Life is funny. After so many years of being conditioned in academia to fit in, stick to the rules, and pay attention to the fine print of the syllabus and (later on) contracts, job recruiters ask us to stand out. So many students graduated last semester into an already-saturated market. More middle-class jobs are disappearing, being replaced by software or temp positions. According to US government statistics, “almost half a million college graduates are working minimum-wage jobs.” And that’s for a developed country. I can’t imagine what the statistics would look like for a developing country such as Kenya. Recently there was a#KOT debate on twitter circling about unemployment and someone gave the example of how 8000 CVs were received for 10 job vacancies at a certain company.
The problem is, students are graduating, and then they’re all doing exactly the same thing. They polish their resumes in exactly the same way, write their cover letters, go onto an online job posting website, send in an application then twiddle their fingers waiting for the call…
that never comes.
I know how frustrating it is.
So let’s objectively summarize the state of the job market;
(a) The economic outlook is bleak.
(b) Everybody’s looking for jobs in exactly the same way
(c) Most open vacancies aren’t even announced
So how do you stand out in a world that asks you to fit in?
The first key mentioned in 8 Keys to Success Getting Hired in the 21st Century is this; Start your own website. This is not to say that the moment you start a website a job will come to you through your website. Chances are, it won’t. Actually even other people won’t come to your website. But if someone somehow finds your CV interesting, and they end up googling you, you don’t want those embarrassing Facebook pictures to be the first thing that they see.
Also, a website will you give you a space for exploring your interests, connecting with others, and showcasing your portfolio – if you have any. In one of the interviews, I was asked what my favorite subject in uni was. The follow-up question was quite interesting. The interviewer asked, “How did you advance your knowledge in that subject after university?”
Of course, I hadn’t advanced my knowledge after university.
Of course, I didn’t get the job.
But that’s not the point. The point is, HR professionals are smart people. They recognize the multi-faceted nature of human beings , and they know it’s hard to capture the essence of employees via resumes and cover letters only, especially since we all google exactly the same things, and end up in exactly the same websites.
That’s why, if you’re still a student or you’ve just graduated, you must start a website, regardless of your profession. Discuss interesting news in your field. Add your personal portfolio online.
If you want to start your own website, get started in 3 basic steps;
1. Get a self-hosted website. Blogging on free sites such as wordpress.com have their limitations. I should know because I spent close to 6 years there, and it didn’t amount to much. That’s why I personally recommend self-hosting using Hostgator.com. Use my personal promocode; AHSCRIBE and depending on your hosting plan you might get a discount. Please note that this is the only part of the process that will cost you money, but it’s worth the investment. Choose the cheapest plan; WordPress Hosting/Hatchling plan.
2. Get a suitable domain name that’s connected to your name or your interest. It must be easy to remember and not something like gangstastyle28593.com. Also check if the domain name is available across other social media platforms using https://www.namecheckr.com/ as you might want to stay consistent in the web. A final check is misspell your domain name on purpose and see what comes up. Ideally you would want an error message if you misspell it so the person visiting knows they did a mistake. Worse case scenario, you would want to alert people not to make the mistake because someone else’s website comes up. The Add-ons are not that necessary, so you might want to ignore those and go to checkout.
3. Install WordPress. Once your account info has been emailed to you, log into the control panel. The address should be something like this; [yourdomain.com/cpanel]. Log in, and go to “Get Started with WordPress Today”. Install WordPress for free and voila! You’re emailed a Quickinstall account name and password that you’ll use to log in and publish your very first post.
The amazing thing about the internet is any further questions you have on plugins to install and web design to select is google-able. Now that you have your own website, you can use it as a sandbox for experimentation. You can show off your interests and personal identity to possible recruiters. You get a chance to the world that you’re more than just your CV.