Your first year of work
by Shelagh Foster, (Macmillan, R160)


Picture this: you walk into your first-ever interview and courteously greet your interviewer, “What’s up?”

The faint sigh from the interviewer points to a painfully obvious fact – that there is nothing above your heads that is worth mentioning or speculating about.

You don’t want to be this person. Interview neurosis sucks as it is! And incidentally, many young people believe all they have to do to land the job is be their charming selves at the interview.

This usually backfires, because the company is looking for a qualified employee, not a friend.

It is because of this that, when entering the real world, you should see yourself as a one-(wo)man small to medium enterprise. And within this enterprise, you have to be the chief executive, head of communications, head of marketing and finance and of everything else.

Not only are you in a position of leadership, you also have to be the employee at every level of this enterprise called self – down to the cleaning staff.

In a nutshell, this is what Shelagh Foster, a communications expert, tries to address in what she refers to as the most important piece of writing she has ever done.

She takes a holistic approach to job seeking, which really makes you admire her attention to detail. In one section she presents a column that lists “experience” on one side and “workplace relevance” on the other.

So where it will have “achieved three distinctions in diploma while working part-time at local hardware store” on the experience side, it will have “good multi-tasker” listed under workplace relevance.

This is the stuff that CVs are made of – in every sense.

The “friendly and flirting” column was also one that stuck in my mind, because, like many of the lessons Foster teaches, they can be applied outside of the workplace, especially because having someone mistake your friendliness for flirting is hitting a point of no return in most cases.

In the bigger picture of developing the enterprise called self, the chief executive should put it to the heads of department that getting this book would be tantamount to hiring an expert business consultant indefinitely on a once-off fee.

A deal which, all should agree, is invaluable. – Tshepo Tshabalala