Finding your dream job

10 mins read

The FINANCIAL — The Georgian job market is not an easy one: on the one hand, official unemployment is very high, at over 15% as of 2011, with unofficial employment estimates being even higher, while on the other hand companies are desperate for good employees.

 

We are seeing a mismatch: there is a large pool of unemployed people available, but not with the skills that companies demand. In this article, I’ll discuss some of the classic traps that job seekers fall into, and give you advice on what you can to land your dream job.

First, many Georgians believe that certificates and diplomas are of the utmost importance. It is not uncommon to walk into an office in Georgia and see the wall behind the occupant filled with diplomas and certificates, often from one-day trainings or workshops. While they indeed do make for very nice wallpaper, do not make the mistake of thinking that you are your certificates. What matters more is experience, attitude, and general intelligence. While I definitely recommend putting your educational background on your CV, don’t waste space by listing certificates for short training courses, especially if they are not relevant to the job that you are applying for.

Second, job seekers are often very focused on the salary that they will receive once they start. However, there is a plenitude of questions that you probably also need to think about. Most importantly, will there be an opportunity for you to learn new skills and gain new experiences? There are many companies that will pay you a lot of money to shuffle paper all day long. However, in the 21st century, the world is constantly changing, and if you stand still, it will pass you by. Find a job in a company where there are people who you can learn from, and where there are people who you see as role models.

Third, make sure that you can show a future employer that you are a hard worker and an eager learner. Many students will wait until they have finished their degree before taking up any (part-time) employment, and prefer to focus on their studies. This is a crucial mistake. When you are looking for a job after finishing your education, your previous work experience and activities are the only verification of the fact that you know how to function in a professional environment and work hard.

When I look at an applicant’s CV, there are two types of jobs that I like to see: jobs where they learned something, for example an unpaid internship at an international organization, and jobs that show that an applicant can work hard, such as a job as a cleaner or cook. The latter type of job is often regarded as “unworthy” by Georgian people. Many Georgian parents would be embarrassed to see their children cleaning bathrooms for other people or working as servers. However, I think these jobs show character, and demonstrate that the applicant doesn’t feel “above” anything.

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If you are currently unemployed, don’t wait for the perfect job. Take up a job that you might not like that much while you keep looking for another job, or apply for (unpaid) internships. Big gaps on a CV look much worse than holding relatively low-level employment.

Fourth, many people have no idea what a CV should actually look like, or what you are supposed to write in a cover letter. These are the only pieces of information an employer has about you when deciding whether to interview you or not, so make sure they are perfect. Don’t lie or exaggerate, because eventually your employer will find out. Contact me if you are interested in more information about what a CV and cover letter should look like.

Let’s suppose that you have made it through the first phase of the job search process: you sent in your CV and have been invited to an interview. How do you get ready?

First, know your CV! You’d be surprised to hear how many people don’t forget about things that are on their CV, and are unable to answer specific questions about things that are listed on their CVs. If you put something on your CV, make sure you remember the details. What was it that you did at that job? What did you achieve? Why did you leave? These are very common questions, so be ready to answer them. An interviewer might also ask you to walk him or her through your CV.

Second, make sure to be able to talk about yourself. A very common question is “tell me about yourself?” Most of the people I interview have trouble answering this question, because they try to come up with an answer on the spot. Don’t be like everyone else, and make sure you practice your answer to this question before you set foot in the interview room: be ready to talk about yourself for a few minutes. The job interview is largely about selling yourself, so make sure you are ready to do so. Interviewers often also ask about your strengths and weaknesses, and it doesn’t hurt to prepare answers to those questions.

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Third, have an open and positive attitude. Smile, and use positive language. Talking about how much you hate your life or about your terrible experiences with other employers is probably not going to help your chances of getting the job. If you speak badly about your previous employer, the person interviewing you might think you will may speak the same way about them later. The same positivity is required when it comes to body language. Many people close up when they are nervous. Instead, open up your shoulders, and lean towards the interviewer. Look confident and interested. Some applicants also have a tendency to start to fiddle or touch their faces when they are nervous. If you have these habits, be aware of them, and try to prevent them from occurring.

Fourth, make sure that you know something about the company you are interviewing with. Look at the company’s website, if they have one, and do a Google search to find recent news about the company. Also, read the job description again, so that you know exactly what the job is about. This will help you to ask intelligent questions during the interview, and avoid any misunderstandings arising from not knowing what the company does exactly or what the job is about.

Fifth and last, abide by norms of professionalism. There are very small things that you can do that can make a big difference. Show up on time, look professional and appropriately dressed, and shake the interviewer’s hand when you enter the room. When you communicate with the company through e-mail or over the phone, make sure you are professional in your communications, write or talk in full sentences, and are polite. These things might sound obvious, but there are many applicants who forget to abide by these norms of professionalism, which ends up hurting their prospects.

Finding a job can be a daunting process. However, if you follow my advice, and are well-prepared, I am sure you will have more success. Good preparation can go a long way towards finding your dream job.

 

 

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