What do I do if I can’t find a job?
Unfortunately, finding a job isn’t easy. In 2016, the unemployment rate in South Africa was 26.6%. Many people spend long periods of time unemployed, especially if they have no work experience. And it can be difficult to stay positive when you’re applying for jobs regularly but aren’t hearing anything back. However, you can’t give up and there are ways you can improve your chances of finding stable employment.
So, if you’re struggling to find work and are wondering how to get job security, then here are four things you should definitely do.
Double check your CV and cover letter
If you find that you’re applying for multiple jobs every day but aren’t receiving any responses, then your application may be the problem. Start by looking at your CV and making sure that it has all the necessary information a potential employer might need to know about you.
If you have work experience, is all of it listed in chronological order with the right dates? Is it clear where you’ve worked and what role you played while working there? Sometimes job titles can be confusing, so you can add a sentence or two about what the work you did and the responsibilities you had. But make sure to keep it short and to the point. Hiring managers don’t want to have to spend ages trying to find the information they need.
You should also have a look at the appearance of your CV. Are you using a font that is neat and easy to read? Avoid trying to make your CV stand out by using bright colours, big font sizes or pictures. Hiring managers want to know why you are the best candidate for the job and your CV is the first place they look, so make sure it’s tidy, not over two pages and tells them what they need to know.
While your CV is important, your cover letter can be just as important. Sometimes, your cover letter can be the most important part of your application, especially if you have no work experience. Your cover letter can either be in the body of the email you attach your CV to or can be attached as an additional document. It all depends on how much you have to write. If you can convince them of why they should hire you in a short paragraph or two, then in the email is a good idea as it will make sure they read it. But if you feel like you need more space, attach your cover letter as a separate document. Make sure the title of the document tells them what it is and includes your name. And, finally, always keep it less than a page long.
Find good references
If you’ve worked before, ask your previous manager if they would mind writing a reference letter or being contacted by potential employers. If you’ve just finished school or tertiary education, ask two or three of your educators whether they would write a reference or be willing to be contacted by any potential employers.
It’s important that you first ask before listing someone as a reference as they might not want to help you find a new job. While they can’t legally give you a bad reference, what they choose not to say could have just as much of an effect as what they do say.
Broaden your search
If you can’t find a job and you need a stable income, now is not the time to be picky. Yes, you may have a definite career path in mind or expect a certain salary, but if you’re not finding a job while searching for exactly that, why not look at a wider range of opportunities?
If you want to work in a specific industry, that doesn’t mean that your first job has to be in that industry, there are other ways to end up there. You can apply for jobs in other industries which offer you valuable skills that you can later use. For example, if you want to work for a marketing agency, why don’t you start by applying for jobs in the marketing departments of any businesses with vacancies? If you want to gain as many skills and as much experience as you can in a short period of time, try applying at smaller companies as they’re likely to expect you to get involved in a little bit of everything.
Lastly, use this time while you’re unemployed to upskill yourself and make yourself more attractive to potential employers. When you’re not applying for jobs, make sure you’re busy doing something that will better your chances of finding a job. There are many free online courses you can take on pretty much any subject you’re interested in. Some of them require payment for the certificate, but you can still list that you’ve completed the course on your CV. Another thing you can do is volunteer. You have free time, so why not use it to help your community, as well as gain skills and experience at the same time?
It’s difficult to find a job these days. But if you follow the above advice, it will make job hunting a lot easier. And, whatever you do, be positive and don’t give up! The right job for you is out there.