Mastering the Art of Job Search: Insider Insights for Finding and Landing Your Dream Career

by SFAN Staff · Career advice

Wed, 04 Oct 2017 · 3 minute read

SFAN image

Almost every student
or job seeker has a fair idea of what career they want to pursue but
many don’t really know how to make it happen. Job search is becoming
increasingly difficult and thanks to technology, employers are
continually raising the bar on their expectations from new hires. 

So, how do you beat the odds and nail that job that puts springs on your feet each morning as you go to work? 

We invited an Executive Trainer and an HR Director to September
edition of #SFANLiveChat to weigh in on how job seekers can prepare for
and find careers they love — or let it find them. (Take a peek at a recap of the previous edition

Marricke Gane Kofi is a Donor Consultant/Executive Trainer at
Marricke Gane Consulting Ltd while Lexy Boahene is the founder of LX HR
Solutions, an HR company that helps Ghanaians in Diaspora find work back
home. Below are exclusive insights from the chat -- on how to determine
your career path, stay visible to recruiters, and eventually get

1. Understand what a career is and be clear about what you want. 

There’s a difference between having a job and having a career. A job
is something you get to do to make a living — to earn money — while a
career is like a calling. “In my view, a career is something you are
wired for, love doing, and that adds value to you and others both
financially and otherwise,” Marricke explains. 


In a job, you do whatever the boss says and try as much as possible
to be in his good books but in a career, you go above and beyond your
job description. Your primary focus is not on doing the barest minimum
to earn a paycheck, you take initiatives and perform the job as though
the company belongs to you. 

“I’d describe it as an occupation that you embark on throughout your
working years,” Lexy underscores. “You are expected to develop and
progress through this journey!” 

This involves a clear understanding of what you truly want and setting specific goals on how to actualize it. 

“I don’t think you always necessarily know from the beginning,” Lexy
says, “but it’s important to consider these three things when choosing a
career path: 

  • Make sure you are doing what you love or enjoy 
  • Do what you are good at and what naturally comes easy 
  • Try to stick to broad subjects/tasks in the beginning. Learn a range of new things and transferable skills.” 

Marricke observes: I think one of the core things to do is to know
yourself -- how your brain works, your personality, your natural
interests. The moment you know how you are wired, the next thing is to
figure what industry and roles require your strength most. Your
strengths must find you your career, not vice versa. 

When you’ve figured out where to start your career journey from, then you need to set clear goals for your progression: 

  • Where do you want to be in the next year, five years or ten years and how do you get there? 
  • What needs to be done daily, weekly, or monthly to move you further, faster? 

Note, things might not always play out the way you planned, continually review your strategy and adapt to changes. 

Finally, leverage community events, attend workshops, find a mentor
and build relationships. These will help you find direction. 

2. Don’t be trapped by the lack of experience “Catch 22”. 

“It’s better to be prepared for an opportunity and not have one
than to have an opportunity and not be prepared.” — Whitney M. Young

Recruiters won’t hire you if you don’t have work experience but you
need the job to get work experience. That’s the catch-22 entry-level job
seekers often face. 


To avoid this, don’t wait until you graduate from college before
getting prepared for work, get involved in an internship or
apprenticeship scheme -- work for free if you have to or find a solution
to a problem and create a startup, Lexy emphasizes. 

Your internship job might not necessarily be in the area of your
passion but it gives you an invaluable understanding of the world of
work and helps you create vital connections. An internship is a way of
testing the waters of your career journey. 

Many students often moan that they don’t get to do actual work during
an internship other than ‘fetching coffee or making copies’. The truth
is if you’re diligent in those humble assignments, you could build great
traction that might land you better roles. 

No matter how insignificant your work might seem, be sure to use it
as an opportunity to distinguish yourself and learn how things work in
the bigger context. Ask questions, show genuine interest in what your
colleagues are doing and someday someone might need a hand with
something and you’d be ready. 

3. Make it hard for recruiters to ignore your resume. 

“When you do a resume, think of a recruiter as looking at
thousands of resumes, she or he will pick ones that make her or his work
easier to select.” — Marricke Gane


Contrary to popular opinion, many hiring managers are still utilizing resumes in making recruitment decisions. 

But, that’s not the whole truth. 

Let’s say you saw a job advert and sent in your resume. The system
stacks it in and eventually, the HR exec gets ready to review the pile
(if she doesn’t review them just-in-time). 

She is looking for two exceptional candidates for a marketing
position but she’s faced with more than 2,000 resumes (well, to be fair
let’s just say 100 resumes). As if that’s not enough, she has to also
take a peek at some of the cover letters for the shortlists. 

How much time do you think she has to consider each of the resumes
before clicking the “next” button or throwing it into the waste bin? 

15 seconds, tops! 

So how do you make your resume stand out from the pack? 

“Make it look the way most people’s resume will NOT look like;
simple, easy to digest and powerful. I like to use infographics. I
recommend infographics because most won’t use it. It depicts info on you
in attractive and digestible ways,” Marricke says. 

Many job applicants often think that the more content and
“activities” they have on their resume, the better. And so they list
everything you can imagine in there. Unfortunately, that’s the quickest
way to get your copy into the trash bin. 

A better approach is to find out what experiences the job needs and highlight that. 

“Keep it simple and please make sure the layout is not overwhelming,” Lexy cautions. 

The difference between a CV and a Resume: 

It is generally accepted
 that a CV (Curriculum Vitae) is a long in-depth document that can be
laid out over two or more pages and it contains a high level of detail
about your achievements, a great deal more than just a career biography
while a resume is a concise document typically not longer than one page
as the intended reader will not dwell on your document for very long.
The goal of a resume is to make an individual stand out from the


P.S: Remember to spellcheck your stuff, use uniform fonts and sizes , and highlight your accomplishments in every role you mention. 

4. Brand yourself on social media. 

Social media is a very useful resource when you’re looking for a job but it can equally be a liability. 

“If you haven’t kept a good social presence until now, it’s a bit
late because recruiters go way back to look. Most recruiters just want
to see if you are positive or negative in the social space. So be on
social media to make an impact. You can’t be nasty on social media and tell interviewers you are sweet — they’ll see you as a reputational time bomb,” Marricke explains. 

To create a good social media image, Lexy says, firstly, have a
presence on social media even if it’s just Linkedin and be active! Talk
about social issues and highlight your strengths on your social media

In today’s super competitive labor market, personal branding trumps
“job experience”. Leverage social media to create your equity and become
a thought leader in the area of your passion. A lot of companies are
looking for subject-matter-experts and social media influencers because
majority of business transactions now happen via social media. 

Here’s a simple outline on how to create a personal brand on social media: 

  • Identify two to three subjects you care about -- you have to represent something. 
  • Create a decent and consistent profile across various platforms -- Guy Kawasaki
    , the chief evangelist of Canva says the rule of thumb is to always
    have a professional business attire photo of just your face for profile
  • Start blogging or posting consistently on subjects of your choice.
    Don’t just focus on sharing your stuff, make out time to connect with
    others by reading, sharing, commenting on or liking their posts/tweets
    as well. 
  • Be authentic. The reason you have to be you is that if you are simply putting on a show, the day the façade comes down, you’ll lose your audience. 

Join thousands of young Africans launching their careers.

Get free career and entrepreneurship tips delivered directly to your inbox.