careers advice

General tips for finding and applying
for a job in Ghana

Writing CVs  

In Ghana, CVs are required for almost all jobs advertised.

CVs serve as a reference document for the employer to assess the suitability or otherwise of the applicant for the job.  It also helps to guide the employer to match the status of the applicant to the requirements of the job.

Step by Step Guide for standard CVs in Ghana:

Contact Details

Begin with your name, address, phone number and email address, centred at the top of the page. Remember your name should be bold and one font size larger than your address and other information.

Objective

Stating a career objective at the beginning of your CV is optional. It enables employers to quickly identify your career objective(s) however this may limit your appeal.

Education

Your formal education and any further education you are currently undertaking should be included on your CV. Education can be placed either before or after your experience, depending on its relevance. You should include the institutions name and location, major/subject, dates and any other relevant information that will highlight your educational experiences and successes.

Experience and Skill Summary

Your skill sets are as important as your work or educational background, as they highlight what makes you special – this can be the difference between getting an interview and not. Your skills section should include:

  • Communications skills
  • Team Working skills
  • Problem solving skills
  • Computer skills
  • Technical abilities
  • Language skills 
  • Job skill summary
  • Language skills
  • Any further relevant and specialized skills you wish to highlight

Work Experience

You should clearly state the companies’ name, its location, your position and job title, dates, responsibilities, skills utilized and any accomplishments. To make it easier to read it can be formatted using bullet points or simple sentences. Any awards or citation you have received should also be included. The CV must be tailored to match the role of the incumbent job.

If you are a new graduate or have no work experience, you should substitute other experiences that will illustrate your skills and abilities to employers e.g., projects, volunteer activities etc.

Use assertive and positive language under the work history and experience sections, such as "developed", "organised" or "achieved".

Other Information

You can also include further areas that you wish to highlight or are relevant to the particular field you wish to apply for. This may go at the top or at the end. Some examples are:

  • Membership of clubs and societies
  • Leisure activities and hobbies
  • Contacts and networks
  • Other achievements

References

You can include contact information of references on the CV or write ‘References can be supplied on request’ instead. Either way references should include one personal reference and one work or school reference and they should have known you for a minimum of two years. You should detail their titles and position, telephone, address and email contacts.

Always get an individual’s permission before citing them as a referee.

International CVs should be tailored to potential employers skills and qualifications required which will be stated on websites or through the recruitment process so it is best to check with them.

Reference

CV example

Application forms

There are 3 important steps needed to develop a winning formula for finding jobs in Ghana. 

  1. Writing Effective Application Letters,
  2. Developing Dynamic CVs, and
  3. Mastering Strong Interview Skills

Normally, when companies have you fill out an application or send a resume, they will want you to also include a job application letter (also known as a cover letter). The job application letter is one of the most important parts of your application, because it will give your potential employer a glimpse into why the company should hire you. Here are some tips to help you write an effective job application letter.

Tip #1: Research the Company

Before you even start typing that cover letter, you should research the company to which you are applying. Why? You need to be able to gear your letter toward showing the employer how you will fit in and make the company even better. Your research will show that you understand the company, and you will be able to highlight the right qualifications on your job application letter.

Tip #2: Type Your Letter

This should be a given, but many people still do not realize that the job application letter should be typewritten so it is easy to read. The only handwritten part of the page should be your signature at the bottom.

Tip #3: Avoid Exaggeration

When you land an interview, you will be asked to backup the statements you have made in your application letter and your CV. Don’t put yourself in an embarrassing situation where you can’t substantiate a claim.

Tip #4: Use the Tools on Your Computer

Before you submit your job application letter, you need to do a spelling and grammar check. Use the tools in your word processing program to create a job application letter that is error free. Also, give it a once over without the computer check, as misspelled words are not always caught by your computer.

Tip #5: Make it Personal

Your job application letter should be written in the first person, which means you should use the word throughout. This is different from the resume.

Tip #6: Keep it to the Point

Your job application letter should not be more than one page. It should not be a dissertation of everything you have ever done. The job application letter is to highlight the important knowledge, accomplishments, and other things that will enhance the company. Also, avoid stories or jokes. They do not come across as professional, which is the image you want to put forth from your job application letter.

Tip #7: Don’t Play the Sympathy Card

These include statements like: (As a young boy I lost my father. My schooling was delayed due to financial difficulties). Such personal and emotional statements should be avoided. No employer is interested in your personal problems. Playing the sympathy card will cost you a job.

Tip #8: Use the Right Format

Your job application letter should look like a letter, but it should only be three or four paragraphs long. The first paragraph of your job application letter should contain the position you desire and where you found out about the job. You should also include why you think the company needs your services. The second paragraph of your job application letter should highlight your skills and accomplishments. Only use knowledge and accomplishments that apply to the specific job. You can do this by using the advertisement for the job and making connections between the qualifications and why you fit that need. You can divide this section of your job application into two sections if you need to. Finally, the third paragraph of your job application letter needs to ask for the interview. Let the hiring manager know how he or she can reach you. Be confident that the reader wants to interview you, but avoid arrogance.

When you take time to think about your job application letter, you will end up at the top of the list for the job. A well written job application letter gives you a leg up on the competition and your foot in the door.

 
Reference

Ghana Current Jobs

Preparing for Interviews
Employers and Interviews 

Here are the top ten things that employers look for when interviewing potential employees: 

  1. Communication skills 
  2. Honesty and integrity 
  3. Teamwork skills 
  4. Interpersonal skills
  5. Strong work ethic
  6. Motivation and initiative
  7. Flexibility 
  8. Analytical skills
  9. Computer skills
  10. Organisational skills

Here are the top ten things that employers do not want to see or hear when interviewing potential employees:

  1. Sloppy dress
  2. Chewing gum
  3. Using cellphone
  4. Using slang words
  5. Profanity (swear words)
  6. Asking about salary and benefits before the interview has begun
  7. Criticising former employers
  8. Telling one′s life story
  9. Stereotypical language (racist, sexist)
  10. Yawning
Reference

Africapay.org/Ghana 

The Skill to Dress Appropriately for an Interview

While this may sound understated, the initial impression you make on the interviewer will carry through to future interviews, if they are granted. This means you want to make sure you look great during your first interview so everything goes as it should. This is one job interview skill that everyone needs to grasp, even those seeking employment for the very first time.

Women attending an interview should wear a suit with pants or a skirt and a blouse for a modest appearance. Women should wear stockings in a natural tone and a sharp pair of black pumps. The outfit should be finished with some well chosen accessories to really pull everything together.

Men should opt for a rather conservative approach and choose a suit in black, navy, or grey, either pinstriped or solid. The dress shirt worn under the suit should be solid in either white or blue and coupled with a silky looking tie. Shoes should have laces and be well polished and his socks should match the shoes.

Being Well Prepared Is a Skill

Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts learn at an early age about the value of being prepared at all times and this motto is true when it comes to job interviews too. You will discover that being well prepared will serve you far better than simply relying on luck to carry you successfully through the interview. This is a job interview skill that you should master as quickly as possible.

Here are a few very basic steps you should follow:

Spend a fair amount of time researching the company you’re applying to as well as the job you’re after. You can get plenty of information from trade magazines or the Internet. Another excellent method for gathering information is to ask people that are active in the industry. If you appear to be well informed and prepared, you’ll make an excellent first impression with the interviewer. This shows that you have a true interest in securing the job you’ve applied for.

Next, you should analyze both your strengths and your weaknesses. Doing this will help craft a good elevator pitch when the expected question “tell us about yourself” is asked during your interview. You can accomplish this by compiling a detailed list of responsibilities you’ve had in previous jobs and what you’ve done to advance your career. Anytime you have to speak about previous employers, supervisors, or co-workers, be sure to do so in a positive manner. Even if you have negative feelings, always stick to the positive aspects of people.

Set very specific goals for the future, both personal and professional goals. There’s a good chance this topic will come up during the interview. When you take the time to really prepare yourself before the job interview, you will be confident that your demeanour will be cool, calm, and collected. By being well prepared you will be less likely to give poor answers to questions or babble on and on.

Confidence as a Skill

Confidence is a skill that can be worked on as you are going through the entire interview process. Confidence is a skill that takes some time to perfect, but when you combine a high level of confidence with your qualifications you will get through the interview with ease and hopefully look better than all the other candidates that have applied.

However, there is a trick to using confidence favourably. You have to have a grasp on that thin line that separates knowing that you can provide exactly what the company needs and really believing you have what they’re looking for. You must balance your confidence level so you don’t appear to be very arrogant. Master this balancing act and you will shine during any interview.

You will most likely be in a formal interview setting the very first time you meet with any prospective employer so you should do everything you can to make a good impression. You want to prove to them that you can bring as much value to the company as your application and resume reflects. Continue to work on polishing your job interview skill sets so you will be well prepared for your next interview.

Reference
Detailed careers information

Detailed further information about careers can be found at Jobs in Ghana

 

 

Networking - Creating a Professional Online Presence

When professionals refer to networking to advance their career, many times they are simply referring to their use of the social networking site LinkedIn.com

Yes, LinkedIn has done a fantastic job of branding itself as the #1 method to grow your professional network along with over 300 million professionals.

LinkedIn affords professionals the opportunity to Power their careers, Connect, Find, and be found.


Creating a Presence on Linked-In
Getting Started

Whether you’re starting out on LinkedIn for a job hunt, a strategic partnership or a way to open up a new opportunity, you need a strong professional network (think quality over quantity). Without this online rolodex, it is much more difficult to get through the door of a whole spectrum of possible career choices or business relationships. If you know the industry you want to get into and you have a few places to target, developing strong connections with people in your work field would help you greatly. It’s like Facebook…but for professionals only. Registration is free. Once registered, you can begin to network with people and utilize LinkedIn to its full potential.

To get the most out of what LinkedIn can do for your job search or for your business venture, follow these 5 easy steps.

1. Re-connect with old friends and colleagues – If you know any previous employers, colleagues, peers, associates and acquaintances – you should find a way to get in touch with them. Send them an invite to connect with them and see what’s going on. Re-introduce yourself and make a fresh start. Always re-acquaint with old friends or colleagues so that you can develop a deeper connection with them in the future.

2. Find recruiters and hiring managers on LinkedIn – One of the best ways to make quick connections is to upgrade to a premium account. This will allow you to connect with any recruiter on LinkedIn and fully optimize your job search. Not only do you have access to over 100 million member profiles, you can contact any of the industry professionals on LinkedIn you want! You get expanded search results, expanded profile viewing and an expanded view of who has seen your profile as well. That’s a lot of access! So take advantage.

3. Develop a strong contact list – You should constantly develop relationships with business partners to make sure they know you via your personal and professional brand.If you can make strong connections you will already have a higher percentage of gaining new opportunities. LinkedIn is a great place to reach out and build partnerships, arrange meetings and to discuss plans. Collaboration is your competitive advantage and LinkedIn gives you that edge.

4. Join LinkedIn groups and relevant discussions – Engage in daily topics in groups and join relevant discussions. If you want to add more connections, you have to be active on LinkedIn daily. It’s not enough to just reply to someone’s post, you have to start your own discussions and get people to join in on your conversation. This way, you will have a number of followers that you can share and gather information with.

5. Make connections with people you don’t know – For example, if you like someone’s blog, why not reference their name on LinkedIn and send them an invite saying you really enjoy reading their content?

Did you know that for every connection you make, you have access to their personal connections as well? You can use this tool to your advantage by sending InMails to a targeted audience. Start sharing your profile with as many people as you can to jumpstart your career.

TIP: The best way to connect with new people on LinkedIn is to introduce yourself. Think of how you would approach a professional at a junction that you didn’t know but have read their blog or even seen them on TV. Don’t just send an invite to someone and wait for them to reply. Show that you’re interested in getting to know them, especially if you are in the same industry as they are in. A couple of sentences could go a long way. Never ever go with the standard invite.

An example:

Hi Amos, thanks for sharing good suggestions, links on the group discussion and your website. Like to keep in touch instead of only using the “follow” button. Thanks! VW

After you tried optimizing your network on LinkedIn, you should build solid relationships with your contacts. If one of your connections refers you to their hiring manager or even sends your job application to their department, you must send them a thank-you letter as a token of your appreciation. You could even arrange a time to thank them in person or make a call over the phone to personally show your gratitude. These little things can go a long way when it comes to developing strong connections with people in your own industry.

Source: Resume Target

 

Raising your LinkedIn profile among recruiters 

Any recruiter will tell you that they are signed on to LinkedIn.com every single day. Why? Because recruiting has taken on the saying of “out with the old and in with the new”. When LinkedIn came onto the scene, the entire profession of recruiting instantly changed.

Instead of using traditional methods to source candidates, they now have hundreds of thousands (and now millions) of candidates right at the tips of their fingers. Without having to leave their desks, they are now able to view the professional background of all of these potential candidates based on their LinkedIn profiles.

So why haven’t you ever been contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn?

 

Six ways to optimize your profile in order to grab the attention of recruiters
The Three Cs – Current, Complete and Concise

Current: Creating a profile on LinkedIn is the first step in the right direction, but you also need to make yourself current. This means that you should be actively involved in the LinkedIn community. You can post updates regarding your career, share links to interesting articles you’ve read, or link your Twitter account up to your LinkedIn account so that your tweets are shared with your connections.

Complete: It doesn’t take long to browse through LinkedIn to find some atrocious profiles. Having an incomplete (or completely bare) LinkedIn profile, is just as bad as submitting an unfinished resume for a job posting. This will always hurt you more than help you. As soon as you sign up for a LinkedIn account, they automatically walk you through the steps of completing your profile. Aim to have an 80% completeness score, to start off, and then later you can add more information into the profile.

Concise: LinkedIn does not confine your information to a two-page limit the way a resume will, but that does not mean you can include every single position you’ve ever had. You will easily lose a recruiter’s attention on a lengthy profile page, the same way you would lose it in a 5-page resume. You must remain concise! Outline all of the key pieces of information, but make sure you still have something to say if you’re asked to expand upon each point.

Keywords

Skills & Expertise: The new and improved LinkedIn profiles now offer a Skills & Expertise section where you can include in-demand keywords into your profile. Once you start typing a common keyword, you will see a drop-down list appear with common keywords to choose from. This is an incredibly easy way to incorporate effective keywords into your profile.

Job Postings: If you’re really at a loss for what the keywords for your role are, look up job postings that are similar to your position. Throughout the responsibilities and requirements sections, you will easily be able to pinpoint the common keywords that are used across a variety of companies, and then incorporate them into your profile.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool: This tool provided by Google allows you to see which keywords yield the highest number of searches. It seems like a small detail, but “Client Relations” and “Client Relationships” could get you two very different levels of results. This is a great way to know that you’ve made the right choices in regards to the keywords you’ve included.

Profile Photo

Professional Photo: First things first – this isn’t Facebook. This is a professional networking site, and you must look professional in your photo. You should be wearing something you would wear to work or to an interview, and have a warm smile on your face (it doesn’t have to look like a passport photo). Once that is all taken care of, make sure the background you choose has no distractions, and ensure the photo is from your shoulders up. If you’ve ever had a professional headshot done, this would be a great use for it.

Visibility: Many people opt out of the Linkedin Profile Photo either because they don’t have a professional photo to upload, or because they don’t want people to know what they look like. This is a poor decision. Including a photo into your LinkedIn profile instantly increases your visibility on LinkedIn by 7 times. Also, by having a friendly face at the top of the page, the recruiter will see you as a person, and not just text on a webpage.

Networking

Connections: You could have the greatest LinkedIn profile in the world, but if you don’t have any connections, it won’t get you very far. Building up your network of connections is one of the most important tools on LinkedIn. A great way to get started is to use your e-mail address book to find contacts who are already members of LinkedIn. You can also use the “People You May Know” tool to connect with friends, family members, and colleagues from past or present.

Groups: Another great way to meet professionals on LinkedIn is by joining groups. There are a multitude of groups on LinkedIn for every field, profession and industry. You can browse through the groups and choose a few that really relate to what you are looking for. By actively participating in groups, you can easily build new relationships which will lead to more connections.

Recruiters: Instead of waiting around for recruiters to find you, why don’t you take the lead and connect with some recruiters. By conducting a people search in LinkedIn, you will be able to find recruiters within your targeted industry and field. It is completely acceptable for you to reach out to them and request a connection. Don’t be shy – LinkedIn is all about expanding your network.


Value Statement & Headline

Introduction: You will notice that the LinkedIn profile begins with a Summary section. Treat this section the same way you would treat the introductory value statement on your resume. You want to immediately tell this recruiter what your current job title is, what your industry focus is, how many years of experience you have, your academic background, and a brief highlight of achievements. This will catch the recruiter’s attention and intrigue them enough to continue reading through your profile.

Headline: When you appear in search results on LinkedIn, the recruiter will see your picture and your headline, and that information must be interesting enough for them to click on your name. The headline will also help you appear in search results for specific keywords. Instead of listing your headline as your current role, such as “Senior Chartered Accountant at KPMG”, list your headline as your strongest keywords, such as “Accounting | Auditing | Management”. Your current role is already listed in the information box at the top of your profile, so focus on the keywords that will get you noticed.


Recommendations – Give & Receive

Give: Before sending out a mass message requesting recommendations from your former employers and colleagues, start off by providing recommendations for them. If you’ve taken the time out to improve their profile on LinkedIn, it’s far more professional when you ask for a recommendation in return. Many LinkedIn users will respond automatically by providing you with a recommendation as well, without you even having to ask.

Receive: Be sure to request recommendations from professionals that you maintained a relationship with over time. You want the recommendation to reflect the depth of your relationship with this colleague, and not to sound like a generic statement. Also, always send a thank you note to anyone who provides you with a recommendation. They’ve helped you improve your visibility on LinkedIn, which may just land you a new job one day.

Source: Resume Target