Tips from Africa Legal Co-Founder and COO, Wendy Bampton for 2019 job search #yourafricalegal
It’s the start of a new year and a common time for professionals to think about what their career looks like moving forward. Is 2019 time to gain a new skill, a qualification, a promotion, a new role or move to a new industry entirely?
Each individual's professional aspirations might be different but if you are looking to take a step up or move roles one thing is clear…..you won’t be the only one. Competition is stiffer than ever. So, how do you set yourself apart if you are looking for a new job in the African legal sector?
Be clear about what you are looking for and why you want to leave your current role
Whatever your reason for looking for a new role you need to be clear about what you are looking for and why. Write down your top three reasons for looking for a new role and be specific. For example;
I am looking for a position…. that allows me to gain experience in legal technology...because…...it is an important growth area for the legal sector
I am looking for a position... with potential for me to gain a promotion within two years...because…...being recognised in my role is important to me.
I am looking for a position…that provides me with greater flexibility...because…...I would like to spend more time with my family.
A lot of job seekers overlook important factors such as culture. Does the business environment match up to your personal values? Understanding the type of culture you are looking for, as well as the type of role, will help you look at companies for the right reasons rather than just remuneration and benefits. What is important to you?
Be realistic and honest with yourself
Often job seekers focus on what they are looking to gain in a new role rather than also reflecting on the reasons they are looking to leave. Is there actually a chance you could progress internally but have overlooked gaps in your own skill set you need to address?
When, and if, you have established you need to move on to meet your career aspirations, reflect and be honest with yourself. Are your aspirations realistic? Are you looking for a promotion in a new company you are not yet qualified for? If you are looking for greater flexibility that may mean a trade off in remuneration. Are your goals aligned?
I am a great believer that being challenged is essential for growth in our chosen paths. Being realistic does not mean we should not aspire. It means we are more likely to get there because we understand what we need to do. You may need to step out of your comfort zone, work longer hours, commit more than others around you and learn to plan and hold yourself accountable.
If, after reflection, you find your aspirations aren’t yet realistic, set goals to get there, set a timescale and review how you are tracking against it on at least a monthly basis.
Your goals might include;
Reading everything you can about your chosen role and sector
Finding the gaps in your experience and knowledge to establish what you need to do to close them
Taking courses in your spare time
Doing unpaid work experience
Being humble, listening and asking questions
Finding a mentor and being a mentor yourself; no one is so senior they know everything!
Treat your job search as you would a major project
For most of us our jobs are one of the most important factors in our lives. After all we spend enough time doing them! So, when it comes to your job search minimum effort is likely to deliver minimum output. That means planning and preparation
Clean up your social media profiles; this includes personal accounts on facebook and twitter
Is your email address at work appropriate?
LinkedIn is your online CV. Is it up to date? Is your picture clear? Are you in the right groups?
Update your resume/CV. Ensure it has tangible experience represented and clear examples
Register online for jobs alerts on relevant job boards and careers sites
Is there a specialist recruitment agency that might be able to help? Choose a maximum of two and ensure they do not send out your CV without your consent
Are there conferences or events in your chosen sector you could attend?
Apply strategically for jobs
There are lots of examples of times where doing more of something leads to success; training for a marathon, learning to speak a language or to drive a car. Sending out your CV to secure a new job is not one of them. The ‘spray and pray’ technique is very rarely successful and can do more damage than good.
Read the job spec or advert clearly and note down the key experiences required.
Research the company, the hiring manager, the partner the role might be working for and go further than the company website. Are there articles of interest you can reference in your application? Recent deals or exciting organisational developments?
Review your CV and tailor it to the advert ensuring that the experience that the employer is asking to see is represented where you have it. If you don’t have some of the experience do not lie or ‘blag’. Use your covering letter to highlight why you are still a strong candidate and what you will do to close the gap.
Do not send out the same covering letter to each potential employer. Generic emails stand out like a sore thumb and, if you can’t take time to show the employer why you are right for the role and the company culture, why should they take time to interview you?
Use spell check! We see so many applications that fall down due to poor grammar. Take time to review, check and don’t be afraid of asking someone else to review too.
If you don’t succeed still say thank you, ask for feedback or to be added to a mailing list to keep in touch with the company. The world is a lot smaller than you think and being gracious goes a long way.
Be open minded and flexible. Often there are roles in organizations or locations you might not have considered before.
Think long term. Does the role you are applying for align to your long term as well as short term goals?
Your career is your responsibility not just an employers. To get to the top of your field takes time, effort, commitment and more drive than you thought was possible. End 2019 knowing you have given it your absolute all.
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