Job Hunting Strategies

I’ve been delivering speeches and presentations about job hunting strategies and career planning for years now. My audiences were a wonderful mix throughout this journey; ranging from grade school students all the way to junior position staff.

The most common thing about all of them was: they didn’t have a career plan and didn’t know how to find jobs that matched their skills, and didn’t know how to approach employers.

Bahrain is a small country, and we joke about how everyone knows each other. This prompts a challenge to job seekers because networks play a major role in filling those vacant positions. Some call it networking, others call it pulling strings. I say if you have the right skills, attitude, and strategy, you’ll be able to get that job interview and impress the potential employer.

I’ve recently compiled my experience in this field in a short eBook: Get the Job You Want. In it, I’ve included how job seekers can plan a straightforward strategy to job hunting. Here is a link:

Get Your Copy

So what job hunting strategies do you follow, and what stories do you have about interviews and job application success?

Let it be still

Once upon a time, there was a young beautiful girl whose home was close to a small lake. She used to go out to the lake everyday and contemplate her reflection in the still water.

One day, she decided to take her younger brother with her, and while she was reflecting on her image in the water, arranging her fine hair, her brother took a small stone and threw it into the lake, resulting in waves. The young girl’s reflection was distorted. She became angry, and started an effort to stop the water ripples here and there using her hands, but to no avail.

An old man passed by and asked her what the problem was . She told him the story, and he offered to help. He said,  “I will tell you the only solution that stop the water ripples, but its very difficult”. She replied, “I’ll do it, whatever the cost”. Very calmly the old man replied, “Just let the lake be still“.

Moral of the story

We often become so accustomed to the status quo that the slightest change or the smallest problem we face disturb us. Not only that, but when we try to solve the problems we’re facing, or fight the change we’re experiencing, we tend to make matters worse.  We can surely give it a try once or  twice, but when we notice a deterioration in the situation, just letting things be, could bring normality back. Being patient, and giving a chance to time is sometimes better than intervening.

Virtual Volunteering

Computer Supported Cooperative Work, CSCW for short, may be self-explanatory, but it carries with it complications of how individuals and groups interact with others using technological means. In my point of view, CSCW isn’t restricted to business only. Its tools and techniques can be applied to what is known as Virtual Volunteering.

With more than 55% internet penetration in Bahrain, you’d think that Virtual Volunteering is widespread.

Unfortunately, not everyone is aware of what virtual volunteering really is. Some of us however do it unawarely (Yes, it is a word, check the link).  There are different types of Virtual Volunteering, and I would like to share a few with you. But first, what is volunteering anyways?

People volunteer, or give some of their time for a cause they believe in without expecting anything in return, except feeling good. They volunteer to improve the quality of life of others, as well as their own. They volunteer to gain new skills and experiences, without being afraid of punishment when not successful. Some volunteer as administrators, others as event organizers, and there are more ways to volunteer than you’d imagine. One of these ways is Virtual Volunteering. Simply put, virtual volunteering is doing tasks online, or via telephone in a collaborative manner.

There are many benefits to virtual volunteering aside from being on the receiving end. The first of which, is that it is not bound by time or space. The best example of this is the UN’s Online Volunteering Service. I can for example help “Develop a website with WordPress” for the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation in Cameroon, from the comfort of my home in Bahrain. Where is my benefit? This would probably be my best opportunity to market my skills and gain a reputation for being a good web developer. Virtual volunteer work would serve both sides in this case. People love freebies, and we as humans love attention as well.

Another benefit of virtual volunteering is that it enables persons with disabilities to do volunteer work. Some of the virtual volunteering activities may include typing, translation of documents, research, web administration, ….. etc., all of these activities and many more can be done with limited mobility. Which also brings us to one more added benefit of virtual volunteering, which is the vast pool of potential volunteers created. There are many of us who wished they had more time to go out and volunteer. But who said you have to “go out” and volunteer? You can “stay in” and contribute to local, or even global society.

In the Recycle IT project, which aims at creating a culture of recycling electronic waste in Bahrain, the awareness team tried and tested the concept of virtual volunteering by creating a web design competition for the project’s website. Perhaps becoming involved in a competition isn’t really considered volunteer work, but the prizes were modest, and introducing a new concept to the community takes time.

Participation in the competition was fair, and the real virtual volunteers were the common people who went on our Facebook page and voted for whichever design they thought was best. Yet another example of virtual volunteer work done unawarely (I’m just in love with this word now).

The ground for virtual volunteer work in Bahrain is solid, as usage of smart phones and the internet increases by the day. There is a golden rule to keep in mind when it comes to selecting or recruiting volunteers whether virtual or not;  description of the task must always be ready and as detailed as possible, with a point of contact assigned. Otherwise volunteers would lose interest.

So where can you volunteer virtually in Bahrain?  There are more than 500 non-profit organizations in Bahrain, and you can be sure that need your skill whatever it may be:

  • Website design and development
  • Website maintenance
  • Online recruitment of volunteers on forums and bulletin boards
  • Managing social media channels
    • YouTube
    • Twitter
    • Facebook
  • Translating documents
  • Graphic design of brochures and pamphlets

and the list goes on.

Get the Job You Want

A couple of weeks ago I gave my first training workshop for Good Word Society’s volunteer skill development program Itqan (perfection). It was titled “Get the Job You Want”.

In Bahrain, just like any other place in this –now- tiny world, competition over jobs is fierce.

What I thought was a problem of simply not knowing how to write a CV/Resume and how to attend a job interview, turned out to be a complete lack of communication skills, an evident weakness in foreign languages (referring to English), and the inability to perform in a competing world.

The culture that the majority of youth face in Bahrain is one of dependence. Many expect their parents’ networks to do them favors, or the government to provide them with everything that is needed. This though, doesn’t work in the real world. It also doesn’t go in line with the proposed Bahrain 2030 economic vision which is summarized as follows:

We aspire to shift from an economy built on oil wealth to a productive, globally competitive economy, shaped by the government and driven by a pioneering private sector – an economy that raises a broad middle class of Bahrainis who enjoy good living standards through increased productivity and high-wage jobs.

Interestingly, as I was pondering the solution to this issue, I saw a billboard advertisement for a program by the General Organization for Youth & Sports  called “Almohemah” , which literally translates to the The Mission.

I went and googled the term “Almohemah“, to find that it’s a training program to train young graduates on how to hunt for jobs and the basics of business ethics.  Some of the program’s interesting goals are:

  • Prepare young graduates to join the workforce.
  • Create a competitive work atmosphere.
  • Development of the work force skills.
  • Instill proper business ethics into participants.

Luckily, I’ve been chosen to take part in this program, helping me give back to the society in a way that I can help best. I will be assigned to 10 out of the 80 participants to deliver short workshops on Teamwork, Business Ethics, CV Writing & Self Marketing, and others.

The program will start next week, and will be entirely filmed and produced as a reality TV series! So now you’re reading the post of a soon to be celebrity =)

Back to my Get The Job You Want workshop. It was an excellent experience that differed from teaching at the university. Workshops and seminars tend to be more dynamic and encourage participant involvement in activities and discussions. I received great feedback from the participants and will certainly incorporate their ideas into version 2 of the workshop.