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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

Vector illustration of a student wearing toga climbing stairs made from books

3 sustainable ways in which businesses can assist school leavers prepare for the work environment

 

This has probably been a dialogue for many years. With the unemployment statistics in South Africa hiking up so much, we are yet to have this chat again. We hope this blog sheds some light on business owners, even small business owners – just how they can help support school leavers as they prepare for the work environment. 

There’s a gap we need to bridge between students graduating – finding work. We have so many graduates yet no opportunities. Could it be that they are not workplace ready? Is it a skill problem? Are schools not teaching the skills that are needed in the real world? Are some skills useless in this ever-changing world of technology? So many questions. But these questions need answers if we want to grow as a country. Businesses will not hire a person that won’t increase productivity or help grow the business in any way.

South Africa has graduate unemployment of 12.5% – 22.4 percentage points lower than the national official unemployment rate.

Source: BusinessTech

High school is when learners start thinking about life after school as they also apply to tertiary institutions. Choosing a course can also be tricky, technology is advancing every day – making some skills less needed by humans, we live in an automated world. Things like basic admin and customer inquiries can be taken care of by a robot. In as much as businesses might discriminate against school leavers with no required workplace skills, businesses are also responsible for equipping those school leavers with the skills that they might look for.

..moving right along, let’s look at a few practical ways in which businesses can intervene. 

3 sustainable ways in which businesses can assist school leavers prepare for the work environment 

(1) Job shadowing programs for teens – this has been around for quite some time. This is where businesses use the art of apprenticeship to show the students new itineraries for jobs. This is essentially done during spring break, sometimes even on weekends. 

The great thing about Job Shadowing is that learners can start while they are young – this is a time where they are getting prepared for life after school and still trying to figure things out in terms of their interests, capabilities, and so on. At this time, test, break and make. There’s still have time to think about passions and plan out what they want to do for the rest of their lives. 

(2) Introducing programs that will help the teachers and students to understand what the companies need. This needs both the school and the business to work closely in order to find time and resources to make this kind of program succeed. This is what we touched on briefly in our introduction. It’s inevitable that times are changing, and therefore new skills are needed. 10 years ago, people didn’t make money off social media management, in fact, the career didn’t exist. In today’s time, people make 6 figures from it – it’s a career, and brands/businesses employ them every other day. Perhaps the next point can be an action step towards achieving this:

(3) They can speak at school student assemblies and advise employment opportunities and offer them the tools needed for a specific job – partner with local businesses to see what skills are in high demand and short supply. Some schools do have career days where learners dress up as their future selves working in their dream jobs, while other schools bring in professionals/experts to talk to the learners about career choices. This should be an annual thing in schools, especially for Grade 10’s or even Grade 9 when they are still making a choice about which subject stream to choose. They can create training programs to give not only graduates but also high school learners to equip them with the skills in those jobs with a path to a job at those companies.