Latest News

Answering the difficult questions

Answering the difficult questions

By Martinette van Wymeersch

Guidance to employees who have just entered the work place and graduates trying to secure employment.

Answers mostly asked

Many young professionals with tertiary qualifications find securing employment post-graduation challenging. What could be the reason for this?

According to statistics, youth unemployment is at a rate of 29.8%, this is the highest figure in recent history. The main reason for this high unemployment rate is mainly due to economic recession in the country, companies are cutting back on hiring which in turn limits the job opportunities available. Another reason is the increasing number of graduates completing qualifications annually. The previously mentioned factors mean that employers tend to favour hiring experienced candidates and invest less in training, this compounds one of the most common problems young candidates face, as they do not have sufficient work experience to offer potential employers.

Lack of experience being a contributor toward graduate unemployment, what can young people do to gain more experience?

Obtaining an internship is one of the most effective ways to gain exposure and experience. This is often key to finding permanent employment, various websites advertise internship opportunities; it would be worthwhile to look at these opportunities.

Look for opportunities to gain practical experience while at university on projects, through membership of various bodies or participation in clubs or societies.

Volunteering is also an effective way to show dedication and determination to gain experience and emphasise a candidate’s commitment to find employment.

Do not underestimate temporary assignments or contact work; this often leads to permanent employment.

Are employers willing to take in new graduates for volunteer work?

There is not enough awareness amongst companies about volunteer work. This is something that should be more widely promoted to raise awareness amongst companies to be more willing to take in volunteers.

People often complain about sending out CV’s and not being invited for an interview. What could be the cause of this?

Unfortunately, only a limited number of candidates are invited for an interview, here is what you can do to maximize your chances:

Focus on applying for relevant positions in the context of your education and experience level.

Do not underestimate the value of your CV as a marketing tool.

It is important to do a cover letter, to specify where you are heading in your career and what you have to offer. A cover letter should be precise and not too long.

Ensure that your CV is always updated on the job portals with all the relevant information.

Be proactive, placing your CV on a job portal is not a guarantee of employment. You need to invest time and effort to seek the right positions and apply accordingly.

It is important to ensure your CV leaves a good impression, make sure, it is presented in a professional manner and that all the relevant contact details are correct. Consider having it reviewed by others and recruitment processionals

How can young professionals improve their chances of “landing a job”?

Take initiative and identify companies in your field of study, look at their websites as most companies have a career section where they advertise available vacancies. Attend open days and campus recruitment events to network with staff.

Place a professional photo on your CV. Avoid photographs on public or professional social media accounts where you are holding a drink, on vacation or even those from your wedding.

Ensure there are no spelling or grammatical errors in your CV. Applicants often describe themselves as detail oriented, meticulous and professional yet they neglect to do a spell check. This can leave a bad impression.

Make sure your CV is on a popular job portal such as PNet or CareerJunction and compiled in a professional manner.

Be aware of what you post on social media, prospective employers have access to everything that you post on a public forum and this leaves an impression of you outside of an interview setting.

Research the various job portals and see which agencies are worth contacting.

Be geographically flexible, if you are determined to remain in a certain location this might be limit your career options.

If you do not yet have extensive or relevant experience, add your results and majoring subjects to your CV. Accentuate areas where you might have excelled, list academic, sport and leadership achievements.

What advice would you like to offer inexperienced graduates in managing and directing their careers?

Chase the experience over the money. Take a long term and strategic approach to career planning. When you have the experience, the money will follow.

You determine your own success with a positive attitude and hard work. Be prepared to go the extra mile.

Remain positive, the market is competitive but by staying proactive and utilising all possible channels you will be able to secure employment.

If it is at all possible, continue studying. This is not limited to university today there are more options than ever consider exploring Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) and other platforms. The world is constantly changing and being able to adapt to different positions will heighten your chances of being more appealable to a possible employer.

Broaden your knowledge and skills and stay up to date with the world around you. Invest in yourself and your education; it is the best investment you can make.

Last few tips

Keep your ITC record (credit record) clear. This shows that you are responsible with your finances and that the company can trust you with theirs.

Never burn any bridges, potential employers do reference checks and this could be a great advantage or disadvantage to you. The result is up to you.

Do not be unrealistic about career growth, this will make you despondent.

Focus on the content of positions, not just the title. Titles can be misleading.

Ensure that you know what value you can add to the company, this is not only about what is in it for you.

Get professional help through utilisation of employment agencies.