A message to fellow South African graduates

I have always thought that things will be easy or go my way as I had planned them, but they are not and they sure don’t. At least this is one of the things I know for sure now. So this is a warning to you graduates or graduates-to-be.

Life after graduation has never been easier than you think or would have thought nor has it ever been easier for your brothers and sisters and it sure isn’t going to be easy for your now. Be warned!

When at university, for those who are lucky and have the opportunity, you always have a vision of how your life would be, which company you’d like to work for and in which city. And most of the time, we fantasize our big day – Graduation. And still, if you’re lucky this will be the day on which you will look back and say “wow, I made it,” or we, Batswana say: “Ao! Motho a tla a fetsa.”

Graduation is again the day on which you cherish and thank God for having been with you throughout your study years and life of course, in dark and shiny days, in days when you’ve shed tears of joy and pain. But, to many students, graduation is an end of one journey and a start of another. One of them and being the most popular is “job hunting.”

This, job hunting, is one of the challenges that the South Africa government faces, and more especially, its graduates.

Some of them spend three to four years without formal employment, if not employment at all. Some among the unemployed – because of desperation and circumstances they find themselves in – end up in jails as a result of illegal or incriminating activities they were involved in. Or worse, they give in to life.

During my final year at university, finding employment – as it’s always the goal for every graduate – within a year after my graduation was the aim and goal. However, it has never been any easier finding a job let alone keeping one. It’s hard-work, dedication, passion, love-for-what-you-do and the ability to find ways to make your work work for you.

I have always listened and read experts advices and comments, from The Star, City Press, Sunday Times, HR Future, SA FM, Careerjuntion.co.za to mention but a few – both on-air and in the media – that graduates should do every little thing at their disposal that can/will give them some sort experience or exposure to the working environment. This, according to experts, if added the job applicants’ CVs, will give the impression that at least one has/had working experience. Bull!

Although this experience might look good – the only problem is, I think, when one has experience in one field different from the field applying to/for at that time. For example, in my final year at university, I was appointed a Student Assistant which involved administration work, making copies and invigilation of junior students during tests or tutorials.

As an HR manager or recruiting agent – given my less-than- a- year working experience, having completed my Bachelors of Administration and majored with Human Resource Management and Public Administration, with No HR experience – would you consider me for HR Clerk, Administrator or Officer position? I doubt!

This is because you’d now bring in relevant experience in HR-field into the picture. Hence my belief that its useless getting any work experience as one possibly can – be it waitering or volunteering – as in the end, that experience is not going to get you a job or at least, secure one.
Experience has taught me that convincing someone to hire you is one of the challenges that we all face especially the inexperienced graduates, unless, for example: your are Xolela Mangcu or Sipho Seepe, whereby you would get publishing media houses asking you to become a columnist or a contributor to their publication(s).

But you and I are not such people, therefore if you are an Accounting or HR graduate, you are going to have some difficulties in convincing Ernest & Young or even the Department of Public Administration to hire you.

Despite the experience, or lack therefore, I have had difficulties in convincing HR managers too, more especially the Recruiting agents.

Lately, I have resorted to advertising myself on the likes of http://johannesburg.gumtree.co.za and http://www.bizcommunity.com and even http://www.facebook.com. The latter, I have realized, is even used by recruiting agents. They (recruiting agents) create new groups whereby job seekers – as they are known – become members and get all the latest news or job advertisements.

As a job seeker with an advert in the above-mentioned sites or social networking, you need to be very careful that you do not put information that may put your life at risk, and again be careful of the nasty and nuddy pictures you have on your profile as this might send a bad and negative image to prospective employers about you. As a result, the chances of you being recruited or considered for any position will be NIL!

The following are a few of the employment sites that you can use as a job seeker to advertise your skills, knowledge and potential to prospective employer:

http://www.careerjunction.co.za/,
http://www.ioljobs.co.za/, and
http://www.careers24.com/.

Until of late, I have read experts write and say that: lecturers can be used as source of employment especially for graduates. Although at the time of writing this had not borne any fruits, however, a lecturer whom I was under her supervision while a student Assistant at the university called me and said that one of her ex-student’s company was looking for a graduate to groom as an HR Clerk.

After a few seconds, I approved that she can give him my number, which she did.
And the following day I got a call for an interview – which a short notice –
and resisted, and then considered Saturday for an interview. This, after I
took a few days off work and was not sure if I will be allowed to take any
more days off. The same guy called me the following day for an interview the
next day, and I ultimately gave in and wanted to see how far it will take
me.

Friday morning I took a taxi to Midrand, Johannesburg for an interview. On Monday afternoon, the following week, I got a call from the same guy who called me before, and who happened to be one of the interview panelist to confirm my Appointment to the position I went for an interview for. See!

A few weeks before this interview, I went for an Internship interview at Quest, a recruiting agent in Pretoria, Hatfield. Today, at the time of writing, I got a call from N, one of the panelists to inform me that because of the “cap” the SITA had put on the internships – she will not be in a position to confirm my appointment for that intern. She, however, will be in contact me in a few days as they (she and her colleague) have decided that I am the right person for the internship, and hope I’d be available then.

The dilemma for me at this stage was that: I didn’t tell her of my new employment, to avoid any unforeseen circumstances or anything as such. This was because I hadn’t received a letter of Appointment for my recent interview and didn’t want to ruin my chances in case that appointment is decided upon otherwise in a short space of time when I had already turned down an Internship opportunity despite it being for 6 months only. In other words, I had a Plan B.

As mentioned before that we all have dreams and want to see ourselves somewhere in the future being successful, when all dreams and success do not happen – we then lose it (focus) – become depressed, at times give in to life and even care less.

This, losing It, is what happened to me early this year, 2008 when I have been to every interview and hardly scored at least a chance for a second one.

If anything, a Mini-survey done by Umsobomvu Youth Fund’s Jobs and Opportunities Seeker’s Database which indicated that candidates [job seekers] who were short-listed from its database did not become employed because they “were not articulate, could not sell themselves to clients, and were not confident about their abilities to cope with the advertised position” is anything to go by, then I, at least now, know why all my previous employment interview have been unsuccessful.

Maybe you too, can learn from this. I have had to learn the hard way!

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