In 2015, the global community set new targets for sustainable development. Among them, the objective of significantly reducing the percentage of youth not in employment, education or training by 2020, as part of targets under Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8. 2020 is here with time running out for achieving the goals set forth on decent work and economic growth, alongside other issues. For the approximately 13.7% of Ghanaians who the International Labour Organisation estimates were unemployed in 2019,it is obvious that academic credentials alone do not guarantee a job. To find a job, one needs relevant skill sets; job search and job application skills and know-how in leveraging digital tools to stand out from the competition. Refining and targeting one’s job search is especially important in a landscape like Ghana’s, with limited viable job opportunities.
As part of its digital skills and career development efforts, Circumspecte partnered with the New Career Platform and JobnetAfrica to organise a public workshop aimed at equipping job seekers with essential job search skills for exploring Ghana and Africa’s job market. Led by Circumspecte founder Jemila Abdulai and Minoek Wijs of JobNetAfrica, the interactive workshop provided in-depth insight into 21st century job search tools, skills and strategies for a highly engaged audience of about 50 job seekers on February 28, 2020.
Held at the SB Incubator premises, the program started with a morning session on curriculum vitae (CV) and resume writing; online job applications; email etiquette; and networking. Jemila kickstarted the conversation with the question ‘Why and how do you start job searching?’. In response, participants noted that resumes and cover letters are essential job search tools. Others also mentioned identifying an ideal job that will be a good fit for one’s interest, experience and personality and making a list of the companies they would want to apply to. While some participants were just entering the job market as recent graduates, a couple were considering a career transition into new industries. With these experiences setting the tone for the day, Jemila proceeded to share some tips on where to job search. Participants were advised to cast their nets wide when job searching and take advantage of various online job search platforms including professional and academic mailing lists; job search portals like Jobberman; the job section of company websites; and Human Resource (HR) recruiting agencies. She also introduced them to lesser-utilised job search tools and tips in the Ghanaian landscape, such as informational interviews and LinkedIn InMail.
With a new list of job search platforms to explore, the digital skills trainer guided workshop participants through preparing a job application, beginning with insights on the structure, purpose and key differences of a CV and resume. Jemila emphasised that a good CV or resume should be able to sell you as a candidate; set the tone for the conversation; and advocate for you when you are not physically present with a recruiter. In this regard, there are a number of things to consider for creating a topnotch CV or resume or improving an existing resume. On the elements to avoid, Jemila explained why jargon and abbreviations should be used sparingly. She also advised participants to structure the information provided on their work experience and previous employment along responsibilities, accomplishments, and results. After a round of audience questions and clarifications, Jemila moved the discussion to networking; forging professional connections on LinkedIn and beyond; and writing compelling introduction emails or direct messages. Here too, specific examples were provided on ‘dos and don’ts’ to offer practical insights to the job-seekers. She concluded her segment by providing a job application checklist to assist the job seekers on their journey.
Besides learning about how to effectively job search online and prepare job applications apply for jobs workshop participants had the opportunity to see the job search process from a recruiter’s perspective. As a recruiter, Mineok Wijs reviews between 60-100 CVs daily, each in an average of 6 seconds. She shared great insights on the most important things to have in a job search skills toolkit, as well as the importance of organisational cultural fit between a prospective employer and employee. The recruiter then moved on to discuss how improper grammar and typos can affect the meaning and clarity of resume content, and negatively affect a job candidate’s chances.
For recruiters like Minoek, LinkedIn is a valuable tool for finding job candidates; a fact she emphasised throughout her presentation. With a live demonstration, Mineok gave out tactical tips on how to use LinkedIn to search for jobs or expand one’s professional network. She urged participants to research the companies they are interested in and follow them on LinkedIn. This will help them stay in the know with company news and remain informed on new positions as they become available. To improve one’s visibility on the professional network, she also advised the job seekers to update their profiles regularly, add a professional profile photo, and include notable skills.
To add to their job search toolbox, participants were enlightened on how to build and perfect a 30-second elevator pitch that would pique the interest of a prospective employer. An ideal elevator pitch ought to be natural and authentic. It must express an intent, skills and individual traits that make one standout as a professional or job candidate. It should also end with a clear ask – for instance, a request to connect on LinkedIn or be notified of opportunities within a company. With tips in hand, the workshop participants broke off into groups to test drive their skills with two exercises. First, they played the role of a recruiter by reviewing each other’s resumes and giving out constructive feedback. Then, they delivered their elevator pitches and received suggestions on how to improve.
Jemila and Minoek also provided feedback, with additional insights from resource persons Ileen Wilke and Joanna Chemel with the New Career Platform, and Circumspecte skills trainer Beatrice Anowah Brew. The workshop came to an end with a lot of excitement from participants as they shared what they had learned and how it will help them explore Ghana’s job market and develop their careers. Catch some of their feedback in the video below.
Like what you read? Use the hashtag #ThriveWithDigital to check out what others shared about the skills workshop.
Perfect Dadugblor is an entry-level Communications and PR professional who manages social media for various organizations. A Circumspecte guest writer, she has a track record of creating engaging content to help her clients achieve strategic marketing goals.
Circumspecte is a digital platform and company dedicated to capturing meaningful insights, teaching digital skills, spurring interaction and inspiring creative action on/for/by Africa(ns). Created in 2007, we offer business and digital marketing services, create projects, and embark on partnerships which influence the experience and narrative around Africa and Africans. We also create offline experiences geared at sparking conversations, connections, and social impact.