These days there are so many people looking for jobs. But only few are hiring. If you find one, it’s even harder to keep it. Whether you get to keep the job or not does not depend only on your performance. It depends on your employers performance too. If you lose yours, don’t get too depressed about it. There is always another one right around the corner, if you play your cards right. You might notice that there are people waiting without jobs for longer period due to recession. But in my experience it happen mainly due to the choices they have made, knowingly or unknowingly . At least in tech sector in this part of the world, there are jobs if you know how to get them.
Each of us did our share of job hunting once we leave the school. Number of times I had the opportunity to help few friends who were having a bad time securing a job opportunity. There are often comments on the web by students complaining about difficulties of finding a job. They keep blaming on everything except on them self. But more often than not it’s because of their mistakes they lose the opportunity . Over the years I learned a thing or two about job hunting. I was hoping to write something about it for a while. But I did not find much time or motivation for it. Even if I wanted, I did not have a place to write it until I start this blog.
I am not an employment adviser. Therefore don’t consider this as employment advice in any way. If you want to take this as advice, please do that with your own risk. I don’t know much about all sectors of employment. I’ll try to focus on tech field in Sri Lanka. That is where myself and most of my friends are working. But some of the points mentioned here might be applicable to other fields/regions too.
Following are few things that I think important for effective job hunting. Even though I have put them in a list, they do not happen in sequence. Most of them are on going activities. And most of them happen in parallel. I hope this is not completely useless.
I was originally putting everything in to a single article. But it turned out to be bit too long. So I break it to two posts. This is the first part, it talks about the application process. Grab a cup of coffee and take a seat. I said coffee, not tea. It’s going to get boring :).
Set Your Goals, Set Your Standards
Whatever you are trying to do, it is best to set your goals and standards upfront. You can’t go that far if you don’t know where to you want to go. At least that’s how I look at it. When it comes to finding a job, you will need to decide what kind of job you want to do. Do you want to become an application developer or a web developer. What kind of things you like to work with. Are you ok with having to working with old technologies. What kind of working environment you want to work in. Do you like support, consulting or R&D. Do you want to work in a service company or product company. Are you looking a place to work for a long time. Or are you ok with having to go through same job hunting process in another year or so. All these helps you to select your targets.
Ok! One might say that any job will do for me. These days its hard enough to find a job, why do we need to narrow down our options. Well! it is just that when you focus your effort, and when you are clear about what you want, you get better results.
It is important not to make this choice based on your current skill set or on your previous work experience. Skills are something you can develop to reach your goals. This is just your goals and goals only. However you might want to be a bit realistic here. It is bit difficult to find your dream job in the middle of a recession. It’s true that we are coming out of the recession now. But it will take some time for the job market to recover.
Keep an Eye on the Market
You need to keep a close an eye on how the job market is moving. Since we are moving out of the recession, things are picking up again. But it will take some time for the job market to recover from all residual effects of the recession. For example, if you are just coming out of a university or school, you will have to compete with experienced developers who are out there looking for a job. There are many of them thanks to recession. Also when the supply of workers is high and demand is low, I think you know what happens to the pricing. But that heavily depends on what you have to offer to the employer.
Also if you have monitored the job market you should have noticed that there are some new companies coming to Sri Lanka. Specially after war ended. Also, job market came to a standstill and most local employment websites simply dried out once the election heat started to build up. Things are picking up again, but my guess it will be slow till the dust settle after general election in April. Oh! then there is new year vacation period. All these things will impact the results of your hunting, how to plan your schedule, and where to look for jobs.
Fill in Your Skill Gaps
This is a continuous process. Once you know where you want to go. Next natural step if to find the things you need to get there. You can start looking for job advertisements for kind of jobs you want. From them you can get an idea on what kind f skills required. You can spend some time to learn those skills. You don’t need professional experience of them. Just figuring out the basics is enough. You can find as much as learning resources you want on the web. But be aware that some advertisements put all acronyms under the sun in their required skills list. Chances are, you will not need all of them.
Don’t postpone sending applications until you learn the skills. As I said, this is an ongoing process. Having said that, you should also keep in mind, when you apply without required skills you may not get the job, unless the employer is willing to give new employees some time to learn while on the job.
Build Your Network
Its time to build your network of contacts if you already haven’t done so. This is not really for asking favors. When looking for jobs you need contacts to effectively send out applications as well as to gather information on potential employers. You can use your contacts to submit applications to the companies that are not openly hiring. When you apply to places, you can use your contacts to check the progress of your applications. When you have to go for interviews, your contacts can give you all the critical information you need to prepare for the interview. When you have to decide on whether to take a job offer or not, your contacts can give vital information that you need to make that important decision. Anyone you know can be in this list. Your old friends, new friends, relatives…
Polish Your CV and Covering Letter
Have you been in a situation where you send out so many applications/resumes but you never get a call for an interview. If that is the case, you haven’t done this part right. Your resume and covering letter has a very specific purpose. That is to get you an interview. Make sure you have a professional resume and a covering letter. When you include your past experiences, try to include specific challenging assignments that you completed in the past. Not just where you worked or studied in the past and how long.
You will find it difficult to remember all those details. But take your time to build a good resume. It will become one of your critical tools to finding a job. I know few guys who are updating their resume as an ongoing process. Whenever they do something interesting that can make their resume shine, they go and update it. Just search on the web, you will find plenty of resources on how to do a good resumes and covering letters.
When you apply make sure to change your resume and covering letter to meet the particular interests of the employer. Every employer is different and they get impressed by different things. You have to make sure you highlight those things that each employer is looking for.
Don’t lie in the resume. Specially when you make a good one. That can get you an interview, but not the job.
Sign Up With a Job Placement Agency
There are few places in Sri Lanka that give you job placement services. They aggregate job vacancies through their cooperate contacts. And forward your application for you, to the jobs that they think you are qualified. When you register they will conduct a small interview. Some give you the service free or charge and charge the employer for helping him to find suitable employees. Some will directly charge you a fee when you sign up and/or charge a commission from your first salary once you find a job through them.
Don’t expect to find that perfect job that you are dreaming about through this approach. These services do not consider individual requirements that you may have. It is a kind of match making process. I don’t think that best managed companies use this kind of services. Because they have their own hiring processes. There has been some scams that operated under this model in the past. Therefore keep your eyes open for scams, specially if they ask you to pay upfront when you sign up.
If you do everything right up to this point, you will get interviews. Just try it and see.
If you still don’t think reading this was a complete waste of time. Please read the Sequel to this post “Tech Job Hunting in Sri Lanka – Part 2 – To the Interview and Beyond!“. May be that will change your mind.