Finding a job is easier if you know the right people
If you have been unemployed or you are actively looking for a new job in Tanzania, then you must know that too often getting an interview at a company you really want to work for depends on who you know more than what you know.
In fact, this is not only the case in Tanzania, as research shows that up to 70% of jobs in countries like the U.S. are not advertised. Instead, they are usually filled internally at companies through the promotion of existing staff, referrals, or recruitment agencies. Many companies do this because the job market is highly saturated and employers receive dozens of applications from unqualified candidates looking to fill a single position. Simply put, there are too many people in the job market and it’s in companies’ best interest to only target the few candidates that are right for the position.
As a result, candidates who may be qualified but don’t have the right connections may miss out on job opportunities that they are perfect for. Luckily, there are tactics that every job seeker can use to maximise their visibility to potential employers and land an interview.
For the 30% of jobs that are advertised:
First things first, there are a number of things you can do to stand out more to recruiters for the jobs that you are currently applying for through company websites and job directories.
Be an overachiever
Here’s the thing, while companies may prefer to hire people within their own networks, they won’t ignore an applicant who seems incredibly qualified. This doesn’t just mean that you have the degree required for the job, but that you have acquired the additional skills that will make you execute the position to your highest potential.
If you’ve looked at a couple of job descriptions for the type of position you want, then you must have noticed a number of qualifications that continuously show up across applications. For instance, if you work in marketing and then you will realize that a lot of businesses now want marketers who are experienced in digital marketing and are trained in using software like Google Analytics, AdWords, WordPress, and sometimes even design software like Photoshop. Even if these skills are not necessary requirements but preferred, it’s now your responsibility to invest time and resources on online courses to learn these additional skills.
You will be rewarded for your efforts as companies would rather hire someone who they don’t have to train much, tan someone who they do. Moreover, it shows that you are proactive and a self-learner, qualities that businesses are always looking for – especially in Tanzania where most people in the job market are not.
Write a knockout cover letter/motivational letter
For the 30% of jobs that are advertised, make sure you write a cover letter. While you will most likely always be asked to provide a CV, including a cover letter will help paint a better picture of your professional history and how your experiences make you the best candidate for the position.
Remember, the goal is to get a recruiter to spend more time on your application and remember you more than other candidates. So, if you add a short cover letter to the text body of the email when you send in your application, this will increase the chances that they will read it and be more interested in learning more about you.
However, writing a cover letter recruiters want to read isn’t easy, so make sure you give yourself enough time to create a customized one for each application you send out.
Follow up on applications
Often, people don’t realize that what they do after they’ve sent out the application can help them land an interview. Once again, the goal is to make yourself stand out. So what you should do is find out the contact information for the person reading your application and email them asking if they have received your application and when you should hear back from them. This not only shows your interest in the position but also helps the reader remember who you are once they get to your application.
A sample email could be:
Dear Mr. Wahiga,
I recently submitted an application for the Chemistry Teacher position at your school. I was writing to inquire if you have received my application, and when should I expect to hear back from you. I’m very excited for the opportunity to join your team.
All the best,
However, this is only effective if you are incredibly qualified for the job and represented yourself well in your CV and cover letter. It’s about building top of mind awareness for yourself as a candidate.
Also, this may only work if you are applying for positions at small to mid-size companies where there is a single person handling job applications. If you are applying for a job at big organizations like UN, chances are, you won’t be able to pinpoint the specific person reading the application unless you have an internal contact, and they usually specify that if you don’t hear back from them in 3 weeks you should consider your application unsuccessful.
For the 70% of jobs that aren’t advertised:
Now that you have amplified the quality of your application for the jobs that are advertised. Here is how to learn about and be considered for those ‘hidden’ jobs that you don’t know about.
Let your network know that you are looking
There are some old practices that never go out of style, and word of mouth is one of them. Even if you aren’t connected to key people in your industry, you do have family, friends, and acquaintances in the professional sector and they have their own networks that you can benefit from. So:
- Make a list of all the people you know that are relatively close to the industry or type of job role you are looking for
- Either text or email them that you are actively searching for employment, and if anything comes up they should think of you
- Also, ask if you can send them your resume, and only send it to those that respond
- Return the favour and consistently send links to job descriptions you think someone could be interested in
- If they know people who could help you, then ask them to make an introduction and follow-up on it
All in all, the people around you are resources that can help you start building a wider network of professionals that may help you get the job.
Use social media
We’ve all heard stories of how employers research job candidates’ social media accounts to ensure that their values match the companies. Well, there are a number of ways you can also use social media to get noticed (in a positive way) by recruiters.
For one, you need to make sure your LinkedIn page is up to date with information about job experiences, skills, and interests. Nowadays, more and more recruiters use LinkedIn to find and reach out to qualified talent for different job positions.
You should also actively engage with the social media accounts of companies you are interested in working for, by:
- Following their social media accounts
- Commenting on their posts and sharing relevant articles and industry insights with them
- Once you build an online relationship, be bold, and send them a light-hearted message with a link to your resume: “Hi Google, I think we should take this relationship to the next level…what do you think?”
Become a thought leader
A thought leader is someone who is considered an expert in their specific industry and contributes to the wealth of opinions, ideas, and trends in that field. This may sound like a difficult status to achieve, but really, all you have to do is create an online platform for yourself and consistently create content that informs and engages people in your field. For instance, you can:
- Start a blog and publish weekly articles related to your field. For example, if you are in banking, then you can write articles on ‘What type of savings account should you open?’, ‘How to get a home loan’, ‘What to consider when choosing a bank’ etc. These will not only be useful to people who need these services, but your name/brand will start to be associated with ‘banking advice’, which is attractive to employers. Moreover, it shows that you have a wealth of knowledge that is needed for the job
- Pitch to your local newspaper or relevant blog and become a columnist or contributing writer who creates articles about a specific subject matter
- Create a YouTube channel and produce videos, similar to the blog, about specific topics that are relevant to your industry
So what’s the point of doing all this?
Simple, personal branding. You want your name to be attached to your field, so that when potential employers are searching the web for industry relevant information or experts, they come across you.
This is a long term investment to get that really amazing job that you can’t simply apply for. Moreover, this can be an opportunity for you to start your own business, as if your blog or YouTube channel gets enough visitors than advertisers will be interested in sponsoring ads and content on your platform, or working with you on other projects.
Use recruitment services
Many companies rely on recruitment agencies to find top tier candidates for different positions, and often times recruitment agencies already have a database of candidates to pool from and will only widen the search if they don’t find viable or available talent within that pool. So what you need to do is get yourself in that pool and benefit from the relationship your chosen recruitment agency has with some of the best companies in Tanzania.
You have to be proactive
The phrase, ‘you reap what you sow’ is incredibly appropriate for job search efforts in a difficult job market. You simply can’t rely on just sending your CV to get noticed by employers, but have to go the extra mile to impress them. So start working on those additional skills they are looking for, start building your online brand and expanding your network. None of these things are easy, but they are definitely not impossible, and they’ll surely get the attention of the right people. And that’s exactly what you want.