No matter whether you're a student fresh out of university looking for your first full time job; a Mum re-entering the workforce after having taken a few years off; or - like most of us - someone who is just looking for something new, every jobseeker faces the same hurdles when they decide its time to look for work. The below is HRCambodia' step by step guide on how to get a job.
1. Decide on what type of job you want
Sounds like a no-brainer right? Wrong. You'd be surprised how many people seem to 'fall' into jobs without first putting some consideration into what would make them happy. Before you rush head first into your job search, take a moment to think about your career aspirations and goals, so that when you apply for roles you can ensure they are the right ones that will help your to achieve your dreams. Try to think about what you want your future to look like - here are some great questions to ask yourself:
do you want to work in office, a building site or outside in the fresh air?
do you want to work as a contractor, part time or as a full-time professional?
what type of businesses would you like to work for - a small company with plenty of room to grow or a large company with financial security?
how important is location to you - do you want to be close to home, inner-city or are you willing to travel?
what industry do you want to work i - mining & resources, aviation industry or an industry that is not only new but set to thrive?
what job title/ role do you want to apply for?
Having a clear understanding of what you want will help you to avoid roles that might turn out to be unsuitable in the long run, and it will also help you to articulate to your future employer or recruitment consultant exactly what type of jobs they should be connecting you to.
2. Assess your situation - do you have the necessary skills/experience?
Sometimes, once you have gone through the process of working out exactly what you want, you may find that your current experience and skill-set may not cover your career aspirations. If you are unsure, search for a similar role online and you will be able to see in the list of 'requirements' in the job description what prospective employers are looking for.
If you find that your skills do not match the role, don't be disheartened - with time and perseverance there are a number of ways you can achieve your career goals such as:
upskill by enrolling in a training course
volunteer to gain experience
sign up for a traineeship/internship
find a career mentor in the industry
3. Write a winning resume
For many job seekers, one of the most daunting aspects of looking for a new job is working out how to write a resume that will catch the eye of a prospective employer - and ultimately help them to stand out from the crowd. A well written, eye-catching resume can mean the difference between landing your dream job, or having to settle for something second best. Read our article 'how to write a winning resume' to learn more.
4. Write cover letters
Taking the time to write a cover letter provides you with the perfect opportunity to summarise specifically what makes you stand out as the number perfect applicant for the job you are applying for. Here you can outline to your potential employer what makes you a great fit for both the role and the company - where you can express your personality and give the hiring manager an idea about you as a real person, not just your skills and expertise. Read our article 'how to write a cover letter' to learn more.
5. Search & apply online for jobs
Once you have updated your resume and have created your cover letter template, the next step is to search and apply for jobs. In the past, this meant the time consuming process of buying a newspaper, circling the ads, posting off your resume and then waiting around for a call - not anymore! We are blessed in the age of technology to have thousands of jobs at our fingertips simply by firing up the Wi-Fi.
Extra hints & tips on how to find a job
cultivate your own personal brand: In an economic climate where the number of jobseekers vying for roles exceeds the number of available jobs on the market, it’s important to a competitive advantage over other eligible candidates. Developing your own personal brand can be the answer to setting yourself apart from other candidates who may have similar experience to you. Find out how to imprrove your personal brand.
brush up on your interview skills: Does the mere thought of attending an interview start your palms sweating and fill you with a sense of dread? Don't panic - this is normal. Being interviewed doesn’t need to be an arduous experience, and with our interview tips and hints below, we'll have you feeling confident and ready to shine in no time at all! Read our article to learn more about how to shine at your next interview.
Lastly, keep in mind is that even if you start looking for a job today, there is no way to know how long your search may end up taking. Sometimes it can take months to find the perfect job, so make sure you put your job search at the top of your list of priorities. And remember, no matter what - perseverance pays off.
HOW TO WRITE A COVER LETTER
A common mistake job seekers make is spending lots of time on finessing their resumes, only to forget to include a cover letter as part of their application. As a job seeker, you should never neglect to include a cover letter. Cover letters are often the single most under-utilised tool in a job seekers arsenal, and understanding the secrets of how to write a great cover letter is almost as important as your resume itself.
As much as you may hate the thought of having to write one, your cover letter provides you with the perfect opportunity to summarise specifically what makes you stand out as the number one applicant for the job you are applying for. It is here that you can outline to your potential employer what makes you a great fit for both the role and the company - where you can express your personality and give the hiring manager an idea about you as a real person, not just your skills and expertise. Writing a poor cover letter (or even worse, not writing one at all!) can impact negatively on how your resume is perceived.
In general, cover letters should
be tailored to be read specifically by the hiring manager advertising the role
show that you have read the advertisement carefully, considered it and understand what is required of you as the potential employee
be concise and well structured, clearly linking your experience with the requirements of the position advertised.
in length, be kept to around 5 paragraphs at most
be positive and confident, compelling the reader to look at your resume. speak the language of the hiring manager
provide a call to action prompting the hiring manager to contact you to arrange an interview
Step 1. Who should you address your cover letter to?
Where possible you should always personalise your cover letter - you may be tempted to use a variation on 'To whom it may concern' as your opening line, however there is no better way to show your interest in the organisation than by taking the time to find out who it is that has advertised the role and addressing the letter directly to them. Usually you can find the hiring manager information either directly listed on the job advertisement (usually down the bottom in the 'contact us to apply' section), or if this is left blank, try looking on the company's career page or via your LinkedIn network to ascertain who has advertised the role.
Step 2. Introduce yourself
Often your cover letter is the first interaction the prospective employer will have with you - well before they open your resume. This is why it is imperative that when writing your cover letter you must introduce yourself and give the employer a sense of who you are and more importantly, why they should hire you for the role. Spend some time highlighting your key experience and take particular care to outline your demonstrated skills and how they mirror the requirements listed in the job description. Showcase how your skills/experience matches what the employer is looking for and what sets you apart from competing applicants. Don't forget to use strong action words and ensure the overall tone of your message is confident.
E.g. "I am writing to apply for your recently advertised role of HR Manager in Melbourne. Having over 4 years experience working as a HR Manager in the Financial industry, I believe I am the perfect candidate for your role. As an expert in field sales, I pride myself on my excellent communication & negotiation skills, and in my superior ability to provide tailored solutions to my clients. In your advertisement you mentioned you are looking for someone who is energetic and who can drive sales margins. I am highly personable, cheerful and dynamic and it is my unique personality which really helps me to excel & grow both my portfolio of clients as well as the overall account worth. I am consistently a top performer and I know I would be an asset to your sales team."
Step 3. Show that you have taken the time to research the company
One of the biggest oversights that people make when they are writing a cover letter is to make it all about themselves, but one of the best ways you can make your job application stand out from the crowd is by really researching the business you are applying with, and peppering your cover letter with information that only a person who is familiar with the company would know.
Visit the company website, and Google the latest company news. In particular, a good place to start is by looking up the careers page on the website of your potential employer and learning what sets them apart as an employer brand. Familiarise yourself with what the company does and how it talks about itself so that you will be able to mention this in your cover letter, and also during your interview.
E.g.. "I have always admired ABC company and so when I saw your job advertisement I jumped at the chance to apply. Having read an article just the other day about how ABC company is expanding its operations into our western region, I can see how robust your business strategy is, and would love to be a part of this exciting new growth period in your organisation"
Step 4: include a call to action
The last note your cover letter must finish on is a strong call to action, inciting the potential employer to look through your resume and to contact you to arrange an interview date/time.
E.g.. "Please see as attached my resume. As you can see by my skills and experience, I believe I would be a perfect fit for your organisation and I would welcome the chance to meet with you and discuss this opportunity further. Please call me on 0123 123 123 or email me at email@example.com so that we can arrange a suitable date/time. I look forward to hearing from you soon."
Hot tip: don't use one generic cover letter for all your applications
Once you have taken the time to write your first cover letter, it might be tempting to recycle its use for all future job applications - don't do it!
While you might save time in the short term, having a tailored cover letter vs a generic one might be the difference between getting your dream job or losing it because of your oversight.
Your cover letter needs to show that you understand exactly what the employer wants from you as a prospective candidate, and that your skills and expertise match those that the organisation has outlined as requirements in their job advertisement. Since no two job ads are the same, the wording in your cover letters should always reflect these differentiations.
Cover letter checklist
Now you know how to write a cover letter, so what are you waiting for - write it.
Once you have written your first cover letter, read through it thoroughly and use the below checklist to ensure you have included all the essential information required:
your name and contact details
the job title you are applying for
a brief summary of your skills and experience that match the job description
a summary of why you're right for the job
outline what you know about the company, and why you think you would fit in if you were to become the successful applicant
a call to action asking the hiring manager to read your resume & to contact you to arrange an interview
Common mistakes made when writing a cover letter
Lastly, here is a list of things that you should take into consideration when learning how to write a cover letter:
Check your cover letter for any typo's or factual errors.
Always use spell check before you send your cover letter, and if in doubt, get someone you trust to read over the letter and proof it for you.
Don't cut and paste reams of text from your resume into your cover letter - employers will see straight through this.
Your cover letter is a way to show your personality, where your resume tends to be more factual, so make sure your tone and wording in your cover letter conveys you as a person, not just your skills and experience.
Don't make it a 60 page essay! The ideal length of a cover letter is between half and three quarters of an A4 page. Remember that the potential employer reading it does not have all day to scroll through a lengthy letter, so keep it succinct and to the point - you can always direct them to view your resume for further information.
Don't mention other jobs you may have applied for. Most jobseekers apply for several jobs at a time, however it is important not to mention this in your cover letter - you are trying to convince this company to hire you, so why would they be interested if they know you are looking at other roles as well?
HOW TO WRITE A WINNING RESUME
For many job seekers, one of the most daunting aspects of looking for a new job is working out how to write a resume that will catch the eye of a prospective employer, and ultimately help them to stand out from the crowd. A well written, eye-catching resume can mean the difference between landing your dream job, or having to settle for something second best.
Remember, usually your resume is the first impression a potential employer will have of you. Top resumes which attract the most attention (and ultimately land you the most interviews) are those that outline your achievements and value to the company in a short, sharp and proactive way.
Take into consideration the fact that often hiring managers are swamped by hundreds of resumes for any one job, and they may only have a couple of minutes to scan each one. This is why it is so imperative that the information you list on your resume is concise, easy to read, and follows a reverse-chronological order i.e. listing your most recent job history and education first.
In particular, employers will be looking for the below key information about you:
education & training
Our step-by-step guide to writing a resume
The golden rule is to make it as easy as possible for your prospective employer to find the key information about you that will lead to them picking up the phone and setting an interview date.
You can use the step-by-step guide below to show you how to write a resume that is packed with facts employers want to know:
Your contact details
Your name, address, phone number and email address should be displayed prominently at the top of your resume. It is best practice to use your full name (not a nickname), and if you have also spent time cultivating your personal brand on social networks, it is here that you can provide links to your social profiles (eg. LinkedIn).
This is a chance for you to detail in one or two short, concise sentences what your career aspirations are and how they relate to your current qualifications. Explain why you are looking for work (example: you want a new challenge, you want to upskill etc), exactly what you are looking for in your next job (list the actual job titles) and why it is that you are qualified to apply for these roles. A common mistake jobseekers make is that they forget to include 'what's in it' for the hiring manager - this is your chance to sell yourself, and outline what it is that is unique about you, and the benefits your potential employer will reap if they hire you.
For example: Having worked within the (sector) industry for (x) amount of years, I have extensive experience working as (job title). I am currently seeking a new challenge and exciting work environment where I can utilise my skills (list your skills here), and knowledge (in the areas of x, y z) to drive (x,y,z business objectives)
This should be a dot-point section (up to 10 points), which outline your key skills and abilities, and can be made up of both tangible and intangible assets. For example for tangible skills think about any computer applications, or software packages you may have experience in - powerpoint/keynote skills, experience using excel spreadsheets etc. For your intangible skills, think more about the abilities you have such as 'quick learner', 'personable', 'reliable' etc.
Top hint: if you are struggling to come up with ideas for the type of skills you have, search on the Randstad jobs board for a job title that matches the ones you are looking for - usually job descriptions for new roles include a 'candidate attributes' or 'role responsibilities' section, and if you can match up your specific skills to those of what is required for the job, this section will be much more compelling to your prospective employer.
I have an advanced skillset in all areas of computer skills including Excel, Word and Powerpoint.
I have excellent communication skills and have experience in both face-to-face and phone based customer service
This area is usually the most compelling to prospective employers and should include a list of all your recent and past employment history, including paid and unpaid work. Use strong, clear wording and always be prepared to back up what is written on the resume in your interview. A good format to follow is:
Name of Employer (and the address or suburb of where it was located)
Dates of employment
List of key responsibilities and achievements (NB: put yourself in the mind of your potential employer - what type of keywords and key responsibilities would they be looking for as they scan each resume? Make sure you not only list your day to day duties in your current/past roles, but also how the business you worked for benefited from the work you did. For example, if you were an IT software developer, and one of your key tasks was to develop a mobile app for the business you would list 'development of mobile application which increased sales revenue by x amount' etc)
Any awards/recognition you may have received during your time at this company
Education & Training
Don't underestimate the value of outlining your education and qualifications - particularly for those who have limited job experience. Your education and training section can cover anything from university degree's, TAFE diploma's and certificate courses, industry-specific courses, in-house courses, and any other professional training you may have undertaken during your career.
List your highest qualification first (eg. BA in communications), and then below this, list your other qualifications in order of the relevance they have to the job you are applying for. For instance, even though your latest qualification might be a Fork Lifting certificate, if you are going for a job in marketing, you should list all relevant courses to that instead.
A good format to follow is:
Name of degree/diploma/certificate etc
Name of education institution
Location of education institution
Any course credits or key achievements pertaining to this course (eg. Finished in top 5% of class with high distinctions)
Do you belong to any industry associations or hold memberships which pertain to the role you are applying to? If so, you can list these here. As an example, if you are an accountant, and a member of the chartered accountants association. A good format to follow is:
Name of association
Your role/title within the organisation
Years/months active within the organisation
Any honors received
Hobbies and interests (optional)
Many hiring managers now look not just at your skills and experience, but also at how you would fare in terms of cultural fit within their organisation. For this reason, it is sometimes worth including a short list of your hobbies and interests to give them a sense of who you are and what you enjoy doing outside of work hours. You never know - perhaps the hiring manager is an avid fan of salsa dancing, and the fact that you listed this as one of your hobbies and when paired with your other skills and experience, perhaps this is something a potential employer sees as a valuable attribute to have. Whatever your hobbies, if you do indeed decide to include this section, be careful in terms of what you want to divulge - there is always a chance that this section could work against you if the reader dislikes or is threatened by the activities you list.
References & referee's are usually listed at the end of your resume. This can be a list of around 2 to 3 people who you have worked with in the past or present - usually your managers, or ex-colleagues. Always ask for permission before listing someone as a reference. A good format to follow is:
Full name of referee
Job Title of referee
Company name of referee
Location of company
Phone number of referee
Email address of referee
Procuring good references (both written and verbal) are an important aspect of your job search - the people you list will be called and asked to provide some information on your relationship to them, and give an indication of how you performed in your role when they knew you. Usually contact details for referee's are not required until the very latter interview stages - so you have the choice of providing their reference details on your resume or simply including a line in this section saying 'References available upon request'. Either way, it is customary for prospective employers or recruitment agents to ask your permission first before proceeding to contact the people you list here.
Some hints & tips on how to write a winning resume
Your resume should be thought of as your own personal shop-window, proudly displaying to prospective employers your skills and experience, as well as highlighting your key career achievements to date. It is your number one personal marketing tool, and its purpose is to engage with your potential employer with the primary objective of being offered the chance to interview for the role you are after.
One of the most difficult things about writing a resume is figuring out what makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd and why you would be a good fit for the job. If you can’t even answer these questions yourself, you’re going to have a difficult time convincing a prospective employer that you are the one they should hire. So, before you start writing your resume, sit down and make a list of your skills, strengths, interests and experience. Figure out what makes you special and how to define your own personal brand.
The most important thing when writing your resume is to make sure that it is relevant to the job you are applying for, and to showcase your skills and experience in a way that will have the hiring manager who is reading it jumping out of their chair in the effort to call you and confirm an interview time and date. The structure above provides the potential employer with the information that he or she wants - in the correct order - to help them make the decision to interview or not. Before using your resume to apply for roles, ensure that you have no spelling errors, and that it is well formatted and easy to read.
At the end of the day, no-one gets a job based on their resume alone - the purpose of the resume is to get the interview, no more, no less.
Does the mere thought of attending an interview start your palms sweating and fill you with a sense of dread? Don't panic! Being interviewed need not be an arduous experience, and with our interview tips and hints below, we'll have you feeling confident and ready to shine in no time at all!
Before the interview
One of the biggest challenges candidates face when they are being interviewed is being able to articulate their ability to do the job they have applied for, and this is often down to nerves. To lessen your anxiety, before the interview it is important you take time to practice selling yourself. Think about your top five strengths, weaknesses and accomplishments. Take some time prior to your interview to consider the types of questions the hiring manager may ask you during the interview and prepare how you plan to answer these questions. Write down your answers and then practice saying them out-loud - either to yourself in a mirror, or to a friend or family member. The more practice you have, the more atriculate and believable you will be during the interview.
Do your homework
Before you head to the interview, take time to familiarise yourself with the company you are interviewing with. Visit their website, read recent news articles they feature in, and even do some searches of your LinkedIn network to see if you have any connections to people who work within the company. Business leaders love applicants who can demonstrate that they know more about the company than just the position they are interviewing for - its shows that you are proactive, inquisitive and demonstrate an active interest in the organisation.
Dress for success
Depending on the role you are going for, choose your interview attire carefully. Even though you may have a personality which is larger than life (with the wardrobe to match), try to dress conservatively, at least for the first interview so that you can gauge the type of working environment that your prospective role will be in. No matter if its business casual or full corporate dress, make sure your clothes are clean and tidy - people often make subconscious judgment's based on appearances, so you want to do everything you can to impress and one of the easiest ways to show your professionalism is through what you wear. Dressing for success will not only give a great first impression, but will also bolster your confidence during the interview.
Leave plenty of time for travel
Unless your potential employer happens to be right next door to where you live, there's a good chance you will need to travel to reach your destination. Regardless of whether you plan to go by public transport or car, make sure you take some time before the interview to assess how long it will take you to get there, and also alternate routes in case of an emergency - you never know what obstacles you might face on the day! Many employers list punctuality as a key trait they are looking for in a candidate, and turning up late to your interview is a major blunder. Try to arrive at least 10 minutes before the interview - the advantage also gives you some added time while you are waiting for your meeting to begin to take a moment to relax and 'get in the zone'.
During the interview
Don’t forget to smile
Every second counts in an interview - even before you meet the hiring manager. From the minute you enter the workplace to the time you exit the building, it is important to appear friendly and outgoing (even if this is not something that comes naturally to you). Make an effort to smile and say hello to everyone you interact with - from the receptionist to the interviewer and anyone in between. Interviewers will often confer with support staff to see if their impression of you matches how you interacted with all who came in contact with you - in fact, many hires have been influenced by the receptionist or administrative staff.
Be aware of your body language
You only have one chance to make a positive first impression, and the way a potential employer perceives you in that split second can either make or break an job interview within the first five minutes. Appear friendly and outgoing, and make sure you have a firm, confident handshake from the beginning. Body language provides unconscious messages to your future employer and you can use it to your advantage. In the interview, if you are sitting, sit up straight with your hands visible either crossed lightly in your lap or on the table. Never lie in an interview. You will either get caught out immediately or once you have landed the job - either way dishonesty does’nt sit well with employers. It is better to be honest about your skills and be turned down for the job than to lie and be unable to execute it.
Demonstrate your confidence
Self-assurance and high self-esteem are sought-after attributes employers look for in potential candidates - so even if you tend to be introverted or shy usually, it is imperative that during your interview you make a concerted effort to muster as much confidence as you can. A big factor when it comes to overcoming your fear is by being prepared - even if you are not naturally a confident speaker, if you put in the ground work before you go by researching the company, the role and your interviewer, this will help you to remain calm during the interview. Even if you are not feeling confident you can still outwardly project confidence by maintaining eye contact at all times, and being aware of your posture - try to sit forward in your chair. Keep your voice level and be animated in your body language so that it demonstrates your interest and enthusiasm for the job. These actions can maintain or generate momentum during the interview. This is especially important when you are doing multiple interviews on the same day. The energy level must be as high for the last as it is for the first.
....but don't be arrogant
There is a fine line between displaying confidence and arrogance. Going into your interview with an aggressive, overbearing attitude may end up losing you the job, as no-one wants to work with someone who is difficult. Try to come across as confident but humble, and avoid behavior that comes across as cocky or know-it-all.
The most effective and successful job interviews are those where an active two-way conversation takes place, so throughout your interview remain alert and responsive. Where possible, ask questions about the role to show your interest & try to interject some of your own personality. This is also where you can show off some of the research from your initial knowledge gathering session. Remember, this is not just an interview for the hiring manager to get to know you, but it's also an opportunity for you to find out if it is really a place where you would like to work so use the time wisely. Get a feel for the company culture as well as the types of benefits you would enjoy as an employee if you were successful in the role. A few strategic questions can demonstrate your intelligence, analytical skills and assertiveness. Some great questions to ask are:
Who previously held the position, and what was their reason for leaving?
What does success look like in this role?
Does the company invest in training for its staff, if so is it internal learning development or offsite?
If I were successful in the role, are there opportunities for career advancement & development in the future?
I read in ____ that your company is expanding into Asia Pacific - does this mean, if I were to be successful in the role, there would be travel opportunities?
What is the team culture like? How many people would I be working with on a day to day basis?
Connect the dots
During the interview hiring managers will often ask you to outline your skills and experience from previous roles and then demonstrate how this experience directly relates to the roles and responsibilities outlined for this new job. In your answer, it’s important to show not only that you have completed the required task, but also how you went above and beyond the initial task required to deliver exceptional service. For example, perhaps you helped to solve a customer complaint, but what else did you do on top of this which benefited the company. Did you help train a fellow employee, or do something that created extra revenue, or save expenses etc - be specific with the amounts and how you accomplished that goal.
A common mistake job seekers make is to make negative comments about their previous job, manager or co-workers. By bringing this up during an interview, it could reflect badly on you and give the hiring manager a false or negative impression of you. It is for this reason that no matter what your reasons are for leaving your last job, during an interview is important to remain neutral. If you are asked directly why you have chosen to leave your previous employer, consider citing factors such wanting as a new career path, or better training opportunities.
Wrapping up the interview
Reiterate why you're perfect for the role
One of the best ways to wrap up an interview is to be open and upfront about your chances of being successful depending on your interview stage - either in securing another interview, or in securing the job outright. Ask a question such as, "having spoken at length about my experience, do you think my skills match your needs?" You may also want to ask about other applicants - how many other candidates have applied & where do you sit in terms of experience compared to them. This may seem up-front, but so long as you phrase it in a non-aggressive manner, this will demonstrate to your potential employer how serious you are about the role - and also give you an opportunity to counter any reservations that the hiring manager may have about you.
Clearly state your interest & ask about next steps
At the end of the interview, it should be apparent by the way you answered the questions as well as your enthusiasm throughout the meeting that you are interested in the role - however it never hurts to reiterate this to your interviewer. Don't go overboard by begging as this will come across as desperate - just state that you are definitely interested in the position and would like to know when the next step will take place.
After the interview
Stand out from the pack
A great way to differentiate yourself from other interviewee's is to send an email to the hiring manager after the interview. Don't write an essay - just a simple 2 paragraph email should suffice, where you thank the interviewer for his/her time, express your continued interest in the role, and opening further lines of communication should they have further queries or feedback about you.