Lately, I have had a number of people in my network, both personal and professional, asking me questions in relation to the next stage of their career path. I thought it would be helpful to respond to some of the commonly asked questions on a public platform. Perhaps it may be helpful to a wider population, including recent graduates, to the person seeking change and anyone that is employable yet no longer employed for one or other reason. I trust that you find some value in this piece.
How do I prepare for an interview? What surety do I have that I am answering the questions correctly?
An interview is an opportunity for you to convince the recruiter that you are the right person, not only for the vacant position, but for the organisation as a whole, to partner with them, in accomplishing their vision. Preparation is key as it nurtures your confidence. When you believe in your ability, being invited for a ‘conversation’ with the recruitment team should be exciting, authentic and flow relatively smooth. Whenever you apply for a vacancy, keep the job advert. If, or when you are called for an interview, review the advert. The panel is likely to ask you questions in relation to what they listed as pivotal in the advert. You should be able to provide the panel with practical examples of when, how and where you applied the skill or capability that they are looking for. If you have never applied such skills, think of a close or similar scenarios to indicate your ability to cope in the role, if successful. It is your duty to study the company’s history, vision, strategy and their after map how you plan to contribute to their overall mandate. Study the industry, know what challenges the company is faced with and the opportunities at their disposal. On the day of the interview, you will be anxious, there is nothing wrong with that, but to avoid unnecessary anxiety, make sure you arrive early so you can get acquainted with the environment. Remember, in as much you want or need this job, the employer too, needs the skills or talent you possess. Relax, believe in yourself and aim to impress.
How do I deal with interview rejection?
Do not dwell too long on the rejection. Remove yourself for the situation by reaching out to your inner cycle of family and friends for some destruction. I would also advise that you reach out to a mentor, if you have one. Dealing with any kind of rejection is not easy. It can be upsetting and may even drastically lower one’s confidence. Keep in mind however, that a job interview is a competition and the greatest challenge of all is that you do not know who you are competing against. Chances are that you also do not know the interview panel. Some of the hardest rejection to accept is the one you do not anticipate. Even more so when you have received several other rejections in a short period of time. Do not take it personally. Understand that in the ideal situation, a recruitment panel is guided by specified criteria and assessments when making their decision. Rather try to put the ‘missed’ opportunity to work. Contact the HR personnel overseeing the recruitment to request for feedback and guidance, if possible. If you are opportune to get feedback, this should give you some perspective bringing about self-awareness for the next interview. A rejection should not be perceived as a closed door. You should strive to maintain the ‘relationship’ that may have been initiated through the interview meeting. Respond to them, thank them for the opportunity and for showing an interest in you, wish them well in their choice, and let them know that you are still interested in possible future opportunities – only if you really are.
I have been applying for jobs for months on end, but none have been successful so far. What do I do while I wait?
Keep applying. Do not be discouraged. What you do while you wait for your big break depends how much time you have on your hands. If you are currently employed, no matter how you feel about your job, deliver as if you were a new broom. Show up and show out. The last think you want is to sabotage your current job. The quality of your delivery in your current job may speak volumes for you at your next or future interview. If you are unemployed, it may be a little more challenging to keep busy, but not impossible. Try to schedule different activities into your day. Perhaps a little exercise to start off your day. Thereafter do some reading, keep yourself on track with current affairs, especially affairs that affect your industry of interest. Enroll yourself into a short course if you can, whether online or otherwise. Use this time to keep your mind active and to stay agile in your trade and related trades. If you are still not satisfied, do some volunteer work, anything to keep yourself busy while you keep applying for every suitable opportunity. Do not get desperate (it is highly tempting), do not undermine yourself.
How do I ensure my application / CV stands out?
Always make sure that your CV is aligned to what your potential employer is looking for. Your CV must clearly indicate how you are suitable for the position that you are applying for. It should be written as a response to the advert. For instance, if they need someone one that is computer literate, make sure you state that you have up to date computer skills with excellent knowledge, for example, of Microsoft applications such as this and that. When the potential employer is reading your CV they should not have to read through paragraphs on end in order to find the key requirements. Provide them with solid evidence in your content.
I have worked for one company since the start of my career, I want to move, but I am afraid of change. What should I do?
There is a reason why you have stayed with your current employer for the period you have been there. What are your reasons for leaving? Are you leaving your employer, or are you seeking to grow your career? It may happen that when a person stays in one place for a prolonged period, their career may begin to feel stagnant, for various reasons. It is advisable to focus your desire or need for change on the career growth benefits. Explore new avenues and opportunities because you want to grow, you want a new challenge, you want to expand your network. Do not do it because you want to escape, as this may cause you to make wrong career decisions. It is not only the employer that is choosing, you too are choosing the next stage where your career might flourish. When your reasons for wanting to move are growth centered, the idea of change will not be as traumatizing. You may find yourself choosing wisely and moving for the right reasons.
Is there anything wrong with diversifying my career path?
When changing jobs and even employers, you are diversifying your career. Career diversity is an absolute necessity for the current and future world of work. There are levels to career diversity. It may simply be as stated above, or the extreme version of doing something totally different, moving from one industry to another and more. Once again, it depends on what you want to achieve. If you are clear about your path and objectives, as well as how you plan to achieve these, then go ahead and diversify. The benefits of diversifying include; broader exposure, varied skills, fresh perspective and wider career choice. Do it strategically.
My advice is not cast in stone and does not guarantee success, however I trust that it may provide you with a better perceptive to help you cope and persist through the, sometimes, stressful process of career progression. I wish you well in the journey of your career progression. Keep growing. Keep evolving. Keep moving forward.