At JumpStart and JumpCo we pride ourselves on choosing high-potential youth for our learnerships and internships. Tutors and trainees are supported with modest stipends and are encouraged to complete their qualifications. Some who demonstrate particular ability and aptitude are helped with StudyAssist bursaries provided by the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation, SASOL, the Buyani Trust and other donors.
Soft skills, life skills and hard work
Work readiness requires a combination of life skills, qualifications, confidence and technical abilities. Getting through a job interview requires soft skills and common sense! Azraa Noah has interviewed scores of people in her time as talent manager. She shares her reflections on how best to prepare for and present yourself at an interview.
Do your research
Before applying for the position, find out about the company. Read their webpage and blog. Research what the competition says about the organisation in the news. Know what industry related salaries are and set realistic expectations. Put some thought into the job’s requirements and decide whether the company’s product and services align with your own goals. Check out the company’s values. Will you fit in with the organisation? For example it will never be easy for a vegan to work happily in a butchery or leather goods shop.
Make a good first impression
Does the first impression start with polished shoes at your interview? Or choosing not to drag on a cigarette while you wait outside? Those things count, of course, but your first impression starts with the first email or their online application form. Take the time to punctuate properly and to check your spelling and grammar. Why would a company employ you if you don’t take pride in your correspondence with them?
Your Cover Letter
Your cover letter is a brief introduction in the body of the email expressing your interest in the position. The correspondence indicates your ability to express yourself coherently and shows an alignment with your abilities and the position being advertised. Use simple, clear language and a respectful tone. “See attached” is unlikely to secure you the interview!
About your CV
Ensure that your CV is up to date and correct. Don’t use capital letters or fancy fonts. Keep it clean – no images or logos. Stick to the facts. Stick to two pages. If you have no work experience, include information about community engagements where you showed leadership, improved your skills or learned about teamwork such as a church choir, volunteer activities or sports team.
Answer the phone!
At some point in the process you might receive a phone call – perhaps to reschedule an appointment or to check that you know which entrance to use. A phone call is your chance to convey that you are well spoken and that you use an appropriate tone of voice.
A good rule of thumb is to treat everybody who calls you as a potential ally on your career path. That way you’ll always sound interested and friendly. Remember to thank the person for contacting you – even if they communicate that the job is not for you. Situations change and if you were a short-listed candidate the way you handle rejection might open a door down the line.
Read whatever you write as if you were your own prospective boss. How would you feel if somebody sent you a text or WhatsApp using the informal “alryt” or “ohkay”? Write in full sentences with correct use of capitals, punctuation and spelling. If you show attention to detail at this level and a courteous tone you improve your chances at selection.
Dress like a pro
You do not need to go to the salon or buy a brand new outfit to look groomed and smart. Err on the side of formal with a shirt and tie for men, and a dress below the knees for women. High-fashion torn jeans and a lot of perfume or cologne might impress your friends, but consider the message that such attire conveys to a future supervisor. Ensure that your personal hygiene is on point too. You don’t want to knock your interviewer out with bad breath!
Arrive on time, timing your arrival to five minutes before your scheduled appointment. Be aware that while you are waiting future colleagues might be observing your demeanour and behaviour, so spit out your gum, switch off your phone and don’t slouch. Practice deep breathing to calm your nerves instead of fiddling with your hair, taking rings on and off, or playing on your phone. Act in your own best interests to sell yourself and your skills. Greet people with a smile and be ready to respond to a handshake (or elbow bump) if it’s offered.
While you wait
It is hard to wait once you’ve had your interview, but you’ve done your best and worrying about the outcome won’t change it. Continue to apply for other jobs and use the time to upskill yourself with a Udemy or Coursera course online. Access podcasts or videos that inspire you to keep growing. If you are constantly reading and learning, your curiosity shows. This helps you to stand out amongst other candidates.
Partner with JumpStart
If you would like to support us in the work we do with high-potential youth, please consider a donation to The JumpStart Foundation Trust. We are a Public Benefit Organisation with the goal of accelerating South African youth into the digital economy through education, qualification and employment. Partner with us and to meet your BBEEE obligations or donate and receive your SARS Section 18(a) certificate. Email Betty Oliphant for more information.
About Azraa Noah
Azraa is a true brand ambassador for Fetola and builds valuable relationships with multiple stakeholders. She obtained her B Tech Degree in Human Resource Management from the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Azraa manages the HR Portfolio and takes pride in finding people who match the company culture and passion. She is a mother who loves poetry and writing, and she makes her friends laugh.
Cover image courtesy of James Pond