Q&A On Following Up with Employment Agencies

Q&A from a reader regarding following up with a recruitment agency. Here’s the question:

“Dear Gerard: I got an email from an agent just before Christmas saying that they had sent my CV to a client whom they would make a follow up with week beginning the 13th of January 2014. They have not been in touch with me since. Should I call them?”

Here’s my answer:

Hi [Reader]. There are 2 things you should know:
1) Agencies are notorious for just never getting back to you – sometimes with valid and often with poor reasons. So you should absolutely follow up with them. Badger them. If they made a promise you are within your rights to follow up. In a cluttered job market you can’t leave these things to chance.
2) You should however also manage your expectations. Don’t expect too much from agencies. Most often you won’t even get an interview. It’s just a fact. So definitely follow up… BUT … you also should never be waiting for them to make a move, never rely solely on them to make things happen in your job search. You have to be proactive in finding work for yourself. Using agencies should be only one means by which you search.
[Note: there’s a lot more on alternative job search methods – some of them are so simple and clever – in my member’s only and very low cost members only site, see more here: www.careerandsuccess.info]

What Your CV Needs to do For You to Be Taken Seriously – 9 Specific Things

Background: someone sent me their CV for review. It was written by a recruitment agency. The individual is looking to make a career change from the military to private sector. This is entirely do-able, but the CV really needs to ‘hit’ hard for them. Here’s my answer to her:

For an employer reviewing your CV, really, they must:

… see benefit to themselves, they must see that you have skills they need, they must see that you are someone who can work hard and well for them, that you can provide the benefit they need, and more.

So, you want to highlight things you’ve achieved –

  1. how you’ve reduced backlogs,
  2. how you’ve worked with difficult people successfully,
  3. how you’ve provided accurate, on-time services,
  4. how you’ve kept an organized, up-to-date office,
  5. how you’ve ensured compliance to regulations,
  6. how you’ve done the work of 2 people (saving money, etc),
  7. how you’ve streamlined processes (again, saving resources),
  8. how you’ve learned new things quickly, etc, etc.
  9. You want to show people have trusted you with much and you’ve delivered, on-target, on-time.

All of this needs to be highlighted and detailed in various ways in the CV in order to get attention and to be taken seriously. If all you have is a list of “duties”, you could be in trouble.

(Recruitment people often have no idea of what a CV can be, they just use the same old approach, one that they’ve been using for the last 40 years.)

Can a 73 Year Old Get Work? Here’s my Answer.

So I got a question from “X” today:

Hi Gerard, how do u go about finding a job if you are 73 years old, but perfectly capable?  No one will hire whether on a casual, temporary or part-time, etc., basis.

Here’s my reply:

Hi “X”, thanks for your question. And of course you have challenges. Not many 73 year olds are looking for work. Many are not what they once were in terms of health and strength and even mental alertness – I know, my father who died at age 74, 3 years ago, was in no fit state to work anywhere. He had severe dimentia and cancer!

So certainly there are stereotypes and prejudices and doubts that employers may have. And we can’t wish that away. However if you still have value – business value – skills that you can use to benefit a business, then someone, somewhere will give you an opportunity.

If you follow the basic recipe I outlined in my e-mail earlier today, then with persistence you can succeed in finding work. You may have to adjust your expectations, you may have to be flexible, you may need to develop a new skill or two. But if you focus on offering employers what they need, you will find someone who offers you an opportunity.

Do not however think that employment agencies will help you. They won’t.

Don’t judge the job market based on the response you get from them!

Also, don’t think that you’ll be successful answering job ads either in newspapers or online. You likely won’t. Although one exception may be using the likes for Gumtree to both find job ads from local businesses and to advertise yourself.

Start where you are:

  • Define exactly how you can be valuable to a business, what skills can you employ to help them, what do they need that you have?
  • Then target local businesses, visit them every 2 weeks to offer what you have, be boldly persistent. If you’re healthy, well spoken, are “together” then word will spread.
  • Network amongst your friends and neighbours. Are you a member of any associations or clubs? Network with them, explain what you’re looking for and what benefits you have to offer.
  • If you read about business personalities in the local newspaper, pay them a visit – repeatedly – and explain how you think you can offer their business some skill and benefit.
  • Look after yourself physically, keep fit. Read a lot – keep up-to-date with technology as far as you can (there are many free courses on the internet).

If you persist with this kind of positive approach … your results will be guaranteed.

Hope this helps! Keep in touch. I’d love to hear how you’re fairing.

Warning: My CV Writing Service May Not Be for You!

It’s true.

I’ve just added this warning to my CV Writing Service details:

This is for your protection. And mine.

If you’re looking for a traditional CV – 10 pages long, a cover page with a clip-art image of two people shaking hands on it with your name in big bold type and enveloped in scrolls … if you’re looking for a CV that begins with your “Personal Details” followed by your “Secondary School Details” … a CV that has long lists of your “Duties and Responsibilities” … then let me be clear, my service is NOT for you.

However … if you’re willing to step outside your comfort zone a little, if you feel it’s time to ‘push the envelope’ in your efforts to market yourself, if you’re willing to take a bolder, fresher, more to the point approach in which you distinguish yourself (in a competitive and cluttered job market, not a bad idea!); if you view yourself as a ‘business’; if you want to present yourself as a ‘business solution’ to a company (whether you’re a PA or CEO) – even though you’re employed …

… then you’re the kind of person I LOVE dealing with. You’re the reason I do what I do. And together we’ll get great results. My service very definitely IS for you.

Go to www.wowcv.net/professional-cv-writing for more. Or contact me direct on gerard [at] jobsearching.co.za

The Two Roads to Your Next Job – Why You May be Stuck, How to Get Unstuck

[This is an excerpt from my Get a Job Fast programme]

The job searching road you’re on may have started out smooth and free flowing. But likely it deteriorated fast. And now you’re stuck in traffic with no end in sight. Is there an exit? Is there another way?

In job hunting, there are two roads. Road A. And Road B. Here’s a quick synopsis of what they are. Try to figure out 1) which you’re on; and 2) which one you should be on. One leads to frustration. Another to freedom … or at least another job options, sooner, quicker, faster.

Job Hunting Road A:

Road A has a dedicated lane for perfect people (qualifications, experience, race, age, etc). For everyone else, it’s congested, slow, frustrating, with plenty of breakdowns along the way.

Road A is the world of employment agencies, job adverts and junior HR people filtering you out in a pile of many other similar looking people. It has a tick-box mentality and if you don’t immediately appear to meet a few criteria, you’re don’t get a look in. It’s known for poor service.

On Road A, people easily become demoralised. Even angry. It’s a congested, frustrating road. So use path A, but be warned. What’s your experience been?

Job Hunting Road B:

Very few know about it. But with it you always have a way forward, you can get unstuck. You have more control – it’s not a passive “apply and wait and hope for the phone to ring” type approach.

You can decide what to target. You can go after what you want. You can take ‘massive action’. You can take the initiative. You can follow up. You can set your own schedule. You can make things happen. You can land dream interviews.

But of course it takes guts. And preparation. And focus. And willingness to step outside some comfort zones. Road B is what Get a Job Fast is all about. It’ll give you alternative strategies. So instead of the helplessness of Road A, you’ll be equipped with smart, ‘guerrilla’ style, highly effective tactics to put to work. And they work fast.

[Get a Job Fast is a learning programme which will help you discover the ‘ins and outs’ of a job hunt in which you take control, where you don’t sit, wait and hope, but in which you make things happen. The end result is more job interviews, more job offers, faster. It’s an approach that cannot fail. Visit www.careerandsuccess.info to apply.]


5 Ways to Break Out of the Rat-Race & Become Financially Independent

If you’re disillusioned with what you thought would be a promising, exciting, rewarding career … but where it’s turning out to be a more of a Guinea-Pig-cage-tread-wheel-like-existence, then here are some ideas.

You may feel frustrated at how your company has no interest in your advancement, they just want to keep you where you are. Or you may feel depressed at how you spend more time in traffic than with your kids; how although you may live comfortably, you’re deeply in debt.

And you’re wondering whether you can keep this up!

Okay, so here are some options to consider. Please join the conversation, if you have ideas place your comments below! This article will be added to as fresh ideas come up. Please note none of this should be considered “financial advice.”

1) Start your own business.

This involves planning, networking, identifying products, developing products, testing the market, seeking funding, building a client base, talking to potential partners, etc.

Obviously the downside to this is that there’s a lot of work to do and there’s always risk. But when one takes a long term view, focusing on a 2 year plan for example, where you make slow but consistent progress toward your goal this is an exciting route to take.

My credo personally has for a long time been: “what am I building?” Instead of just living hand-to-mouth, spending what I earn every month, I like to know that I’m building something that will free me later on.

Often we just sit, overwhelmed by the prospect of building something, so we do nothing. Yet when we look back, we did have time, we did have an idea, but we did nothing much to pursue it. That’s a pity.

Like the saying goes: “when’s the best time to plant a tree? 20 Years ago. The next best time is today.” Bill Gates started from a garage.

My experience:  the above is, by the way, was my route out of the rat-race back in 2000 – 2002. I was doing well working for a personnel agency business. I had clients such as Old Mutual, Shell, Deloitte, Pick ‘n Pay, Shoprite, and BP. But man, I was stressed out. And I asked myself – as always! – “what am I building?”

All along I had an idea. During those 2 years I developed it and made the break in 2002. It started out slow – nerve wracking! – but ultimately as I adapted, it shaped up to be a business that is doing better than ever now in 2013, 12 years down the line.

I live in the country, I work from a home office (a converted horse stable), we have a 4 dogs, 2 cats, a rabbit, a hamster and a horse cruising around our property. The kids have a good, large, healthy environment to grow up in. They’re 11 and 8 now.

Also note: small businesses often fail by trying to apply big business marketing tactics that just drain cash and don’t work. Check out sites like this one (there are many, but this one is a little passion-project of mine!): www.gerardsmarketingideas.info – there’s a free offer there and a bunch of good ideas that will help get more customers.

2) Invest in property.

This is where ultimately the rental income you earn from a property investment  will outstrip your monthly salary. At which point you quit! You also benefit by the growth of the capital asset’s value (eg. a house or flat bought for R350 000 today will grow in capital value by maybe 10% pa PLUS all the while you’ll be earning a rental of perhaps R2 500 pm for it.)

You can similarly invest in equities/shares or unit trusts where also earnings grow to eventually outstrip your salary.

This approach requires very disciplined saving, limiting one’s lifestyle and lots of patience. It also requires having a long-term outlook, this is not for making a ‘quick buck’.

They call compound interest a “miracle” considering how money multiplies over time, how a little becomes a lot given the passage of time and with this phenomenon of interest on interest.

Every house is built brick by brick. The longest journey starts with a single step. A fortune is built little by little. It’s important to make a start. To take action.

3) Write a book.

It’s actually not that complicated! Anyone can do it. Write about your own life experience, keep it focused on “how to.” For example:

  • “How to cope as a single parent”,
  • “Kicking ass at work as a PA”,
  • “How to manage events, the checklist book to make sure you don’t miss a single detail”,
  • “How to analyse your manufacturing company’s accounts and immediately identify how to save 20% in costs and raise production by up to 25%.”

There are so many topics to cover – where of course you aim to help the reader in some way – that it’s impossible not to find some niche of interest.

Look at your work environment: what could be done better? what solutions have you come up with to get things done better, simpler faster? what ideas have you collected from your reading of books or mentoring or seeing others work that can be collected together in a book or guide.

And then initially just publish it yourself – really just finding someone to do the layout (get help at Fiverr.com) and then offering it for sale to people who’ll be interested. You don’t have to go the route of going to a big publisher. It’s a draining process with only a very small possibility of success and actually only a small financial reward in most cases.

Here’s a resource I recommend if you need some guidance on this, you have to pay for it but it’s a small investment considering how this project may free you and that you’ll have step-by-step help. Click Here

Also don’t underestimate what kind of effect this can have on your career – if you write a guide on topics related to your work, how to do it well, how to make a difference – you’ll be taken more seriously, perhaps be paid more because you add value, secure better paying jobs and certainly have more options to follow.

4) This is perhaps the easiest of all.

It’s easy because it means plugging into an already successful system. Try out a system offered by the likes of Multisure, It gives you the opportunity to build a small team that promotes in-demand product offerings. And where you benefit by earning commissions earned by the team (this is very cool because it’s not just you on your own).

This is the kind of opportunity that requires very low start up (as low as R150) and provides excellent training & support, can be done in one’s own time (sometimes just using e-mail, the phone and internet) and has very good earning potential.

Join this kind of program under the umbrella of a good coach who’ll guide and motivate you and this could be a great opportunity.

The downside is that it’s hard work and requires discipline. The likes of Robert Kiyosaki (Rich Dad, Poor Dad) highly recommend it though. He recommends it for the training one gets and for the fact that you’re building a business that works for you (ie. you benefit by the team’s effort).

Other opportunities include Herbalife, AVON & Tupperware. But I prefer an opportunity where there’s no physical stock to carry and demonstrate. That way I can work from home and all hours. So this is something that can work as either a full time or part time business building exercise.

[Drop me an e-mailgerardlr@gmail.com – and I’ll send you more info on what I recommend. Tell me a little about yourself (your current job and qualifications, what you’re looking for) and I’ll send you some more info on what I recommend.]

5) Start a small consultancy.

This is where you offer some service that you can perform for clients after hours. It could be some business service – like writing business plans, designing logos, typing transcripts, bookkeeping – or even offering a personal service like organizing (garages, home storage, cupboard space – y’know just like you’ve seen people do on Oprah, etc).

This is obviously a tough choice because of the time involved. It’s intense. But it may be a possibility for you.

There certainly are other opportunities, and I’ll be adding further ideas right here. Please add to the conversation, comment below here and I’ll try to add your ideas!

Cover Letter for Job Application

A cover letter for job applications is critically important. It can hit hard – getting you an interview even when you’re NOT the best applicant! It’s true. In this article I’ll show you why and how. And I’ll give you some examples of cover letters for job applications.

Why a Cover Letter for Job Applications?

A few good reasons:

1) It guides the mind of the reader – tells them immediately how to ‘file’ and respond to what’s in front of them.

2) It’s a chance for you to be quick, concise and confident – a good message.

3) It’s a chance to put your ‘best foot forward’ – to powerfully show that you’re “the one” for the job, to present your case.

How to Write a Cover Letter for Job Applications

Here are some cover letter principles:

Be quick. Get to the point. Use short paragraphs. Use bullets.

This is not the place to write about how hard working you are.

This is a place to immediately satisfy the reader that you have what’s required for the job.

Cover Letter for Job Application Examples

Here are some examples to learn from and use:


Dear [find and use the personal name of the recruiter]

Re. Accountant Position Advertised in The Star Workplace (June 15, 2009)

“Accountant – available to organise, streamline, and get things back on track.”

My suitability is as follows:

  • NDip in Financial Accounting
  • 5 Years experience in Accounting roles
  • Strong skills in reorganising, getting up to date, and creating “order out of chaos” in an accounting department
  • Rated by KPMG external auditors in 2007 as “super organized”

Please see CV attached for further details.

Available for interviews with immediate effect.

Joan Smith
[Contact Details]


See how short it is. See how it got to the point? No going on and on with irrelevant details. Just a concise, confident, powerful message.

Here’s another cover letter for job applications.


Mr Abel Modiba
Human Resource Manager
XYA Industries

Re: Application for Bookkeeping position.

Dear Mr Modiba

I am applying for the position of BOOKKEEPER as advertised in The Star, Workplace (01.01.2009).

My qualifications match your needs very closely and I believe could be of immediate impact for you.

Your requirements VS. my qualifications are as follows:

  • “3 Years Experience – bookkeeping” : I have 4 years in total with good companies.
  • “Matric” : I have Matric, with a distinction in Maths (SG)
  • “Advanced Pastel” : I have  2 years experience with Pastel and have completed an advanced course.

I’m 100% confident I can quickly slot into the role, but also I look forward to discussing the specific challenges of the role with you and the employer.

I have very positive and contactable references. I will follow up with you on Wednesday January 20.

Yours sincerely,
Richard Jones


Example of a CV

Examples of a CV can be a big help. They can give you fresh ideas of how to ‘power up’ your CV.

What I’m adding here with these CV or resume templates or examples is my commentary on what works, why I’ve written them the way I have. This provides insight into how you can adapt yours in order to improve it.

Example of a CV – Downloads to Study

Just note: a CV is a notoriously difficult document to write for yourself. If you get stuck and feel you need professional help, I’m here for you. See my “Professional CV Writing” page or contact me directly at gerard at jobsearching.co.za

Example of a CV #1 PDF

 Example of a CV #2 PDF

You’ll notice that these CV examples are different to what you’ve ever seen before. I’m a big believer that you need to differentiate yourself with your CV. So instead of doing things the same way you’ve always done them, perhaps it’s time to try a  new approach.

Do I write every CV the way I’ve written these? No. But the principles hold true.

Examples of a CV – Templates to Write Your CV

CV Template #1 (conservative approach) – click and download. Open up in MS Word and add your details – you can also adapt your approach using the principles learned in the examples of a CV above.

CV Template#2 (more international / advanced approach) – click and download. Open up in MS Word and add your details – you can also adapt your approach using the principles learned in the examples of a CV above

Contact me on gerard at jobsearching.co.za if you need my personal help.

CV Templates (MS Word)

A CV template (Word / MS Office) can be helpful! Especially when you just have to submit that CV NOW! So, this is where you’ll find some CV templates in Word that you can use and be guide by.

Quick CV Template Warning

You’d better be careful! Writing a CV – a good CV, one that demands attention and gets more job interviews for you, even twists the arm of the employer to call you – IS NOT about the ‘neat and pretty’ layout. It’s not just about adding your personal details.

Over the last 10 ideas I’ve developed creative, innovative, mind twisting ideas for a CV to grab more attention and demand attention (even if the person behind the CV is pretty average!) So contact me if you need personal help, I’m on gerard at jobsearching.co.za.]

CV Templates Word

Here are some easy-to-use CV/resume examples to help you. They include sample data and a few tips and ideas from me on how to use them effectively.

CV Template Word #1 You can’t get more basic than this. This CV/resume example allows you to quickly add your details in a table. Your CV/resume will be neat, organized, well spaced and professional.

[Click the link above, a box will pop up asking you to save the document to your PC. Once you’ve downloaded the CV template, you’ll be able to edit it in MS Word, or in any other word processing package.]

CV Template Word #2 This is a more progressive approach. And a bit more ‘international’. It also allows you to sell yourself a little better, but with this CV template, it also adds the requires more skill from you – both in using words and in using MS Word for formatting.

[Click the link above, a box will pop up asking you to save the document to your PC. Once you’ve downloaded the CV template, you’ll be able to edit it in MS Word, or in any other word processing package.]

With these MS Word based CV templates you can of course change they way they look to suit yourself – change the font, change the headings, etc. But be careful of getting too elaborate. Keep it simple.

When a CV Template Doesn’t Work

If you get frustrated, if you feel your CV is ending up still a bit weak, not powerful enough to distinguish you from all your job market competitors, I can help you personally. See link/tab “Professional CV Writing” above or contact me directly at gerard at jobsearching.co.za. I’m here for you.