Posts

HR Manager’s Column – Episode 4: I got the qualification, what now?

Insider tips from our Head of HR and Training

If you have achieved your ICB qualification, congratulations! But this is only the first step. What are you doing to enhance your employability? When recruiting staff, the employer will look at more than just your qualification, they will be trying to see if you have the required competencies to fulfil the role, and also whether you will be a good fit to the company culture and values, how can you show this?

a. Job shadowing/Volunteer experience: `

We understand not everyone will have working experience straight after studying, but what have you done to gain exposure to the working world during or after your studies? In your CV you should list any job shadowing or volunteer experience you have had.

b. Leadership roles during school:

If you were ever a class representative or prefect in school, list this in your CV too! This says a lot about your leadership ability.

c. Extramural activities:

When you are not working or studying, how do you spend your days? What are you passionate about? Are you a nature-lover or book worm? You can note that too!

d. Any additional courses:

What are you doing to improve your professional development? If you have noticed that your admin skills are not very good, why not do a course to learn new skills? There are many online sites which offer short courses to improve skills, such as Linkedin Learning or Udimy, and this shows employers that you are invested in your own development. If you are also a member of our sister company ICBA, then you will have free access to our webinars which you also help your continuous professional development (CPD). Being a part of a membership body such as the ICBA also shows your credibility to employers so if you are not yet a member, check out the website today!

HR Manager’s Column – Episode 3: The day of the interview

Insider tips from our Head of HR and Training

a. Dress to impress

It is important to look your best on the day of the interview, even if the company does not have a formal dress code, you want to stand out from other candidates. Look professional!

b. Arrive early

Anticipate traffic and the worst-case scenario, ensure that you arrive at least 15 minutes early to the interview. This also gives you a chance to have a look around and get an idea of the company culture, how do the staff interact? How does everyone behave? Being on-time also makes a good first impression.

c. It is ok to be nervous

Nerves are expected at an interview, arriving a bit early and being very well prepares can help a lot. This is why I suggest making all your notes in your notebook, so that even if you are a bit nervous, you can refer to your notes. Take a deep breath, it is ok!

d. Preparation is everything!

Have I mentioned this enough?

e. Remember to smile and show good body language

Again, you want to make a good and lasting impression, ensure that you show good body language and a positive attitude before and during the interview.

HR Manager’s Column – Episode 2: Interview preparation

Insider tips from our Head of HR and Training

If a company has requested an interview with you, congratulations! This means that they have seen something in your CV that they like and would like to know more about you. But this is also an opportunity for you to get to know the company!

Preparing for interviews is very important and something that the company will be impressed by, this is something that can set you apart from other candidates. Get a notebook ready to take some notes on the following, and take the notebook with you to the interview! You can refer to the notes you have made during your discussion which will show the company you are well prepared.

Firstly, do your homework on the company:

  • Ensure you have a good understanding of their business: the goods and services they offer (have a look at their website, Facebook and other social media pages and make some notes for yourself)

Secondly, make sure you have a good understanding of the position you are applying for:

  • Ask for a copy of the job description before the interview if possible
  • Go through the job description (or google a job description of a similar position if not available) and make some notes on the duties: if it involves customer service, why would you be good at fulfilling the function? What prior knowledge or skill would help you in the role? It is important to think of this before the interview as you will be more prepared to answer questions relating to why you have the potential for the position.

Thirdly, make sure you prepare some questions to ask your interviewer:

  • This helps to show you are well prepared but also will help you get more information about the company and position.
  • Try to stay away from questions relating to terms and conditions of employment, i.e. salary or working hours, the company will bring this up when the time comes.
  • Have a look at this link for some great questions to ask your interviewer: https://biginterview.com/blog/2011/08/best-questions-to-ask-end-interview.html

Lastly, you need to be prepared to answer a few questions, here are some examples of questions I typically ask candidates:

  • Tell me a bit about yourself?
  • What do you know about our company and why do you want to work here?
  • What do you know about the position and why do you think you have the potential for the position?
  • Tell me about your previous positions and the experience you have gained?

I can go on and on but you get the idea, if you would like to prepare some more questions you can also google some examples, here is a link for more info: https://fitsmallbusiness.com/best-interview-questions-for-employers/

HR Manager’s Column – Episode 1: CV tips and Applying to job ads online

Insider tips from our Head of HR and Training

This is very important as it is the company’s first impression of you, so you need to make sure it is a good one!

1. CV layout

I like a CV which is concise and to the point. Try to keep it 1 – 3 pages maximum. I do not think that you need to include copies of all your certificates, ID documents, etc. I would suggest stating your qualifications in the CV and that your transcripts or certificates are available on request.
Nowadays, there are many websites where you can download CV layouts for free, simply google free CV templates and choose a template which appeals to you, here is an example: https://www.freesumes.com/free-resume-templates-for-ms-word/
I also like a CV which has a small professional photo of the candidate, take note, professional! I think that a CV stands out when I can see the person who is applying for the position, then you are not just another piece of paper.

2. What to cover

In general, a CV should include the following information:
a. Your personal details, i.e. name, date of birth, nationality, your residential area, drivers license if applicable, languages, and most importantly, contact details!
b. Short bio/introduction of the self, experience and intention. For example, I am an X professional who has recently completed my X qualification. I have experience working in the X industry and am passionate about X.
c. I would then suggest listing your working experience, starting from the most recent. Ensure you include the company details, your title and a breakdown of your duties, the period of service and any achievements while in the position.
d. Next, I would suggest listing your education, starting from your highest qualification down to Matric, where applicable. You should also list the period or dates that you studied and the name of the institution where you obtained your qualifications.
e. Skills: list the soft skills and technical skills which you possess, i.e. do you have great communication skills? Computer skills? If so, which computer programs or platforms? i.e. MS Office and maybe you have been trained on a particular payroll software package T list that here!
f. References: it is important to list contacts which potential employers can contact regarding your experience and performance. Ideally, this would be your direct supervisor at your employer or a leader in your community, i.e. Principal from your school, who can vouch for your character and work ethic. Sometimes school leaders will help by writing you a reference letter to send to prospective employers, this helps to support your credibility.

3. Please, no spelling mistakes!

Spell check, spell check and spell check again. And once you have spell checked for the last time ask someone you trust to read through your CV to ensure your writing is free from any errors. Remember, this is the company’s first impression of you, and you want to make it a good one.

4. The importance of truthfulness and evidence

I believe very strongly about this section, and this is not only about the implications of lying on your CV (which you should not do!) but more specifically, being able to back up statements on your CV with concrete facts and justifications. For example, if you say you have great time management skills, why? If someone asked you why in the interview, would you be able to explain? You should be able to!
For every statement you make on your CV, you need to be able to back it up with a story or explanation as to why you say so. If you cannot, then maybe it should not be on in the first place.
Therefore, if you list multitasking or interpersonal skills on your CV, make sure you make some notes in your notebook about times during your studies or previous work experience which you needed to multitask or demonstrate your interpersonal skills to get the job done. A good way to do this is by explaining what was the situation or problem, what did you do that demonstrates your skill, and what was the outcome.

5. Applying to jobs online

a. You often need to create profiles on these platforms, a (professional) profile picture will make your profile stand out!
b. Ensure the information you insert matches your CV and is kept up to date
c. Make your cover letter personal to the position you are applying for, i.e. if you are applying for a customer service position, rather than stating I am applying for the position stated I the advert (which I see quite often) take two minutes to write that you are interested in the customer service position, and why, from the information you have read in the advert, you believe you are a great candidate for this position. The cover letter needs to catch the recruiter’s eye and I can easily spot the difference between a cover letter which is copy and pasted, vs one which the candidate has personalised to the position.
d. It’s tough out there! You may need to apply for 20 jobs before you get called for an interview, be prepared for this and keep trying. Do not give up!
e. If you have applied for positions online ensure you check your emails daily and keep your phone on you, if a recruiter tries to contact you and you only respond a week later, it may be too late.