Martinette Van Wymeersch, Director of Sinakho Staffshop, was invited by the The Export Credit Insurance Corporation of South Africa SOC Ltd (ECIC), a wholly owned corporation of the DTI, to assist their graduates-in-training with career and interview advice.
We would like to thank Gertrude Mvula (HR) and Noluthando Mkhathaza (Head of Finance) for the opportunity and warm welcome.
We would also like to share some of Martinette’s advice with other career seekers!
You are in the beginning of your career and the most important advice I want to give you in terms of managing and directing your careers is;
• Chase the experience and not the money.
• When you have the experience the money will follow.
Make sure your CV is on a popular job portal e.g. Career Junction, Pnet and Careers 24. Your CV must be compiled in a professional manner and without spelling mistakes.
Only apply for positions that you qualify for, otherwise you will become despondent.
Follow up telephonically with the relevant recruitment companies; we do not always get a notification of the application.
Be geographically flexible, if you are determined to remain in one particular area you will be limiting yourself.
Research the job portals and see which agencies are worth contacting. We all specialize in certain areas.
Make a professional call and ask if you can submit your CV.
Keep your ITC record clear it shows how responsible you are with your finances, can the company trust you with theirs?
Never burn any bridges; potential employers do references and be careful with what you post on social media (Facebook, twitter, and Instagram) potential employers are reluctant to hire social animals.
You determine your own success with a can do attitude and hard work. Be prepared to go the extra mile.
In terms of your CV
Place a professional photo on your CV, not those where you are having a drink, on the beach or your graduation or wedding photo.
There should be no spelling mistakes on your CV. Applicants describe themselves on the CV’s as detail orientated, professional, meticulous etc. yet they often neglect to do a spell check. This creates a very bad impression.
It is important to do a cover letter, specify where you are heading with your career and what you can offer. A cover letter should be precise and not too long.
When attending an interview
Prepare yourself properly for the interview, do thorough research on the company where you are attending the interview. What are their core activities, who do they supply to whom, how are they doing the market etc.
Understand the content of the position, what is the purpose of the role and who will I report to. What will be my core functions?
Job titles can be misleading, look at the size of the concern. A Financial Accountant at a listed company where the finance department consists of 60 staff members will have very different level of responsibility to a Financial Accountant that is working for a small company where the financial department consists of 2 staff members. Carefully look at the content of the position. Will the experience gained enhance my career?
- Watch your body language, are you sitting up straight or lying in your chair. Don’t chew gum or forget to switch off your cellphone.
- Do not be unrealistic about career growth. Often candidates over emphasise growth, but a company operates in a specific market, it is often difficult to guarantee growth. The question is also is the candidate acquiring new skills to justify the growth they are so desperately seeking.
- Emphasise what you can contribute to the company, not just what is in it for me. What value will you add?
- Do not talk about salary or benefits during the first interview, first establish if the company is interested, there is always an opportunity during the second interview.
- Be on time for the interview. Take in consideration travel time, parking etc. It creates a very unprofessional impression if you are late, it might convey an impression that the interview was not important enough to ensure that you are on time.
- Do not oversell. Make eye contact during the interview, know when to keep quiet and listen to the questions. Do not elaborate on issues that are not relevant.
- Dress for success. Look the part but don’t overdo it, dress corporate; avoid short skirts, low cut dresses, too much make-up etc.
How to dress for an interview
A first impression is made in the first 30 seconds. The golden rule is to be tidy, smart, relatively conservative and understated.
When deciding how to dress for an interview it is always best to know what the company’s dress code is. If dressed inappropriately you can damage your chances of being successful.
Pay attention to the details – your nails, accessories and shoes.
Consider the personality and behavior required in the position you are considered for i.e. is the position requiring an extrovert, a detailed or innovative or creative person?
If you are going through a recruiter ask them the dress code and what you should expect.
Remember you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.
- Be authentic, upbeat, focused, confident, candid, and concise. Once the interview starts, the key to success is the quality and delivery of your responses. Your goal should always be authenticity, responding truthfully to interview questions.
- At the same time, your goal is to get to the next interview, so you’ll want to provide focused responses that showcase your skills, experience and fit. Provide solid examples of solutions and accomplishments – but keep your responses short and to the point.