By Simon

After three to four years of hard work, you finally did it; you graduated! It feels good to have that degree certificate in your folder. Not a day goes by without you looking through those certificates and wondering what the world holds for you. The plan is to take it easy this Christmas, catch up on all those many hours of lost sleep then probably by mid-January, you will know what to do with yourself.

The many stories of how guys struggle with getting jobs, unanswered applications, endless tarmacking and polite regret letters go through your mind. What about the girls? Will they like you? Will you get a good one?

All these thoughts bring butterflies to your stomach. Therefore, today we discuss how you can brace yourself for the times ahead.

 Critical lesson

In my childhood, my late dad would once in a while take us out fishing on River Thegu on the slopes of Mt Kenya (now only a small shadow of what it was). As we set up our equipment, he would tell us to look for 12 worms each then we would get to sit on a carefully selected site, bait our hooks and get on with fishing. I didn’t like worms back then. I was fonder of sweets, biscuits and sausages. Sometimes I tried these as bait, but they didn’t catch the interest of any fish. It was the worms that always worked.

Looking back at this, I learned a critical lesson; that it always pays to bait the hook that suits the fish. So how does this apply to the challenges you will face?

Every year, hundreds of thousands set out in search of jobs. Every vacancy is met with thousands of interested applications. If you go this way, yours will always be one of the thousands that don’t even get out of the envelope. You need to adopt better approaches to job hunting.

First, get to understand the desires of would-be employers: The calibre of staff they desire, the level and diversity of skill they would find helpful and where they are likely to look for it.

 The fundamental elements

Just like in fishing, there are three fundamental elements you need to get right to land the job you desire — the product, packaging and positioning. As a baseline, you need to develop your product. For example, what extras are you bringing on board? Take up some professional evening classes and study to get more skills. Go out of your way to learn new things. Any good employer wants a team of guys with a diversity of skills, so do not be content with that degree or diploma.

 Packaging is a whole mix of things, but it primarily involves putting together an attractive and focused resume. This acts as your face to an employer who has never seen you. Always tweak the resume to suit a particular job. Use neat and professional fonts. Make it brief and sweet, but rich in content. Get credible referees; don’t just give names, addresses and phone numbers. Get people with good titles working for credible companies because people will always judge you by the company you keep.

 Positioning is the third critical element in job hunting. The recruitment terrain has changed. Human resource managers don’t just sit and wait for applications. They are always recruiting; in supermarkets, at restaurants, on Sundays at social events and in between flights. This is what makes packaging an important element in job hunting. Your dressing, mannerisms, attitude and reactions to different situations can get a potential employer asking for your resume.

Recruitment through networks

Knowing that people are always recruiting will get you dressing decently. This does not mean always putting on a suit, but it could mean dropping those jeans that expose half of your behind. Be courteous when dealing with people and hang out in the right places — malls, family and professional events and concerts.

Good employers recruit through their friends, contacts and through networking. So hang out in the right places, with the right people and put the word out to your friends, relatives and people you meet and it won’t be long before you start swirling round on a comfortable seat in a good office.

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