The internet is likely the most powerful platform you have at your disposal as a job-hunter - if used correctly. Depending on how you conduct your online job hunt, it can make or break your chances at finding employment. For this reason, you need to plan before you start applying. It won't make sense to have the perfect cover letter and CV, only for a potential employer to look you up on Facebook and see potentially unsavory posts or photos.
That said, the internet makes it easy to search through hundreds of job advertisements, contact potential employers and reach out to a wider network of people. Let's dig a little deeper and see exactly how to effectively job hunt on the internet.
Define your preferred position
Before you start looking for a job online, do some preparation; assess yourself and form an idea of the type of job you are looking for. There is an abundance of job postings online, and you’ll need to know what you are looking for in order to find it.
Ask yourself the following questions to form a clear picture of the jobs you are aiming for:
- What am I good at?
- What interests me?
- What qualifications do I have (if any)?
- What experience do I have? (work, volunteering, hobbies)
- Where do I want to work? (from home, nearby, in the city)
- When do I want to work (8-to-5, weekends, or night shift)
Ensure to be mindful and realistic when laying down your requirements for your preferred position. You need to aim for a position that not only exists, but has adequate demand in the job market. For example, you may be skilled at agriculture, but doing that at night is unlikely.
Research salary scales
Before you start applying for jobs, do some industry research and see what you can reasonably be expected to earn in the role. There are various sites that can give you some idea of salaries in various fields in South Africa, related to the different Provinces. Where you want to work can have a big impact on the salary you can expect. This will also put you in better positioning for negotiating your final wage. You can try using PayScale or Mywage.co.za
The above websites will also allow you to see the salary range based on the number of years experience you have. This is highly important when it comes to negotiating your salary; you do not want to undersell yourself.
Prepare your CV - and then Tailor it.
Based on the previous steps, you should be able to draft a Curriculum Vitae that is suitable for your ideal job. Later, once you have found some opportunities, you should further tweak your C.V. for that specific employer or job. You shouldn't need to re-write your C.V. every time you apply for a position, but it is best to ensure that you tailor it to fit the role. If you need assistance in writing your C.V. click here.
The great thing about the internet is that you can stalk companies online and learn about their needs and desires. Once you know what these are, you can work those into your C.V. and cover letter to show them that you can solve problems that they care about. This will provide an invaluable edge over your competition.
Finding job adverts and responding
There are many sites you can use to find suitable positions such as: LinkedIn, CareerJunction, Jobmail.co.za, Careers24.co.za, Pnet.co.za, Indeed.co.za and Gumtree.co.za among many others.
It will take time and diligence to sort through the hundreds of postings, and you may start to lose hope if you struggle finding suitable positions. Make sure to keep in mind that landing a good job is life-changing, and patience will go a long way. Your next job might only get posted next week - so keep looking.
If you are lucky enough to have some working experience behind you in a professional position, you can reach out to recruiters and recruitment agencies directly who may well have something for you. Remember, they get paid for each person they successfully place into a role.
You can also look at joining up on various forums and professional websites where people may advise of job openings. If you are part of a professional organization, their web page or forums might be a good place to find an employment opportunity as well.
Target employers directly
This one is my personal favorite, and has landed me a fair amount of freelance work, and at least one permanent position. Use Google to search for companies that fall in the right area and industry that you are interested in. Send well written, professional emails to the hiring managers or recruiters where possible, detailing how you found the company and why you are interested in working for them. Sometimes you can find the information of the HR manager or potential hiring manager on their website, or you could contact them via a phone call to get the information so you can send your CV to someone who may actually look at it. If the company has job boards on their web page, make sure you get your CV in via that portal as well.
You may also use LinkedIn to find out who the managers or owners at the company are, and reach out to them directly should their website not make it clear who to contact. Be sure to always first check their website though, as some companies will require you to contact their HR department, and sending messages to upper management or owners can annoy them if they have made that instruction known.
Networking and social media
You can use social media to inform your contacts that you are looking for a new opportunity. Employers do prefer to hire someone recommended by current employees as opposed to total strangers. Do not spam people or pages and do not post desperate-sounding pleas, though.
Maintain a professional image, making sure your social media is not full of things that could be detrimental if a potential employer should happen to connect with you (or even stalk you) on these platforms. When in doubt, set strict privacy controls on places life Facebook, and be extremely mindful when making something public.
You have to ensure your online reputation is clear, whether or not you decide to use these platforms (and you should) to job search. Some companies use social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to post actual job openings as well, so stay connected.
Be on the lookout for scams
It may sound counter-intuitive that someone offering you a job is trying to scam you, but it does happen. Real employers will not ask for money or fees during the application process. That is highly unprofessional, and not the norm for reputable employers. If they cannot afford to pay for credit checks and background checks out of their own pocket, then they cannot afford to employ you. Do not fall for this.
Also be sure to not take online freelance work without a contract, and partial upfront payment. Oftentimes, the scammer may take your work, disappear, and never pay you.
Just remember, the options for job hunting online are multi-faceted; there is no one-stop shop. You need to spread your options as far as possible if you are looking for that dream job. It takes time, motivation and effort to do the research, find the potential jobs or companies and apply for the positions, but you should not give up.
Respond timeously and professionally
When you do get an opportunity to interview, make sure you respond promptly and professionally. Monitor your email and ensure your phone will notify you when one arrives. Leaving an email for more than 8 working hours can be seen as very unprofessional. Try to respond as soon as you can.
Another important factor is to ensure you have connectivity when it comes time to take a phone call or video chat. You need a quiet environment too, background noise can come off as unprofessional and make it hard for you to be heard.