Job search advice from 5 top recruiters in SA.

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There is an enormous amount of job search advice that is freely available. Just a quick Google search will provide hundreds of websites, all promising to have the very best advice for your job search. In fact, there is so much free advice available, that it often becomes difficult to pick out what to follow and what to ignore.

So what is the best piece of job search advice every job seeker in South Africa should be aware of? I don’t have the answer to that question! But, fortunately for you, I know who does. Yes, I am talking about some of the top recruiters in the country. I reached out to the 5 best recruiters I know and asked them for their best piece of advice just for you guys. So, without wasting any more time on this introduction, let’s jump in and find out exactly what every job seeker should know.

Advice from the 5 top recruiters in South Africa.

1) Lucy Botha of Kendrick Recruitment

Lucy is the owner of Kendrick Recruitment and recruits for the 5* luxury Hospitality Industry. I have personally worked with Lucy and can vouch for her professionalism and industry experience. If you are looking for a new position in the hospitality industry you should definitely check out her website and Facebook page.

So what does Lucy feel you should remember when searching for a new job? This is the advice she was kind enough to send me:

Recruiting for the 5* luxury hospitality industry requires high levels of attention to detail, we are looking for candidates who are able to showcase this from the word go. A few top tips of what we look for on our initial screening of CV’s.


  • Personalisation to the role of agent. Please check your cover letter has the correct role title that you are applying for and that the email is addressed to a person if you are sending it directly to someone.
  • Presentation is key, layout your email and CV in an easy to read format. First impressions count!
  • Ensure your CV is up to date. Don’t have a CV dated from years ago as this shows you are not committed
  • Most importantly, apply for roles that fit your experience! Job portals especially allow you to apply for multiple jobs quickly however from an agent side seeing candidates apply for several unrelated roles leaves us wondering if you’ve read the job specifications provided, or have an idea of where you want to go career wise.

Make sure you do something you love! Find a company that you can relate to that that you believe in what they stand for. Aligning a companies beliefs with your own will give you a sense of company purpose and leads to a happier workplace and therefore longevity and all the benefits that come with that!

2) Hayley Cooper from Wild Dreams Hospitality

Hayley is the owner of Wild Dreams Hospitality and also recruits for the hospitality industry. Hayley not only runs her recruitment company, but she also manages a 5* lodge in the Lowveld, assists companies with HR consulting, and even offers a vegan catering consulting service. I know, where does she find the time. Hayley has a wonderful reputation in the recruitment industry and is known for her friendly and approachable nature. Although hospitality vacancies are scarce at the moment there are a few positions you should check out on her website.

Hayley is always happy to assist job seekers and was kind enough to share this little nugget of advice with me:

If I had to pick one thing for a job seeker to take into consideration it would be, simply: PASSION!

Passion is SO important, in every industry! and this can be shown right from your initial job search through until the moment you hear the words ‘we would like to offer you the job’


A few examples of what I mean to show your passion throughout are …


  1. When ”advertising” yourself on social media as looking for a position, don’t put something like ”I am looking for any job, will work anywhere, doing anything” employers are only interested in employing staff who are excited about the industry and truly love what they do, so a better advert would be: ”I am Hayley, I have been in the hospitality sector for 2 years in a front of house position, I am hugely passionate about the industry and love seeing my enthusiasm rub off, not only on the guests but also on my fellow colleagues. I would be very excited to hear about any similar vacancies where I can grown within this industry”
  2. When submitting your CV, either to an employer or to a recruiter, write a paragraph in the email, introducing yourself and why you are excited to be applying for a vacancy either at the specific company or through the recruiter. So often we receive emails with no subject heading and no content in the actual email so it’s important to show your passion for finding a position and why you should be considered.
  3. When having a telephonic pre-interview make sure your passion shines through by researching the company so you sound excited to potentially work for them, use emotive words such as ”excited, happy, enthusiastic, inspired, and passionate” when describing how you work, or why you would be suited to the vacancy you are applying for. Its also a fact that you can ”hear” through a phone call if someone is smiling so make sure you are!
  4. When attending an in-person interview, make sure you present yourself in a professional way, smile, shake hands, use eye contact and sit up straight, you should reflect that you are happy to be at the company and looking forward to the interview process and the prospect of getting this job.
  5. After the interview, thank them for their time and send a follow up email stating your enthusiasm for the company and the position.

Passion is key!

3) Tanya Mulder of TM Recruitment

Tanya Mulder is the Managing Member of TM Recruitment and has over 18 years of experience within the recruitment industry. Her company works with many companies from different industries, servicing their recruitment needs. This includes mining, engineering, manufacturing, FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods), pharmaceutical, medical, legal, hotel and event management, aviation, logistics, and IT. I think it is safe to say that Tanya would describe herself as a generalist, not bound to a specific industry. Tanya’s website is currently being revamped and I will post the link here as soon as it is completed. In the meantime, she is very active on Linkedin and I would encourage you to connect with her on the site if you are looking for a top-class recruiter.

So without further ado, what does a recruiter with over 18 years in the industry feel you should remember when searching for a new job? Let’s find out:

One of the most important things that must be taken into consideration is the content of your CV.


People should not assume their CV’s are too long. In fact, it’s a good idea to have a detailed comprehensive CV and a shortened version as well with updated information that is correct.


Ensure your CV has been updated accordingly and that the position you are applying for is in line with your expertise as per the job description that is being advertised. Take the time to READ the advert and NOT just apply. It wastes unnecessary time having to go through CV’s and information that is not updated or even have any relevance to the position you applying to.


Job seekers must take pride in positions they are applying to, and must take note of salaries that are on offer. A lot people have a tendency to think well let’s just apply and hope for the best. Take the time to ensure your CV is in the right context with a recent photo of yourself. Don’t put your CV in CAPITAL LETTERS, this is totally unprofessional.


Take the time and write an introduction to the recruiter or person advertising the position advising them a little about yourself and what attributes you have to offer, but it must be in line with the job specification.


Don’t get someone to write an email on your behalf or let someone else do your CV for you. When we as recruiters read the CV’s they might look fantastic, but communication is just as important. If you have not compiled your own CV it will be obvious when I call to speak with you. By all means, seek advice or guidance, but take the time as a Job Seeker to do your own resume.


Do not apply for a job with the expectation of getting a salary increase, if you not serious about leaving – Counter Offer is unprofessional for both the Employee and the Employer.


If you expect a response from your CV, take the time to load your details correctly on the respective job portals correctly. Be unique as the Job Seeker and “Brand” yourself to receive a call from a recruiter for the perfect job you are after.


Happy Job Seeking – we look forward to receiving your details.

4) Melanie Reyneke from SciTech Placements

Melanie is the owner and specialist recruiter at SciTech Placements. She is passionate about solving recruitment needs and offering solutions to a companies’ recruitment problems. Her aim is to constantly add value and best serve her clients through a positive mindset and inspiring attitude. Melanie recruits for the Science, Engineering, and IT sectors. If you are currently searching for a vacancy in one of these areas, or you need a recruitment solution for your company why not check out her website and get in touch.

Melanie was kind enough to share the following advice with me, and even threw in a bonus bit of advice for any aspiring entrepreneurs out there:

Advice for Job Seekers in South Africa:

  • Be patient and stay focused
  • Looking after yourself and your own mental health (level of focus and concentration) while mindfully looking/researching new vacancies is crucial for success
  • Your mental health will determine your level of success in landing a job
  • Exercise and get out in nature to alleviate some conscious and subconscious tension
  • Become mindful of your own emotions and learn to accept if one door closes another will open
  • Looking for a job IS a job
  • Dress for the success you seek
  • Do extra effort, such as sending referral or motivation letters from previous employers
  • Solve a problem for a potential employer or WOW them in the interview by presenting your value-added skills to them
  • Do not go for an interview or Apply for a Job begging, go for an interview Giving (skills, enthusiasm)
  • Reveal your skills and match it to how it can Benefit the Company

If you can’t land a job, start a company, by following the next tips:

Tips for Young & Aspiring Entrepreneurs in South Africa:

  • There is dignity in wanting to provide for your family, selling/trading can be a profitable business
  • Catering is one of the most researched items on Google
  • Learn a new skill and outsource your skill to help others (for a fee)
  • Listen & research what others need and provide it

5) Laurence Stubbs of Selhurst Recruitment Consulting

Last but not least is Laurence Stubbs, owner of Selhurst Recruitment. Laurence recruits for the financial, legal, and IT sectors. And with over 25 years of experience as a recruiter, not only in South Africa but the UK as well, I feel confidant that Laurence is suitably qualified to offer some great advice. Please visit the Selhurst website to view their available vacancies.

So what advice does a recruiter with over 25 years in the industry have for us? Let’s find out:

The tougher the economic conditions, the more competition there is for the few jobs that are available, and the more people resort to spamming their CVs to anyone and everyone. This results in a lot of wasted effort and frustration as all you end up with is a heap of rejection emails or, in most cases, nothing at all. People log onto job boards and press send on any job that they think they may be suitable for, usually by only reading the job title on the advert. Alternatively, they send unsolicited emails to recruitment consultants and HR Managers with desperate pleas for a job.


This is not going to work, so take a deep breath and rather than waste your time on applications that are going no-where, take some time to think and plan. Here are some questions to help you:

  1. What job do I want to do? What titles do these jobs have?
  2. What companies have these jobs?
  3. Do I have the right skills, experience and qualifications to do these jobs?
  4. If I have all the above, are they clearly set out in my CV?
  5. Are my accomplishments and achievements highlighted in my CV?
  6. How far am I willing to travel each day for a job / work?
  7. What salary do I need (and you must do an accurate financial need analysis)?
  8. What value can I bring to a potential employer?

Very few job seekers do this planning exercise, so the fact that you have done it will make you stand out. You will clearly know what companies you need to target, where they are and exactly what job you are looking for (no more ‘I’ll do anything’). You can now focus on applying for jobs that you are qualified to do, and you will know what value you will bring.


This last point is important; be able to demonstrate your value to a potential employer. You can only do this if you have taken time to think about it.


If you are currently busy with a job search or planning to make a change in the near future you need to be prepared. Remembering these words of wisdom from some of the very best recruiters in South Africa will certainly ensure you start with your very best foot forward.

I would like to say thank you once again to Lucy, Hayley, Tanya, Melanie, and Laurence. On behalf of every job seeker reading this article, thank you all for taking the time to put together these super little gems of advice. And if you are a job seeker please let us know in the comments below which piece of advice you have found most helpful. I look forward to hearing from you.

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