By Kibet Tobias
The Bible tells us that our words have incredible power. You can use your tongue to bring blessings, curses, and life. Through words, you can hurt or heal. Your words can inform, educate, motivate, unite and can divide.
The same Bible, therefore, instructs us not to use foul or abusive language. Everything you say should be good, helpful and encouraging to others listening to you.
Whether or not you agree with it, our tongues can be the most challenging thing to control. Sometimes they may leave us with great regret if we are not careful. The good news is you can control the words you speak!
Remember you spend most of your time at the workplace and it is best to remain professional always to maintain a good reputation. You can’t afford to lose friends at work just because of some simple words or phrases that come out of your mouth.
In this article, I have compiled a few things you should never say at work and how to avoid them.
1. ‘That is not my job’
There are times your colleague or boss will ask you to do something that’s completely not related to what you do. It has happened to me, so I know.
Sometimes you may feel it is not your responsibility and you resist doing it.
So how do you react when you know you can’t do it? Do you pull the “This is not my job” response? If you say this, you will not portray yourself as a team player.
Instead, you can say something like “I have not done this before but I will do it for you.”
This is a bit professional as it indicates your willingness to collaborate and embrace new challenges.
2. ‘You look pregnant’
This is absolutely weird. You may have developed great friendships with your colleague to a point where you are free to ask or discuss anything with them. But the rule is, keep personal space between you.
Asking questions like “Are you pregnant?” doesn’t sound cool. It’s intrusive and disrespectful, to say the least. Just never say or mention something like this.
If your colleague is in that state, it is upon them to tell you when they are comfortable to. If you are wrong, things get really uncomfortable.
3. ‘I’m sorry’
Making mistakes is natural. There are several ways you can be in the wrong at work without even realizing it.
And when it happens, acknowledge your faults and apologize. This, however, does not mean just saying sorry openly. There’s a professional way of doing it. Say something like: “Excuse me. I know this was wrong, and it would not happen again.”
4. ‘That’s impossible’
This is one of the negative statements that can greatly affect your productivity in life.
You have probably heard successful people say ‘Everything is possible’. This is 100% true but why do you think yours is impossible?
Even if you have tried almost all the possible solutions and you think you are now exhausted, remember there are more than 1001 other options to do it better.
You can communicate through your words what you can do to improve the situation. Say something like “Let’s discuss and find out what’s possible under these situations.”
5. ‘I’m too busy’
I am not saying you are not a busy person. I know you have several things to accomplish within a short time. Sometimes you are faced with limited time that you are unable to attend to others. However, you should not use this as an excuse to avoid offering assistance to others.
Saying something like “I’m too busy” makes others feel less important. As a professional, your aim is to build and maintain positive relations with others.
Always, learn to exercise empathy when addressing other people.
In the end, you will realize that these are just but a few common phrases that come up in our everyday conversations at work but the trick is to be conscious and aware of the language you use. Be observant in meetings, presentations, and arguments and in no time you will be communicating positively with confidence.
A career objective is one of the sections that your CV must have in order to capture the recruiter’s attention.
The main purpose of a career objective is to show the employer who you are, your experience, strengths and educational qualifications.
“Ideally, your career objective should not be more than 6 sentences. Keep it specific, short, simple and clear,” says Margaret Komora, a Professional CV Writer at Corporate Staffing Services.
You need to ensure that it matches the position you are applying for and it highlights your skills in a way that makes you the perfect candidate for the job.
Having a well done career objective will help you impress the employer which will in turn help you land an interview.
In this article, find out how to write a great career objective that sells you as the best candidate for the job.
5 Things To Include In Your Career Objective
1. Who you are
When writing about who you are, you need to highlight a key strength that describes you. For example, “I am a highly organized…,” I am a highly reliable…,” “A devoted, highly efficient….”
This should always appear in the opening line of the career objective.
2. What do you do?
The next step is to talk about your profession. What are you currently practicing? What’s your background?
E.g. “I am a highly devoted Procurement Professional with a background in…”
Ensure that your profession matches the job you are applying for.
3. What are you good at?
It’s not enough to say that you are a devoted sales executive. You must explain to the employer which skills you have acquired along the way that makes you an expert in the profession.
Every employer will be keen to see what your skills are. What exactly can you do and how can you be of value to their company? Express that in the career objective.
For example, “I have acquired significant skills in procurement and sourcing, negotiation, supply planning and inventory management.
4. What Are Your Key achievements?
Your career objective should show the potential employer your achievements in similar position(s) that you have held before. This is what will sell you to an employer.
Employers want to know that you were a key factor to the success of your previous company in one way or another.
Therefore, highlight key achievements and milestones.
E.g. “ While working as a procurement Officer, I have registered remarkable success in ensuring timely delivery of results, improving customer satisfaction and meeting sales targets.”
5. What are your career goals?
As you conclude your career objective, state the career goals you have for yourself. Tell the employer where you want to go in your career and how the position will help you get there.
E.g. I am now seeking an opportunity in a suitable position in Accounting where I can implement sound Accounting Policies and interpret guidance in regards to financial transactions.
Sample Profile Summary
‘A dedicated Accounting Professional with a Bachelors degree in accounting option from XYZ University. I have gained knowledge in preparing financial reports, accounting and financial management standards, preparing accurate and timely reports and general ledger operations. I am seeking an internship with a well respected firm where my accounting knowledge will be utilized. I am committed to developing my career path as an Accountant and to expand on my work experience.’
‘A dedicated customer service manager with over 2 years experience in the customer service industry. I have a proven track record in resolving and reducing customer complaints and meeting customer service level expectations. I am seeking a position in Customer Service where my extensive experience will be further developed and utilized in accomplishing the ultimate marketing goals of the Organisation.’
Job search is not easy it takes time, dedication and patience. This is made more difficult by the poor decisions we make as job seekers. In this article see some of the mistakes job seekers make when it comes to job searching in today’s job market.
I had a friend who would not take an unpaid internship because they thought it was a waste of their time and they were too valuable to work for free. Yet, she spent two years searching for a job and complaining about how every job opening she came across required someone with work experience.
Had she taken one of the internships, she would have gained the experience that the employers were always asking for. This was her biggest job search mistake.
Mistakes like these are what make the job search process more difficult for some people. In this article, read advice from a recruiter on what you need to understand about the job market.
1. Qualifications though important are not everything.
Blame our parents or the 8-4-4 system but since we were young we were made to believe that ‘studying’ is a sure ticket to success and riches.
They went a step further to ‘recommend’ courses that we should pursue. So many people were told that Medicine, Teaching, Engineering etc are the best courses.
The end product is you pursuing a profession that has no value in the job market. Some of the courses that are in demand are saturated and graduates don’t get jobs that easily.
Even if the course you were told to take is marketable, if you have no passion for it then you cannot really succeed.
Then you have those already employed and pursuing an MBA to make them ‘competitive’ as opposed to first gaining skills or specializing. Take it from me, today’s employment market is more focused on what you can do more than which school you attended and the certificate you got. Read here on the best time to pursue an MBA
Many of us are fixated on getting certificates rather than taking the time to learn about the job. You become competitive because of the skills you possess or your area of specialization. Bottom line; be open to starting at the bottom and keep learning practical skills.
2. Job Search takes time and dedication.
When I was in campus I was lucky enough to have gotten a part time job. I am saying lucky because the job though not well paying or glamorous was the foundation of my career.
I continued with the same job after graduation and the culture shock of graduating and sending CVs without getting a response did not hit me as hard. At least I could afford bus fare and brown envelopes for making applications.
Job search is a marathon and not a sprint. Unless you are desperate and willing to take anything, getting a new job can take a year if not more. Why? Because it takes proper planning and execution.
Remember this is not the 80s where you could count the number of graduates. Almost all professions in Zambia are saturated. It might mean you taking an odd job here and there. It might mean that your first job will not be in your area of training or you will end up working for an SME instead of a multinational organisation. It might also mean taking unpaid internships.
Do anything you have to do but for God’s sake don’t be idle. Desiring a new or better job is very different from doing something about it every day. From what I now know, you should embrace humble beginnings.
3. What do you want out of your career?
I have done an informal survey on what Zambian professionals trained for vis-à-vis their current jobs and my finding is that majority are working in careers that don’t match what they studied for or trained on.
In the modern job market, nothing prevents a law graduate from becoming an excellent customer service executive and making a good living out of it. I know of engineers who are excelling in sales and marketing.
Today’s job market rewards those who know what they want and are not afraid to go for it. An undergraduate in whichever field should be considered as a starting point to more than one opportunity.
The above list is by no means exhaustive. My goal is to help you have a different mindset when it comes to job search by understanding the current job market. As the good Bible says, my people perish due to lack of knowledge. I hope you are now informed.
Just like anyone who has been looking or a job, you know better that to succeed in your job search, you need to improve your interview skills.
Better still, you need to know how to prepare for an interview
Practice makes perfect and the more you practice the better you will get at it.
I spoke to Ms. Lucy Mutungi, a Professional Interview Coach and she had this to say about how to prepare for any interview.
1. Consider an interview part you are not good at
What is that interview part that has always given you the chills? May be it the “Tell me about yourself” section or “What are your weaknesses?”
Whatever it is, there is always that part that you know has always failed you at any interview. Work on improving that. Go online and look for the answers to the common interview questions or ways to improve on your interview skills.
2. Make a list of your questions
When preparing for an interview, make a list of the common interview questions that you might be asked starting with “Tell us about yourself” to “Do you have any questions for us?”
About eight questions will do but the more you have to practice on the better.
Practice on how to answer these questions with confidence and prepare possible answers.
3. Conduct a mock interview
The best way to prepare for an interview, is to conduct a mock one on yourself. Choose someone you can trust and whose opinion you respect even if it’s something you would hate to hear
This could be a colleague, a friend, a relative or even a mentor. Someone who has experience in interviews, would be a better option though.
In case you don’t find someone to practice with, you could always DIY through your camera phone. It won’t be an easy thing to do but it will be something.
4. Consider the kind of interview you are attending
Chances are, interviews will always inform you ahead of time on the kind of an interview you will be attending.
Whether a phone, skype or a one on one interview.
The reason you need to think about the setting is to know what kind of preparation you are do and what you need.
Read more here on top 9 ways you can ace that skype interview.
5. Rate your self
Practicing thoroughly is the best way to get it right with interviews. After you have conducted your mock interview, rehearsed all the interview questions and answers, now you need to gauge your performance.
If you were the interviewer, how convincing would you say you would be? If you recorded yourself on a video camera, watch it again and see what you can improve.
If you have a friend taking you through the interview, ask them to give you an honest feedback and guide you on what you can improve.
Preparing for an interview should not be something that you only do when you have an interview coming up. Practicing even when you don’t have any interviewed lined up will take the pressure off when that time comes.
Albert Einstein once said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result. This is no different when you keep applying for hundreds of jobs with the same cover letter and hoping that this time round, you will miss the HR scrutiny and get a call for an interview.
In the current job market, we have thousand of job seekers all aiming for the same positions as you. It’s a sad fact but nonetheless one that requires you use your cover letter as the ultimate weapon. Otherwise you will just be another candidate complaining about how you have been applying for jobs but no positive response. Below are mistakes you could be making.
4 Cover Letter Mistakes You Keep Making
1. Using a Generic Cover Letter for Every Job
As a recruitment agency, we’ve always been in the front line advocating the need to have a tailored cover letter and fortunately, an impressive number of job seekers are giving it a little more thought nowadays.
But it’s far from over. You will find candidates insisting on using a cover letter meant for a Customer Service position to apply for Administration Assistant Jobs or one for an Accounts Assistant in Finance Officer Jobs. While the jobs may appear similar, they are all totally different; they have different job descriptions, roles and responsibilities and require different set of skills.
Solution: It may take a lot of work to tailor a cover letter for every single job, but if you really want to get hired, then you have to be specific in your cover letter. Remember the point of having a cover letter is you want to show the HR you have the qualifications for that ‘Particular job”
2. Putting the “Wrong Information”
A CV and a Cover Letter are two totally different documents which should be addressed differently.
Don’t start explaining why you quit your last job or why you were fired on the second paragraph of your cover letter. In an interview when the HR wants to know these particulars, you will get the chance to explain yourself, but doing so in a cover letter is a big no no!
A little secret, recruiters and employers out there do not want to hear why you left your past or current jobs or why you can’t get along with your boss at the application stage. They want to hear about your now and future, and how you are going to become an asset to their company.
3. Having more than one page
A common question we normally receive is, “How long should a cover letter be?”
The answer to this is keep it to one page. Highlight your most relevant qualifications for the job and what you have to offer the employer and that’s about it. Truth of the matter is, you have no business having two pages or three pages cover letter unless you are listing things that should not even be highlighted.
Think of the HR manager and how many job applications she or he has to go through for one single job. Do they have the time and luxury to skim through all that?
4. It’s all in the details
An assumption or a small mistake may appear minute to you, but to a HR professional, it makes all the difference.
For starters, think about the grave spelling mistakes and typos. Always re-read your application before hitting the send button to make sure you don’t have any of this. Tell a friend to read your document for you because most times as is the norm, we do not see our own mistakes.
Secondly, pay attention to what you are sending to the HR. How many times have you applied for a job only to realize you addressed the wrong company? It’s silly, right? But it does happen and mainly because you’ve been using the same old cover letter for every job, or it was just a clumsy mistake. There’s no reversing the damage, so make sure this doesn’t happen in your next application.
Finally, remember your cover letter should always answer the one question that employers are looking for;”Why should I hire this person?”
Being jobless is one stage of life everyone goes through, it is always filled with frustrations,long length prayers and a lot of tarmacking visiting potential employers and dropping hundreds of applications and never getting job interviews .Every job seeker has had almost similar struggles when searching for a first job.
1. Fresh graduates’ mindset
Fresh college and university graduates always have the idea that they are the most viable candidates for jobs,this is understandable considering they have just achieved certificates that brings them a step closer to their dream jobs however to their surprise they are shocked to realize that there are other graduates that are also competing for the same positions as they are, some with even more experience and academic qualifications than them.
2. Applying for Jobs that do not fit description
After a futile job search there comes a time that we result to plan B; applying for jobs that they do not fit the description. After searching for dream jobs, one is hit by the reality of scarcity of jobs and therefore you apply for any entry level jobs that comes your way, this is where most people land their first jobs
3. Regular Cyber visits
Every job seeker knows that a cyber is their workplace ,they will always visit there to check the latest jobs on recruitment sites and even on company websites .Cyber is also the place you make bulk copies of your academic certificates and CVs at a fair cost as you proceed to dropping your application papers to potential employers.
4. Completing an Application
Some jobs have lengthy processes of application, even if it’s an internship, you have to register to their career portal and key in details that takes almost haalf an hour, but after finally completing the process, you cannot afford keeping your phone away just in case you get shortlisted and end up missing the historical interview invitation phone call.
5. Getting an interview Appointment
This is always a game changer, every phone call that is from a strange number is always received with a lot of hopes and high spirits, luckily one of the phone call turns out to be an interview invitations and immediately wild thoughts start streaming your minds on how the job will change your mind, this is a huge breakthrough in your job search.
6. The interview Day
A first interview is always an eye opener since you have no prior experience of how an interview goes through, most people are scared of how they will present themselves or even get scared in the waiting room due to the many number of sharply dressed candidates who are also being interviewed for the same position, it’s even scary to hear people say that its someone in the organization who told them to apply for the same job. No matter the circumstance the way you present yourself determines if you impress the interviewers.
7. The Job Offer
This is what changes your life, after weeks and months of tarmacking you finally land a job that pays fairly well and now you are over the moon, you have a wardrobe change, move to a new apartment and even give your parents a piece of mind since you do not borrow them money.
Do you apply for numerous jobs but never get invited for a job interview? Are employers and recruiters not responding your job applications? Is your job search process resulting into constant frustrations?
You are not alone!
Many people complain about not hearing back after a job application. You send in your CV for a job you believe you meet qualifications for, only never to get a reply. When this continues for months or even years, you start to wonder what could be wrong.
In this post, I shall focus on one of the common reasons job seekers don’t get called for interviews. There are various reasons why, but today’s focus will be on your CV. Remember that a CV is the one document that matters most during a job application.
It chronicles your career history and tells recruiters if you are qualified for a position or not. It’s then only natural that it should be faultless, deliver on requirements and effectively communicate your suitability.
1. It uses paragraphs instead of lists
How do you describe your previous roles? How do you tell the recruiter about the duties and responsibilities you held? Do you use paragraphs or lists?
If you use paragraphs to explain what you did in your previous positions, you are going about CV writing all wrong. Employers and recruiters don’t have time to read through a long paragraph of text. They want to see your duties and responsibilities in bullet points, just like they appear in the Job Description.
Using lists makes your CV easier to read, highlights the most important aspects of your experience, and appeals more to employers and recruiters. It also makes it easy for someone to see your qualifications. If you have been using paragraphs, start using bullets on lists from today.
2. Important employment details are missing
While education plays an important role in the recruitment process, your experience is the most important factor. An employer will hire someone who lacks the education but has experience, and will disregard someone with top education but lacks in experience.
This then means that your CV must be clear on previous employment details. Under your work experience section, ensure you include these details for every position held;
- Job Title
- Period worked (e.g 6 months or 1 year 3 months)
- Start and End Dates
- Name of Company where you worked
- Duties & Responsibilities
- At least 2 achievements
3. It lacks keywords for the job in question
In a previous post here, I mentioned the importance of using keywords in your CV. It is not enough that you send in a CV as an application for a new job opening, it needs to also match the job in question. To achieve this, minor editing should be done to include similar terms as those used in the job description.
But don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that you should lie about your qualifications or include terms you are not familiar with. What this means is that you should consider using synonyms and related terms. Job titles differ from one company to the other, but the duties and responsibilities are relatively the same.
For a long time John Achogo has been attending interviews but he always gets confused on whether to shake hands with the interviewers or not.
“I have always felt the need to shake hands in an interview but when I get to the room I stand there and do nothing. My introduction is usually verbal. The few times I have tried handshakes always ended up awkward. Could I be losing out on jobs because of a handshake? In the case of a panel interview should I shake hands with everyone? What is the right way to introduce myself?” he writes in an email.
Handshakes are not everyone’s cup of tea. During an interview, most candidates opt not to shake hands because they are uncertain of how to go about it.
This being the case, should you shake hands with the interviewer or not?
The best way is to let the interviewer guide you. There are some who are not comfortable shaking hands while some will even stand up and stretch their hand to you. Once you enter into an interview room, read the interviewers actions and take it from there.
Don Varney from Expert Village says that after making eye contact with the interviewer the next important step is to give a handshake.
“Most people sometimes feel that if they have a very strong handshake they would be well noticed by the interviewer. But this is not the case,” he remarks.
Mr. Varney advises that. “You need a firm handshake. Firm does not mean that I’m going to squeeze your hand and break it but it also doesn’t mean that it is limp and soft. It’s a nice firm handshake.”
According to him the perfect handshake can be described as one done with dry palms, a firm grip, two to three shakes, eye contact and a smile.
What if it is a panel interview ? Do you enter the room and stretch your hand to each one of them?
It is not wise to enter the room and greet everyone depending on the time of day.
After that the panel will let the interview continue as planned. They are conscious about time so allowing you to shake everyone’s hand will not save on time. For example enter the room and say ‘Good Morning’ wait for the response and follow their lead.
Giving a handshake does not present an opportunity to get personal with the interviewer or narrating everything that happened before you got to the interview.
In conclusion, one goes into an interview room without knowing the type of personalities to expect. So, if you are planning to offer a firm handshake, ensure your hands are dry and your nails are clean.
So you have written a beautiful Cover Letter and you cannot wait to send it to potential employers. Before you do there are a few things that you need to double check to ensure you got them right.
In this article see some of the things you need to double check before sending out your job application.
1. The Hiring Manager’s Name
Yes, before you send that beautifully written cover letter you need to double check that you have used the right name. You do not want to address your letter to the wrong person.
It is important to use the person’s name as opposed to writing Dear Sir/Madam or to whom it may concern. This will make the hiring manager know that you spent the time to research on the organisation.
It is equally important that you do not misspell the name of the person you are addressing the Cover Letter to. You also need to ensure that you use the right title. You do not want to call someone MS when she is a Mrs. If you are not sure about the correct title it is better to avoid using it all together.
2. The Organisation’s Name
The one thing you have to ensure you get right is the company name. Before you send out your application it is important that you check that the company name you have used is correct.
You need to ensure that the spelling is correct and that you have used the full name of the company. For example, if it has a Ltd at the end.
Otherwise, how can someone hire you when you cannot even spell their name correctly?
3. Your Contact Information
Surprisingly, most people get this wrong. If your contact details are not correct it will be very difficult for the hiring manager to get back to you when it comes to inviting you for an interview. This means they will move on to the next person.
You need to ensure that you have used the correct telephone number and email and that you have access to both. Your number needs to be working and your email should not be one you forgot the password to.
You might be wondering how one gets the date wrong but you would be surprised how many people send out applications with the wrong dates. This mostly happens when you have used the same Cover Letter for every job you apply for which is not a good thing.
Something that might seem small like having 3/6/2016 instead of 6/3/2016 can prevent you from getting the job. This shows the recruiter that you are careless and no one wants to hire a careless person.
Most organisations have a limit as to how many words your letter can have and as such you should ensure that your Cover Letter is not too long.
You do not want to bore the hiring manager. Ideally, a cover letter is supposed to be short. Try and have only information that is relevant to the job in the cover letter you send.
If your cover letter is illegible and looks terrible you should be very sure that the hiring manager will throw your application out.
This is because no one wants to struggle reading something that has been poorly formatted. Therefore, it is important that you keep you Cover Letter clean and simple to read.
7. Spelling and Grammar
This is a very important part of checking your Cover Letter. You should never send out an application with poor grammar and spelling mistakes. This will automatically disqualify you for the position.
Having spelling and grammar mistakes will show the hiring manager that you have a poor command of the language and that you are careless because you failed to rectify those mistakes.
Always proofread your Cover Letter before sending or better yet give it to someone else to double check.
Doing this might not guarantee you the position but it will ensure your application is at least considered which is what every job seeker wants. So the next time you send a cover letter to be sure to double check the following.
A CV is a proposal or a pitch that goes before you to sell you to a potential employer. It is meant to speak for you and present you as a professional absolutely capable in carrying out the job you are applying for.
For the CV to act as the perfect pitch, it needs to present the picture of a perfectly capable professional with unmatchable experience and expertise.
An unimpeachable CV needs to foot the ability of being professional bringing out meaningful and relevant information regarding your career such as your education background, experience in your area of specialization and the track record of accomplishments you have acquired.
Very few CVs meet these criteria. The mistakes a candidate makes on the CV are what make a potential employer think twice about calling you for that interview.
1. Having a peculiar email address
There is nothing that screams unprofessionalism than having an email address that looks funny. The email addresses outlined in the contact details on your CV or ones used to send out applications need to be professional. An email like [email protected] or [email protected] is definitely not professional.
Seek to use your official names for email addresses with dots and commas and numbers to make it more unique. An email like [email protected] is a lot better.
2. Obvious spelling mistakes
There is nothing as off putting as a CV that has obvious spelling and grammatical mistakes that can be easily avoided. It is important to read and reread your CV to rid it of these errors as such present you as careless and one who cannot take keen interest on the little things. As such you might miss out on job opportunities.
3. Using unusual styling
Thinking that one needs to make the CV stand out by all means, there are candidates who add all sorts of colors to the template of the CV and use very unprofessional font types when doing it complete with images.
It is important to use a very professional font like Times New Roman, Calibri or Palatino Linotype and corporate colors like Blue or Purple can be used subtly be used to kill the monotony to present you as a serious and professional candidate.
4. Being to brief on the CV
In a bid to make the CV short and ‘concise’, there are people who think that doing away with important elements like duties and responsibilities and only having the position, the place of work and duration of work is what makes it more presentable.
On the contrary, this presents you as a laid back individual who is not serious about what he or she is looking for.
It is very important to have the duties and responsibilities clearly outlined. However, there is a catch. Not all roles need to be outlined in the CV.
Instead, capitalize on the most specific duties relevant to the career you are in as opposed to including even the most general ones like “Offering help to my team members when required to.
5. Having an overly long CV
Individuals with over 10 years of experience and have worked for more than 5 organizations tend to have a longer CV than those who possess an experience of between 1 to 9 years. In most cases, these CVs go to over 5 pages which are very unnecessary.
Most employers tend to look at the three most recent experiences and ignore the rest. What one has the most recent experience in is what is considered to be an expert in.
Avoid the mistakes above and your CV will most definitely land you the interview that will edge you closer to that dream job.