job search confusion. getting help applying for a job in South AfricaThe nature of advertised job opportunities has changed dramatically over the past 10 years.  As a result, the challenge of pinpointing the type of opportunity that suits job seekers has changed as well.

Whereas historically, newspapers were the primary vehicle for job adverts and you knew that if you bought the Cape Times on a Monday and the Weekend Argus on a Saturday, pretty much all the local, some national and even international opportunities would be there.  You simply had to troll through the situations vacant until you found what you were looking for. There are still situations vacant advertised in the newspaper, but the nature of the jobs advertised in printed media has changed and the volume of adverts has diminished markedly. Now, the internet dominates job advertising (indeed, most advertising) and it takes a bit of understanding as to how this all works in order to make sense of the seeming plethora of adverts.

In essence, there are job boards, job aggregators and company websites to consider. Job boards are popular with recruiters as they are well known to candidates and often have a database facility that allows a candidate to store their CV so that prospective employers can search for people that match their selection criteria. There are two key things that you as a candidate need to do. Firstly, if your details are in the job board database, you need to keep them updated so that they remain relevant. Secondly, if you are actively looking for a job, you need to understand where the opportunities that you find appealing are going to be found. Take some time to go through their various sections and refine your search criteria until you find the type of job that you are looking for. Always remembering that companies often put the same advert in a number of different sections to ensure that they reach as many people as possible.

Job aggregators are search engines that go through the job boards and categorise the adverts that are on there. The advantage they offer is that they will have adverts from many sites in one place for you to go through. The disadvantage is that the adverts they list are all listed somewhere else and unless you are well organised, it can become very confusing trying to determine which job is which.   You could find yourself applying multiple times to the same opportunity. Not the best way to make a good impression.

Company websites are great not only for identifying opportunities, but they also allow you to immediately do some research into the company so that you can make a far more considered decision about the opportunity.

The internet is full of employment adverts. Many are duplicated three, four or five times. Adverts stay on the various sites until the advertiser removes them so some adverts can be weeks and even months old. It is thus very important that you, as an applicant actively seeking employment, keep track of what you are applying for in order to remain in control of this early part of the recruitment process.

A number of jobs don’t get advertised on job boards or printed media, but are rather the subject of a ‘search’ conducted by recruiters, HR or hiring managers. They use various tools to assist them in identifying potential candidates. A popular one is Linkedin where they are able to identify people who are doing a similar role to the one they want to recruit for.  For this reason, it’s critical that you keep your LinkedIn profile up to date and highlight your successes and achievements so that your skills are relevant. In the same way it is important that you keep your details up to date on any job board database that you might belong to, as a search through this database is often the first step that a recruiter might take.

Your network of business contacts are always worth exploring when looking for the next opportunity. They already know you, have probably seen the results of your efforts and importantly can act as an advocate for you, guiding you through some of the processes and provide introductions to key decision makers. Don’t be afraid to talk to them, discuss your job aspirations and seek their advice.

You will often hear talk of people and companies having to have the ‘right fit’ to be successful. This is difficult to ascertain for both parties, more especially so for you as an applicant. This is yet another area where your network can play a critical role. Ask those in your network about the company you are interested in working for, what have they heard? What’s good? What’s bad? What’s the industry opinion of them? Are they an employer of choice? Are there any things you need to be aware of? You can be certain that the company will do a SWAT analysis on their prospective employees, so it stands to reason that you should do a SWAT analysis on a prospective employer.  Get the feedback from your network to help you do that analysis.

Approach your search for employment in a systematic and thoughtful manner, with care and due consideration.  The result will lead to eventual success.