Here at Oxbridge Academy, one of the most commonly asked questions we get is: “How do I get a job after finishing my qualification?” Finding employment in South Africa can be a huge challenge for recent graduates. With International Worker’s Day approaching, we’re suggesting several ways to improve your chances of finding a job when you complete your studies.

The unemployment problem

According to Statistics South Africa, South Africa’s youth unemployment rate (including people between the ages of 15 and 34) stood at 43.8% at the end of 2018. This makes for depressing reading, especially for young people who have recently finished their college studies and are now looking for work. It must be recognised, however, that most of South Africa’s unemployed youth have no matric or higher education. Fortunately, your chances of finding a job become much higher when you do have a qualification.

Top 6 tips for finding a job this year

If landing your first permanent job is a priority for you this year, then follow these 6 top tips.

  1. Make sure you’re studying towards your passion

Are you enjoying your studies? If you’re currently studying, then this is possibly the most important thing to ask yourself. What you choose to study will lay platform for the day-to-day work you will be doing in your career. If you aren’t enjoying your course, then this should be a warning sign for you. On the other hand, if you feel interested and passionate about the material, then you’ll feel motivated to finish your course and start looking for work in a field that you know you’ll enjoy.

  • Focus on building experience

In job advertisements, employers are increasingly listing work experience as an essential requirement. Not being able to find this work experience is a common complaint for many recent graduates. The fact is that work experience does not have to take the form of a permanent position. If you haven’t managed to land permanent employment immediately after graduating, then there are other ways to build your experience. Approach a company to ask whether you can volunteer to work there. Or explore freelancing websites such as oDesk or Upwork, where you can find potential work.

Remember to look for a variety of ways to keep expanding your skills, through things like short courses, video tutorials or soft skills development. All of this will work in your favour when you start submitting job applications.      

  • Look beyond the classifieds

You’ll find plenty of jobs advertised on online job sites, as well as in the classifieds section of newspapers. But many companies do not to use these mediums when advertising positions, preferring to post vacancies on their own website. So when you’re searching for a job, make a list of the companies you see yourself wanting to work for, head to their websites and look for the “Careers” or “Working for Us” section to view vacancies. This might give you an inside track over competing candidates, who may not be aware that these vacancies are available. 

  • Create a great CV and cover letter

Your CV will often be your very first contact with a potential employer. It’s therefore also your chance to make a good first impression. When you’re competing against potentially hundreds of other candidates, you need to get it right. Your CV should look slick, professional and well-organised. Make sure that it is concise and free from any errors in spelling or grammar. Learn How to Write a CV That Will Outshine the Competition.  Your cover letter should support some of the points in your CV, explaining why you would be perfect for the job. Follow these 6 Steps for Writing a Cover Letter That Will Get You a Job Interview.

  • Ace your interview!

If you’ve been invited for an interview, then it’s vital that you prepare thoroughly by doing your research; formulating answers to possible questions and avoiding common mistakes. Read our power tips for interviews here. Also look at 7 Things You Should Never Do in an Interview. If you’re having an interview over the phone or by video call, then follow these 3 Tips for Acing Phone and Skype Interviews.

  • Never lose hope

Having a job application turned down can be a discouraging experience. But barely anyone – and this includes people with university degrees or years of experience – gets accepted into a job straight away. You need to accept the fact that South Africa has extremely high levels of competition for jobs. Spread your net as wide as you can, applying for as many available positions as possible. Don’t feel discouraged if you get turned down; rather use it as a learning experience. Keep on applying, and keep on looking for ways to make you more attractive to employers, by enhancing your skills and experience. Sooner or later, the door will open for you!

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