Job seeking in Zambia is tough but there is still a great deal that graduates can do to boost their chances of finding employment. In the latest careers article from Go Zambia Jobs we explore 5 things that graduates should know before starting their job search.
1. There are opportunities for graduates in Zambia
Some graduates in Zambia feel isolated, angry and without hope – even before they have begun to look for employment. Instead of focusing on negatives, why not try to look at the positive press surrounding the Zambian economy and the growing need for highly educated workers? Start by giving the industry you would like to work in a health check. Try to look for sectors that are growing and will continue to grow in the future. If you cannot find an opportunity then try to make one – the economy needs young entrepreneurs who can take advantage of the opportunities available, especially those that can use technology to improve the way things are done.
2. All experience is good experience
Spent the summer helping a family member sell fruit? You were part of a small business, responsible for sales, marketing, finance and customer service. Worked part-time in a fast-food restaurant? You worked as part of a dynamic team, providing excellent customer service and learning about food industry with emphasis on retail. However poor you think your experience was it is probably of great value to an employer. The same goes for any research projects or activities that you may have been involved with whilst studying. The key when job seeking is to try and take the positives from all your experiences and make them sound relevant for the job you’re applying for. Try and see your experiences through the eyes of an employer. What challenges did you face and how did you overcome them? What skills did you develop? This is great for applications and interviews.
3. The perfect CV is a myth
There is no such thing as a perfect CV – however, you can improve your chances of obtaining an interview by ensuring that your CV is clear and concise and clearly demonstrates your suitability for the role. If your application meets these 3 things it will get noticed. If you are sending out the same cover letter and CV for a 100 jobs then you going to struggle. There is nothing worse for an employer than receiving a CV or application where no effort has gone in. These are usually ignored straightaway. Instead use your time to demonstrate how you meet the requirements for the role – if you don’t another applicant will.
4. Small can be beautiful
Many graduates make the mistake of only applying to large. There are 1000’s small and medium sized companies desperate to hire bright young graduates, however they may not advertise in the obvious places as it can be expensive. In fact, some may not even know themselves that they need the help of a bright young graduate. In these cases you can try doing some detective work and track down smaller companies in your sector. There are literally 1000’s of companies listed in directories such as www.zambiayp.com so do some research and see what opportunities you can create.
5. If it’s not working, it’s time to stop doing it
One of the biggest mistakes a graduate can make is repeating one job-hunting strategy again and again before saying, “I’ve applied for 5,000 jobs and heard nothing back!” If after the first 50 applications you have not heard anything, then stop, reassess your job seeking strategy and make a new plan. Remember that different industries require different approaches. In more creative roles, informal networking may help you find an opportunity. Few people in the media have ever filled out an application form. In contrast, networking won’t usually help get a job (or shouldn’t anyway) in the public sector job. The procedure in the public sector is more formal and structured. Larger companies may attend jobs fairs or have job sections on their websites – make sure you check these out on a regular basis. You should also not forget about attending professional membership events. Organisations such as the Zambia Institute of Chartered Accountants (ZICA), Engineering Institution of Zambia (EIZ) and the Zambia Institute of Human Resource Management (ZIHRM) will have local branches throughout Zambia that host events and discussions. Many offer student memberships which is a great way to meet professional in your chosen area. Have the courage to change your job seeking approach that isn’t working and try something new which might – after all what have you got to lose?
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