Oh no… I’m not self-promoting for your employment. Please, there’s a far simpler explanation for the header and headline: it’s clickbait. This is a much more attractive heading than ‘ways to apply for a job’. I expect this article heading to stand out and make you want to read at least a couple lines. THIS is the kind of attitude that I feel is needed in these dire times if you seek a hire.

It’s an absolute fact that if you seek to be employed during a pandemic, impressing your prospective employer is a definite must. Remember when many Ghanaians joked “June deɛ kwata kwata”? Yeah well it’s July. The threat of coronavirus is still very much alive and many business sectors are still unsure of how this pandemic will affect sales in the coming months, even years. Most employers are much more concerned with survival than expansion. Most employers are much more concerned with reducing salary expenditures and how to beef up or maintain sales numbers. 

You (or your business) now more than ever need to stand out. Unemployment rates have skyrocketed around the world and these last few weeks, we’ve had way more people walk into our building asking to meet our officers for some “urgent business” only to realise it’s to plea for employment. I have personally met more than a couple.

Still, BUSINESSES HAVE NEEDS even during COVID-19 and if you concentrate on those three words (“businesses have needs”), all you have to do is convince the guy signing the cheques that you deserve one, and yes even during a pandemic. Alan hired this very expensive sales manager and I was so confused until I realised it was for only one reason: the guy proves to be able and actually is beefing up sales numbers. So you CAN get hired during these times.

There’s a pandemic. The default answer before you ask is a big NO. So if you have the chance at changing it to a yes, recognise the opportunity in the context of present times and make the most of it. Here’s what I think impressed me or would have impressed me during the last few weeks.

Practice before we meet. I realised many of them did not know what to do; with their hands, with their briefcase or purse, even with their heads. This awkwardness gives you away as being uncomfortable in the setting. If you have one shot at a meeting with a would-be employer, prepare, practice practice practice every move, every detail, and nail that meeting. Breathe in, sit down, adjust your balance and make eye contact. These things are easier when you practised it many times before. Many might say “…but with time I will be better”. Not many have been willing to take that chance before all this, how much more now. It’s this kind of thinking you should do away with. Others were very fluid in their speaking but you can clearly sense the “I was just passing by and decided to try my luck” vibe. That leads me to my next point.

Customise the message. What our Group would requires in, say, our Business Development Department, would be different from other companies’ needs. Don’t generalise the message. Don’t sound like you’re reading from a textbook. This isn’t your usual job market. Something is different and it’s that many more people are saying what you’re saying to who you’re saying it to. Find a way to convey the message of “I was born to work here” and it’ll increase your chances. I don’t mean to say do that the arrogant way. I mean, let employers know that you know the company more than the next guy.

Don’t make simple, avoidable mistakes. One guy had his resume dated July 2019. That threw me off. I didn’t even know resumes came with dates at the top-right corners. Grammatical errors are total turn off as well. Again there’s a much greater need that you stand out. Simple avoidable mistakes like this give your application a bad feel.

Answer the simple question of “what can you do”. The keyword there is ‘can’. In a tumultuous job market, what you have been doing and/or what you prefer to do should all take a back seat. What CAN you do? Weaponize your other abilities if the present ones you’re used to don’t work. My wife, through online courses, got some IT training many years ago and she kept building on it. Working from home due to the pandemic freed up some time and I am surprised to find out she’s getting paid for IT work on the side, because she’s in Finance. If you have other abilities, start bringing it to the forefront.

Show me the money! Instead of telling me to try you and see, why not lead me to exploring exactly what I will see within a specified time frame. I believe that’s what Alan’s new Sales Manager did. “Do not pay me now, but let me work with you and within one week, if I am allowed to do A and B, I believe I bring the company C and D”. Use this tactic if you are sure you are THAT good and only need one shot to showcase what you have. Because most often, nobody knows, and nobody cares like you do. Speaking of this…

Nobody knows what you can do. Nobody cares like you do. It’s a harsh reality. A few of them spoke like if I googled them I would find everything I needed right on page 1. Well, as good as you might be, I probably don’t know you. And in these times, most employers are distracted with keeping the ship afloat. Like I earlier said, in these times, the default answer is NO. In order to beat this situation, you’d have to empathise with the guy sitting in front of you. Place yourself in the shoes of someone that doesn’t understand that he or she needs you. Take your time to explain what your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) is. Beforehand, take your time to craft what your USP is in the first place. Because without leading me there, it would be hard to see what you’re getting at when the last 10 people promised me the same thing. Remember, the ‘U’ in USP stands for UNIQUE. Unique, but in an honest way.

Stop with the obvious lies. It’s ok to liven up your resume a bit or fill in the blanks with a few colourful lines. But some of the things people put in there to fill the gaps are just not defendable. I called the bluff on some employments descriptions in a few resumes and the walls came crushing on them when they didn’t have follow-ups to my follow-ups. Employers are aware that you don’t have to be employed 24/7 all your life to be useful to the organisation. Misleading an employer benefits nobody. What I look for is a true sense of who you are and how you fit into the MIG company culture. It’s better to fill gaps with some volunteer work. That’s more understandable.

Keep your phone away. I can understand there are pressing matters for all of us. But the last place to showcase that is not at your job interview. That last Will Smith interview scene in the movie Pursuit Of Happiness is exactly that, A MOVIE SCENE. In the real and average world, employers would have had a million concerns before politely telling him to expect a reply later. Why? Because as much as you care about you, employers care about their company. The easy way to make employers care about you, is to show them you care about what they care about, which is the company. Receiving calls during a job interview is 100% allowed. Sending texts during a job interview is 100% ok. But it is highly not recommended. It sends the wrong message.

Do your research and connect with your interviewer. A couple years ago, Samuel Felli told me about how he had the greatest interview of his life when both of them realised they supported Manchester United. I got it back then, but I didn’t fully grasp what he was trying to relay. Now I do. 

I met this young chap who started our meeting being nice and polite, but devoid of any true substance pertaining to what he really wanted: a job. He was obviously trying his luck and was visibly excited he had gotten past the reception and past Dennis who asked that I meet him. Again, no real experience or skill jumped out. But he guy had clearly done his homework. He had no insider knowledge aside what’s online. You could tell he read everything he could find. I asked a couple questions, and I was going to wait until he was done before telling him there’s no employment for now but we’ll keep him in mind. Then he told me he had supported Real Madrid for many years now and he understood why I was a Madridista.

I took the bait. I asked why. We then proceeded to have about 30 minutes of one of the best soccer fan conversations I have had for a long while. He really does love Real Madrid as much as I do! He knew his Madrid facts too!

I digress.

Long story short, I took his number, he took mine, asked for him to be added on some Real Madrid WhatsApp groups I’m part of, and no I did not give him a job. But you can be 100% sure the moment I can reasonably justify his hire, the moment his abilities match some need in the office, he’s hired! Who wouldn’t want Real Madrid fans in the office aside my colleagues who are 80% Barcelona fans… See how much I’ve typed on him alone? That’s what happens when you do your research and connect with your interviewer.

Lastly, leave the door open to come back later. A few of them got me to commit by asking “I can come back and try my luck later right?”. What monster will say no. I learnt that I had inadvertently given the permission for them to repeat the walk-in, but this time, with an invitation. One of them even told my PA “your boss asked me to come back later”, and though that statement wasn’t right, it wasn’t wrong either.

Do not let the fear of failure make you feel like there’s no opportunity out there for you. Do not let the threat of coronavirus make you forgo good things that will come your way. Stand out when you can. Read. Research. Learn to better yourself now. The world will be a much harder place when the new normal settles in because a lot of competition will be borne of the current struggle. Be informed. Companies are still hiring. Companies will continue hiring. Job security is very crucial right now. A lot of people are willing to do a lot for very little. So, find that set of reasons you should be hired, and keep adding to them.