The battles of seeking and retaining employment

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How to survive in the job-market jungle

Ever wondered why you are not getting enough responses after applying for a job or why you did not get a callback for a second round of interview? Or why you are being let go without a contract renewal? 

Like we all wished that school taught us about basic finance and law, most of us – if not all – wish we knew about some of the rules of the employment industry during college or university. Accumulating information from many discussions with job seekers and job providers from local and international organizations, here is a crucial guideline that can hopefully give you an edge in your career. 

Basic etiquette

You must have an official email address stating your proper name, preferably a Gmail address for efficiency. Do not continue to use the cryptic email ID which you opened in your adolescent or teenage years. Save your CV, resume and cover letters by your full name. Customize your CV or resume according to the job you are applying for. Do not recycle the same file continuously for every company/organization you apply to. Try to use the keywords from the job description in your CV or resume. This will help the Human Resource personnel to search for you easily. 

There are many formats and templates online for a neat looking CV. It is unnecessary to put family information or that medal you won at the annual sports day at school. Avoid making a CV or resume more than two or three pages. Highlight information relevant to the position you are applying for. Before you apply anywhere, check the office distance from your residence. There are people who genuinely quit because of the hectic commute. Think carefully about your commitment and the distance you are signing up for. 

Round one 

Actively look for peers, mentors and acquaintances who currently work or previously worked in the organization you are applying in. Ask about their experience, what they like or do not like for a better understanding. Once you get a call back always be punctual. Remember, it is better to be early than to be late. If you running late due to an emergency, notify the person in charge. 

Be prepared for a technical assessment and not just a verbal interview. Read the Terms of Reference (ToR) and the job description (JD) very carefully. Consider those documents as your syllabus that will help you prepare for what to expect at the interview. One of the most important answer that you must prepare yourself tactfully is for the question ‘What do you know about our organization?’ Do not blabber the material you read on the website, rather give your personal opinion about their work, achievements and align your answer towards how you can be of value to them in the future. As for the technical aspect of the job interview, practice the skills that are mentioned in the ToR and JD. Go through materials and software and practice to brush up on your presentation, writing, analyzing and time-management abilities.

Round two 

“Tell me about yourself” does not suggest that you will repeat the same things written on your CV or resume. Choose to say things about yourself that is not on your CV such as what you specialize in or your areas of interest. There are abundant YouTube videos that will help you train for popular interview questions. Search according to the position/sector you are applying for. Practice what you want to say when you are asked about your strengths and weaknesses. Do not let your guard down while answering these questions, be professional and provide formal answers that highlight your work ethics. 

Be aware of your body language and choice of words. At the end of the interview, you will be requested to ask questions to the panel of interviewers or you can volunteer to do so. Do not hesitate to ask anything as it is your right. Ask away about salary (negotiable or not), benefits, probation period, training or workshop available, growth opportunities, etc. Also ask about the previous person who was working in the position you applied for and why s/he left. This will give you an insight to the organization’s expectation from that particular position.

Knock out 

Congratulations! If you have been called back for another round of interview or selected for the position you applied for, then you did it right! Usually the second round of interview can sometimes be in person or through a video call interview. For a second round, the procedure is similar but a bit more intense. 

Once again prepare carefully. After you have been selected, ask for a copy of the organization manual. Read it like your holy book! It will have all the information you ever need to know to help you decide about your salary and probation before signing the contract, so do not hesitate to negotiate! Make sure you have a copy of your appointment letter and all the other documents. Submit your required documents such as identification papers, legal papers and release letter from your previous work if you have any.

Level up 

After successfully acquiring the position you applied for, sit down with your boss and supervisor and discuss your targets and goals. It is vital to discuss each other’s expectations, learning and development opportunities just like any other partnership. Maintain a healthy relationship with your colleagues, avoid gossip, excessive use of cellphones at work and respect everyone’s boundaries. Food is the universal ice-breaker and one cannot emphasize on this enough! 

Most of your workplace bonds will be built on mutual eating, joking and complaining habits. Do ask for help when required but don’t be an inconvenience to others. Ask for feedback or a second opinion and find ways to improve the quality of your work. Be involved with other departments as well so that you have a holistic knowledge of your organization and not just be informed about the work you do. Look for collaborative prospects and also be active in office festivities and special occasions for bonus points. 

Tanishaa Arman Akangkha is a full-time researcher and an overtime dreamer. For comments, queries or criticisms, she can be reached at [email protected]