At Flow Communications, we receive emails every day from graduates hoping to get their first jobs, and from students asking for work placements to complete their studies.
What does it take for a person to be considered for a junior or entry-level position at our company? What are the qualities, skills and other factors we are looking for that make a person stand out from the rest, and as a result get hired?
We canvassed those in our management team responsible for hiring to provide some tips.
1. Never send a generic application
Firstly, young job hunters need to demonstrate an approach that suggests what they bring to the table – why should we consider you over anyone else? Show us in your application a little about yourself, and why you would be a good fit for us.
We receive so many generic applications that just say, “Dear Sir/Madam, I am looking for a job in your company.” These letters don’t show us that you are interested in us at all. Make an effort – find out about the company and the people who work there, and tell us what you like about it and how you could contribute.
We recommend you never send another generic application letter again. We receive hundreds each week, and unfortunately don’t give them a second glance because they aren’t personal, don’t tell us anything about you, and we simply haven’t got time to engage further and find out more. Make it easy for us by showing us who you are and what you could contribute to our company.
Sometimes, this is a case of “flattery gets you everywhere”. We want you to know who we are. I remember someone applying to us for an accounting position. At her interview, she wore pink shoes. Our corporate colour is pink; she ended up getting the job.
2. Stand out from the crowd
Perhaps try to think of a way to apply for a job that isn’t a cover letter and a resumé, that would make you stand out. “For example, a PR person who applies for a job with a media release would catch my eye,” says Caroline Smith, the head of our PR team. Likewise, good engagement with our brand on Twitter or Facebook would appeal to our social media manager.
Our head of content, Edwina van der Burg, says: “I rarely get an email with a nice cover letter, just a blank mail with a CV attached, which makes me lose interest. Time and effort taken in an application is what I look for.”
3. Demonstrate your qualifications, experience and personality
Ideally, you need stand-out credentials, including your qualifications plus some work placements while studying. Our Cape Town manager, Sarah-Jane Viljoen, says, “I would look for intelligence, hunger and a positive personality.”
4. Ensure your application is error free
Make sure there are no mistakes in your application. “The most important thing is a spotless email with no mistakes and no typos, where the applicant has done some research on the company and knows why they want to work there in particular,” says Flow’s managing director, Tiffany Turkington-Palmer.
Our company is called Flow Communications, for example. If someone writes a note to us saying they’d like to work at “Flow Communication”, we know they don’t pay much attention to detail. We’ve even seen letters to us addressed to a totally different company altogether!
5. Send a short, high-impact CV
Keep your CV short and to the point. “I suggest a nicely designed and edited CV of no more than two pages,” recommends our head of design, Elmarie Nel.
6. Be resilient
Be resilient and don’t take no for an answer. If you really want to work at a place, send mails to the managing director, manager of the division you want to work in, and the head of human resources. Keep demonstrating ways you’d be a great employee. Even offer to work for free – an unpaid internship is a good way to get into a company and get some experience.
7. Timing is key
Unfortunately, at the moment most companies aren’t hiring, so won’t give your application a second look (which is why you need to be resilient and not take no for an answer). “So a lot of actually getting a job is related to luck and good timing,” points out the head of our project management team, Gail Cameron.