Dispelling job search and career myths

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A job seeker being interviewed. Having up-to-date information will ensure that the jobs you get are a true match for you.

What you need to know:

  • Salary information normally appears in the cover letter, but you should not include it unless you are specifically asked to do so. Following instructions on the advertisement should guide you on where you should include such information.

There are some basic questions and myths that bother fresh job seekers. They are generally based on ignorance, and this is not surprising as many colleges and universities hardly equip students with useful job search and career knowledge before releasing them into the job market.

I came across a number of them during my time at a recruitment agency and I continue to do so. Allow me to review some of the most common:

How long after an interview should I make a follow-up call?

The most appropriate time to find out about the status of the recruitment is after two weeks. By then, the company should have completed the rest of the interviews and gone through a selection sitting.

Should I pay a recruitment company for the job search?

In an earlier article, I wrote about recruitment companies and the importance of having your CV kept in their databases. Unfortunately, some recruitment companies take advantage of the desperation in job seekers and ask for a fee. Still, there are many others that do not charge any fees apart from what is agreed between them and the employer, in which case the recruitment company will take your first month’s salary through the employer. This is done after you have secured the job.

Is my CV and cover letter the problem?

Yes and no. These documents act as a stepping stone towards getting an interview. Getting a job depends on a combination of many factors, such as having the right qualifications and others that will be specified in the advert.

Should I inform my referees each time I am searching for a job?

Yes. Having constant communication with your referees is important to ensure that they are in the know about each job that you have applied for lest they become confused when a potential eventually calls.

How frequently should I update my documents?

Having up-to-date information will ensure that the jobs you get are a true match for you.

Should I discuss salary before taking a job? What is the best time to discuss this?

Discussing salary is a tricky subject. It should be done before you take up the job to avoid disappointment when you get offered less than what you had expected. Salary discussion should ideally be done in the later stages of the recruitment and not too early. Knowing beforehand what you want helps in the negotiations.

How should I seek help from my networks?

Spreading word through your networks is similar to pitching a product to a prospective client. The difference here will be that you are the product and the client is the network.

Going about this requires tact and consideration. Tact means that you find an appropriate time, place, and means. Hounding your contacts at a bar is not tactful, neither is calling them at midnight.

Should I include a family member as my referee?

No. Referees must be people who can attest to your capabilities and work ethics without bias. References from family will be glowing and without merit.

Ideally, your referees should include your supervisors or managers who can remember you and the work you did for them.

Should I include salary in my CV or cover letter?

Salary information normally appears in the cover letter, but you should not include it unless you are specifically asked to do so. Following instructions on the advertisement should guide you on where you should include such information.

Should I include my ID or PIN number in the CV?

Absolutely not! Many people give extremely personal information on their job application documents. Such information is not necessary unless specifically demanded. You should be aware that in this digital age, any information you send on email might be intercepted by con artists to impersonate you or even steal from you.

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