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Job seeking strategies for young jobseekers when they experience rejection

They say “it takes a village to raise a kid”, indeed it does. The unemployment statistics are getting worse by the year. It was reported on the news:

“According to Statistics South Africa (StatsSA), youth aged 15-24 years and 25-34 years recorded the highest unemployment rates of approximately 66.6% and 43.5% respectively”. Pupils with no educational background make up a large percentage of this (52,4%), while those with just matric (37,7%) 

Is it really that there aren’t enough opportunities for everyone, or that young job seekers don’t know how to make themselves employable? Let’s explore both.  

Just at the start of the new year [2022], LinkedIn was filled with “starting a new role”, “employed”, and “promoted”. So is it really that the jobs aren’t there? It’s arguable, but we believe that there is something that can be done. 

Rejection will always be there, it’s a skill you need to possess in life because you will experience it nonetheless. Don’t take it personally. It’s important to remember that companies hire people who are a fit for THEM, therefore keep looking for a company that’s also a fit for YOU. Sometimes it’s not that you don’t qualify for the position, but that you don’t fit in their work culture – which is one of the important things. Always ask for constructive feedback. 

Here are 5 ways you can improve your job hunting search and increase your chances of getting hired: 

(1) Learn about the company beyond their offerings, find out about their values, work culture, vision, all those other important things. You can usually find this on their website. If you can’t find this information anywhere, these should be the questions you ask them during the interview. Knowing this kind of information helps you give better responses because you would have all the information about what they stand for, what they value, and maybe even what they look for in an employee, thus helping you better structure your responses.

(2) Ask for constructive feedback. Many might not know, but you actually do have the right to ask why you were not a successful candidate. This kind of feedback can help you in your next interview. Taking rejection gracefully can be so difficult, but showing interest might even impress them because they can now see you are open to learning/improving and maybe even taking constructive criticism… which could potentially increase your chances of them calling you the next time they hire. 

(3) Review your job search process. One way to do this is to ask for feedback from the companies to which you have applied to. Do your research, keep up with the times. Be strategic about it. We elaborated on this point more on (5) below. 

(4) Take a break. 

“Sometimes you can’t find a solution because you’re just too close to the problem. Take a step back. Breathe. Gain perspective then get back to it when you are ready.” ~ Lebo Lion

People who have been job hunting for a long time, especially, will tell you how draining it can get, don’t exhaust yourself too much. In anything (that requires effort), you have to take breaks in between. The quote above explains this beautifully, you could be going about it the wrong way but not noticing because you are desperate to get a job. Times are tough, and circumstances push us to get up and do something. But once in a while, just once in a while…a break is important. 

(5) Network with your previous interviewers and recruiters. Networking is important, hence people like to say “networking is important, you could literally get rich just by knowing/being associated with rich people”. This can expose you to a lot of opportunities, and thanks to social media this has gotten a lot easier. Apps like LinkedIn have made it easier to connect with people like recruiters, decision-makers, and even employees of people who work for the same company you might wish to work for. Below is a script you can use to break the ice and start a conversation:

Hi, my name is ______ and I currently work as a ______at______. I’m really interested in transitioning my career towards X and would love to connect to learn more about your role and experiences working at Company Y.

Looking forward to chatting! Thank you