Career readiness tips for new graduates

As we kicked off the New Year, prospective graduates are now preparing for the next chapter of their lives; which is to get their careers off the ground. This involves deliberating on whether to go into self-employment, doing an internship or securing full-time employment.

The transition from campus and into the workplace requires extensive preparations. Don’t underestimate the ground work that you need to do, both from a mental and practical point of view. It starts with the seemingly obvious wardrobe overhaul right down to articulating your value proposition to your prospective employer. All of this can be quite overwhelming for new graduates.

For this reason, the onus is on you to lay the necessary foundations to make a good first impression as you build your career. Companies look for candidates who stand out amongst the crowd and if a graduate puts in the effort to help set them apart from their peers, it is likely to yield positive results.

Young graduate professionals are offered the following points in preparation for this new phase of their lives.

The value of work experience as a student

Building your work profile during your student years means that you can acquire fundamental skills along the way. Whether you found part-time employment as a tutor or store assistant, the experience can be invaluable as you learn how to establish professional relationships and hopefully build a reputable track-record.

Have a well-written CV

It is essential to have a well-constructed and concise CV. Your CV, which should always be accompanied by a cover letter, is a potential employer’s first point of contact with you and should position you appropriately. The information should be current and applicable to the role you are applying for, while amplifying your personal strengths and unique characteristics. Apart from documenting critical personal details, the record should only include accurate information about your educational background & qualifications, previous work experience and references.

Equip yourself with basic skills

Being competent in basic skills such as computer literacy, communication (verbal and oral), time management, problem solving and teamwork is important. It is equally important to ensure that you are able to validate these claims with evidence. Graduates need to consider that companies may not have the capacity to teach new staff skills that they often consider as basic and a prerequisite.  

Visit your on-campus career centre

Most universities and technikons offer free career guidance and counselling on-campus through their Careers centres. They often have highly experienced staff that can facilitate counselling, career guidance and assessment sessions, and provide valuable insights on preparing for interviews as well as other important recruitment factors one needs to consider.

Update your online profiles

Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the some of the most common platforms that some companies use to conduct background checks on potential candidates. Always ensure your online profiles are updated accordingly and free of any unsavoury information that may compromise you.

Be conscious of the content you share on these platforms as it can backfire and damage your reputation when on the job-search. When used correctly LinkedIn or Who’s Who SA, which are aimed at professionals, allow one to create, manage and grow their personal brand and reputation. These online platforms enable professional connections with other professionals and can also match potential job opportunities aligned to your profile.  

Vuyo Kobokoane is the Executive Head at PPS Foundation.

What makes responsive and responsible leaders for sustainable workplaces?

The theme of the 2017 World Economic Forum was a call for responsive and responsible leadership, emphasising that we are living in a world marked by uncertainty, volatility and deep transformational changes.

When we think about leadership, and in particular about the credibility of leadership, one of the first things we look at is a leader’s decision-making process, what they do in the heat of the moment and how they choose between two apparent ‘rights’. It takes a leader who is mindful and has a heart, spirit and mind to be able to choose the best ‘right’ at that moment.

The issue around being mindful is also linked to ethical and servant leadership. Great leaders are mindful of what they say, how they say it, and the impact of their words on those that they are talking to. This means that they need to ‘think about their thinking’ before they verbalise their thoughts.

How does that relate to responsiveness and responsibility?

In old frameworks of leadership, the expectation was that ‘if you want to have an opinion, I’ll give you one. Now, however, for a business environment to be successful, responsive and responsible leaders know that they need opinions from their teams, and they need to fully understand the origin and thought processes behind those opinions. Creative solutions to various challenges come from diverse sources and discussing and understanding the various opinions and suggestions brought to the table in an open manner is necessary. It means that a business is likely to be able to respond quickly and effectively to challenges and opportunities, and that the solution is sure to be properly planned and executed.

Thinking about our thinking is more than just working out how a scenario will impact the business – it’s about taking bigger picture view. As organisations adopt this mindset, a distinctive winning culture emerges.

The forums at WEF said that the world belongs to and will belong innovation-based economies that are led by responsive and responsive leaders, and  the same applies to organisations.

You must be an innovative organisation to reap benefits of modern economies, because without innovation, your business will die. Innovation is only possible when there’s collaboration and collaboration is only possible in a high trust environment. High trust is only possible in organisations led by credible, responsive and responsible leaders.

Building a responsive and responsible framework requires a global recognition of interdependency, and a welcoming of the element of being human. We are seeing that those leaders that display more humanitarian qualities, enjoy better results.

Marlinie Ramsamy is the CEO of FranklinCovey South Africa.

What are the benefits of Cloud backup?

The past year has seen South African businesses migrate a substantial amount of their data to the Cloud. Its believed this will bring a renewed focus to the benefits of extending such a rollout into the development of a Cloud backup strategy.

A Cloud backup strategy is less of a technical thing to implement and more of a mental one. The principles remain the same with the environment being the key difference. Traditionally, backups were more physical and required less virtual thinking. Now it is all about looking at the possibilities without having to be concerned about the infrastructure.

This requires a different mindset – one that looks beyond the way things have been working and more mindful of the requirements of the digital age. Having a Cloud backup solution allows for better control over backups and faster response times when it comes to restoring data. More importantly, it also provides the business with an automated off-site step when it comes to redundancy.

In many respects, using the cloud is becoming the ‘new’ traditional way of backing up. We are moving beyond relying on a physical environment to one that is more out of the box and requires less infrastructure. This change of focus opens the door to different opportunities when it comes to leveraging data in the Cloud.

However, despite this, the organisation should never lose sight of its business continuity requirements. These are the heartbeat of the business. Like cash flow, a business can only operate for so long without access to its data. A question every decision-maker needs to ask is if a disaster was to occur, is the company satisfied with their solution to ensure operations continue?

The Cloud should not change this. If anything, embracing Cloud backup should have the same level of risk mitigation than any other kind of initiative the company embarks on. Being on the Cloud does not change this. There still needs to be systems in place to protect the original data as well as that of the backups.

Going the Cloud route means the business must be mindful of the fact that data is kept at another location. So, while the first step would be to ensure the integrity and security of its data, the next step is very much about having a backup strategy in place to begin with.

Accessibility of the backed-up data is another consideration. Going the Cloud route allows businesses to function in the most elegant way possible without worrying about digging out old tape backups and trying to find files in archives. And this is when the magic really starts happening. Imagine if you can fail over from your physical on-site solution to a virtual Cloud offering without even having to schedule down time. With the Cloud, it is possible.

Of course, a business will still need a smooth and low maintenance solution that forms part of business continuity. The Cloud backup must provide a convenient way of doing things. If a disaster should occur, the company needs to recover quickly.

As with any backup strategy, testing becomes an integral component of this. If a company does not perform frequent checks to see whether their data is backed up (and recoverable), then all of this means very little. It is often in the testing stages where gaps in the backup strategy are discovered and can be corrected without significantly impacting on daily operations. However, if these errors are only discovered during an actual disaster, the consequences can be more devastating.

But if Cloud backups are seen to be fast approaching the status quo stage in South Africa, what is the next step for the technology?

Bringing down disaster recovery cost for South African businesses is what is going to drive the real impact (and benefits) of doing Cloud backups. This will result in an environment where businesses can continue operating uninterrupted. Locally, service providers and businesses are focused on all aspects of data. The focus is now on making it work more efficiently and better to fit requirements.

Adding complexity to this is the notion of instant data which is turning backup strategies on its head. Users want access to information in real-time and expect a similar experience from backups. It is no longer good enough to restore information in a couple of hours’ time – the connected business demands a response time of 15 minutes or less.

Cost is driving where much of the Cloud backup focus will lie for the immediate future. But irrespective of the level at which it is incorporated, the Cloud does provide the business with additional options. Throughout this, it is important to ensure that all legal and regulatory requirements are adhered to. As with the security and privacy arguments of the past, compliance has also become less of an issue with providers ticking all the relevant boxes.

Backups and disaster recovery are no longer areas only left for the tech-savvy. Modern solutions have made it more accessible to a wider employee base resulting in more efficient and productive businesses. This more intuitive approach has made disaster recovery a more effective process in organisations willing to embrace more modern strategies around their backups.

These are exciting times for Cloud backups in South Africa. Given the cost benefits and efficiency improvements of having data available (and retrievable) at the click of a button, very few business can afford to still keep their focus on premise-based solutions for longer.

Phillip de Bruyn is the Customer Experience Manager at Redstor.

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