Your Career

Expert tips on how to get a job in SA this year – including creating your own experience

Business Insider SA
  • SA's job-market outlook is the worst it has been in five years, according to one workforce group.
  • This as the country’s unemployment figure is rising – and an estimated 500,000 matriculants enter the job market. 
  • We spoke to experts about how to get a job this tough competitive job market. Here are their top tips.
  • For more visit Business Insider South Africa.

The jobs outlook in South Africa is the worst it’s been in five years, ManpowerGroup SA says.

Meanwhile unemployment rose to 29.1 %, or 6.7-million people, from 27.6% at the beginning of the year – the highest since 2008.

And that just as an estimated 500,000 matriculants are entering the job market this year, increasingly the competition for scarce jobs even more.

Even those with better qualifications are not exempt; only 0.2% of the 8,000 jobs advertised on Gumtree are looking for graduates, the platform's spokesperson Estelle Nagel says.  

Business Insider South Africa spoke to a range of experts about how one gets a job in such a tough market. Here are their top tips for landing a job in 2020.

Get the CV – and social media – basics right.

Organisations today are as interested in your CV as they are in your internet activity, Nishan Pillay, executive director for open programmes at the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) says. So make sure your CV looks good and is perfectly spell-checked – but also update your LinkedIn profile.

Most good human resource departments will also research someone’s social media before an interview, Gumtree’s Nagel says. Applicants should make sure that their online footprint project the image they’d like future employers to see.

“If there are a few pictures from your New Year’s bash that you’d prefer your future boss not to see, set your social media accounts to private.” 

But while you can hide previous online indiscretions, be transparent and honest in your CVs. This includes not exaggerating or lying about experience, says Pillay.

And don't forget to let the references you list on your CV know they may be getting calls, Nagel says.

Prepare for interviews – and be early.

Applicants often forget to think about logistics when they apply for a job, Christiaan van den Berg from entry-level jobs platform JobJack says. For example, people should determine beforehand how much daily transport will cost to get to the job, and determine if the salary will be worth it. 

Review the job requirements, research the company, practice the answers to possible interview questions, and prepare questions you may have for the interviewer, Van den Berg says. Also think about your strengths and weaknesses, a question often asked in interviews.

Then arrive 15 minutes before an interview, to show how serious you are. 

Talk less in interviews.

People who don’t talk about themselves too much make a better impression, Kumeshnee West, director of executive education at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business (GSB) says.

A recent Harvard study show that people spend 60% of their conversations talking about themselves.

“By listening more and asking informed questions, you show interest as opposed to looking self-absorbed and narcissistic,” West says. 

Dress up.

Always dress one level up from the organisation you're interviewing with, says GIBS’ Pillay. “If they are wearing flip-flops, you wear sneakers.” 

Watch out for too many accessories, avoid hats and sunglasses, and err on the side of conservative, says JobJack’s Van den Berg.

“Button-up shirts are a good choice.”

If you don’t have experience, work at it.

If you are a recent graduate with little or no experience, you are at a disadvantage, Gumtree’s Nagel says. She suggests volunteering or working at an unpaid internship in the field you'd like to enter – even if it’s one or two days a week.

“Treat that position like a paying gig – who knows, it may become one if you make a good impression.”

You can also try starting your own business in a field such as babysitting, dog-walking, house sitting, and mowing lawns, to show initiative.

Even if you aren't entirely new to the job market, life-long learning is a non-negotiable for employers, says GIBS’ Pillay. That doesn’t have to be academic or formal learning which cost money; the internet has numerous free opportunities to expand your knowledge. Just ensure you are using reputable content providers.

Network, network, and network.

Women and other minority groups tend to underestimate how much networking can help them professionally, says Liz de Wet, convener of the Executive Women in Leadership programme at the UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB).

Networking can provide potential job opportunities, and be a foot in the door.

You can create your own networking opportunities by inviting people for coffee or drinks, suggests GSB’s West.

Treat job-hunting like a job.

If you are unemployed, finding a job is your job, Gumtree’s Nagel says.

This means spending time researching the vacancies you would like to apply for and keeping all of the contact information in a single spreadsheet or file.

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