable Internet connection and a computer, you can list your skills on a host of online gig economy websites, including Fiverr and Upwork. If you have specialised knowledge that your peers do not, you can also start a Youtube channel sharing your insights.
Volunteer your time
There are hundreds (if not thousands) of NGOs, churches and local community organisations that could benefit from the donation of your time.
When you start volunteering for a cause that’s close to your heart, you’re showing prospective employers your values and your ability to take on a responsibility.
You’ll also benefit from the work experience and working in a team, and be able to ask for endorsements and references that you would normally only be able to obtain from an employer.
Ask your network for endorsements
When you apply for a job – even if it’s an unpaid volunteering position or internship – you want to highlight who you are, your character and your values.
Including letters of recommendation in your CV from your school, teachers, college or university professors and part-time employers is an excellent way to provide social proof that you are who you say you are.
In a digitally transformed world, you have more access to free and inexpensive courses than ever before. From quick learning offered by platforms such as Udemy, to university-level training offered by platforms such as Coursera, that offers many courses for free, you can make use of any spare time you have to enhance your skills.
Consider your current qualifications, where your gaps lie and how you could enhance your skills with additional courses to become more attractive to an employer.
You will also be demonstrating to any prospective employers that you are interested in self-development and will continue to improve your knowledge and skills as an employee.
Ensure you are digitally literate
No matter what industry you are interested in or what your field of expertise is, digital skills are a must-have. If you want to enhance your career in today’s tech-driven world, you not only need to know how to use a computer and the Internet, but how digital solutions are shaping everything in our lives, from how we communicate to how we do business.
The problem is that 80% of South Africans are still not digitally literate – which gives you a huge advantage over your peers.
Standard Bank has partnered with Microsoft and Pioneering Solutions Studio to offer free online digital literacy training to all South Africans. Learners have free access to the Microsoft Digital Literacy course and receive a Microsoft certificate when they successfully complete the programme.
Present yourself like a professional
You might be fresh out of varsity, but if you want to land a job you need to act the part. Consider it from an employer’s perspective. Are they more likely to read a CV that is clear and to the point, or one that is messy and difficult to understand? What about how you present yourself in an interview? What do you think will look more professional, arriving in a collared shirt and slacks, or jeans and sneakers?
Remember, how we present ourselves is unconsciously sending signals about or skills and expertise, so you want to put your best foot forward. This includes how you respond to emails and text messages. Sloppy writing with spelling errors and abbreviations does not impress.
Display a ‘can do’ attitude
Many employers today hire based on attitude and train for skill. Yes, depending on the position a degree might be important, but if a company has the choice between two candidates with similar skills, the candidate who displays a positive attitude and strong work ethic will get the job.
Most employers today realise that it’s very difficult to change someone’s attitude, but you can help them to improve their skills. Even more important, positive people tend to be the employees who want to increase their skills anyway.
Practice thinking about things in a positive light and focusing on how you can add value to any and every situation, and you’ll start developing a winning mindset that is valuable to every employer.