Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, said US President John F. Kennedy (JFK) in his iconic 1961 inauguration speech. Substitute company for country and that’s sound advice for any job seeker. Switch up that job search mindset and succeed! Learn more…
Central to JFK’s personal philosophy – summed up by those famous words – is the notion that life doesn’t owe us anything. What if, he proposed, we change our mindset from what do I get out of it to what can I put in? The latter attitude immediately moves us from a position of passivity to one of activity – where we’re actively taking responsibility for ourselves, our careers and our lives.
There’s no elevator to success: you have to take the stairs – Annika Sorenstam, Pro Golfer
Unfortunately, as Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg points out, there are too few candidates who enter the job market with that can-do, want-to-contribute attitude. And, unfortunately, we have to agree with Ms Sandberg – we receive piles of resumes on a weekly basis, both in response to advertised vacancies and from folks seeking general employment opportunities. Rather than highlighting want they can bring to the table though, many candidates seem focused primarily on what the company can give them – salary, working hours, benefits, perks, etc. – without acknowledging that it’s hard work that reaps rewards!
There’s no doubt that sussing out what a company’s offering is an important determining factor in your job hunt – you want to get the best deal for you, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But employers are on a similar hunt – the best deal for them!
Does this mean that each party – job seeker and job provider – are at loggerheads, in a battle to see who wins the best deal? Not if you see the process as a two-way street, and a chance to create win-win scenarios! So how do you do that? Focus on how you can provide solutions for your prospective employer’s business challenges and/or help them achieve their business goals.
South Africa has 6.2 million job seekers – Dr Gavin Lewis, Politicsweb.co.za
How to stand out from the pile? Here are the sorts of things we look for in successful job candidates:
These relate to the technical skills required for a particular position, for example, Excel skills for an accountant, html knowledge for a coder, or how to work Adobe software for a graphic designer. These skills are learned through formal training (education) as well as on-the-job training (experience).
South Africa is suffering from a dearth of hard skills – both a result of the brain-drain, where educated, experienced people have emigrated, and as a result of our inefficient and ineffective education system. It goes without saying, then, that we get excited when we come across a candidate who’s got the hard skills we need!
Those with a STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education are particularly sought-after by companies like ours and are increasingly hard to find in South Africa. In our business, for example, knowing and understanding basic fundamental concepts of the physical sciences – such as density, viscosity, volume and weight – is extremely important. Without this knowledge, it’s hard for our team members to comprehend the products we’re marketing, or to find appropriate solutions to our clients’ needs.
And then there’s the move towards the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the 21st century workplace, it’s not enough just to have job-specific hard skills. Digital skills – like how to find your way around the Microsoft Office suite, or Google Docs, and CRM software and data analytics software is essential.
In-Demand Hard Skills:
Working for any organisation requires interaction with other people – be it internally (colleagues and management) or externally (suppliers and customers). While these skills may be innate (some of us are better at certain things than others), making them harder to learn, they can be honed with practice! Critical thinking – with the resultant abilities to work independently, connect the dots, problem solve and seek and pursue opportunities – is a quality we particularly value in our team members.
In-Demand Soft Skills:
A lot of emphasis is placed on company culture, but did you know that the onus of cultivating a great culture doesn’t only rest on the employer! Great employees bring with them great attitudes – and become champions of company culture.
Your attitude determines your altitude – Zig Ziglar, American salesman and author
Every company culture is different, and different cultures value different attributes. Take a look at this infographic, and click on the radio buttons in red, to discover what we consider the most admirable assets of an SA Oil employee…
We’re always interested in hearing from quality candidates with the right mix of hard and soft skills, and who have the attributes we value. Think you’ve got what it takes to be part of the SA Oil team? Send us your CV…