18 Nov 2009



I've spent the past three days going through around 600 CVs. A tough job but an interesting one. It's distressing to see how desperate people are to get work, especially recent graduates. Over 400 applications from people with a degree but no work experience whatsoever. But some very promising applicants as well.

Some lessons for young Tanzanian's applying for jobs:

1) Attention to detail: take the extra time to get your spelling and the names of positions, etc. right.

2) Tailor your application: think about the skills and experience you have (even not formal work experience) that's specifically relevant to the position you're applying for.

3) Use the cover letter to sell yourself, not just to introduce the CV. Tell shortlisters about your interests, your ambitions, etc. and how these fit with the organisation's values, etc.

4) Layout: make your application look nice, especially for a job that's in any way related to communications. Think carefully about the layout of your CV, the fonts and colours you use, etc. If you use a CV template (a good idea), then make sure it's adapted properly to suit both you and the post.

5) Don't waste space, paper, internet, etc. Be concise with your letter and CV (2-3 pages maximum), only send essential attachments, and try to make sure the file size of scanned attachments are not too big. We received several applications with scanned volleyball club certificates, primary school leaving certificates, etc., and around 20 emailed applications were bigger than 10MB. If it's bigger than 2MB, it's too big.

6) Personalise. If you know the name of the person you're applying to, include their name in the address line of your letter. It encourages someone to spend a couple of extra minutes looking at your CV. That can make all the difference.

Let me leave it there. Next week I'll let you know how the interviews go.