Finding a job has become even more difficult as the impact of the global recession begins to reshape the South African job market. With an unemployment rate of over 20%, South Africans have always faced difficult odds in finding suitable employment, especially for those without a tertiary qualification.

Traditional approaches to finding a job is not always effective as more people enter the South African job market. In these tough times, desperate job seekers will undoubtedly fall prey to unscrupulous recruitment agencies, labour brokers and  training scams. Some may even use  their entire pension fund payouts to start up businesses or invest in ‘get-rich-quick’ schemes.

If you have recently lost your job or have been experiencing difficulty in finding suitable employment, here are some tips for riding out the tough times and placing yourself in a better position for employment in the future.

  • Don’t invest in training schemes that are not certified. From a few hundred to thousands of rands, it seems like a small investment to join training programs which are popping up all around South Africa. Before you part with your hard earned money, first find out if the training program that you plan to join up is certified with the necessary associations in South Africa. Secondly, carefully analyse if the training that is on offer is something that you really need for future career prospects.
  • Starting a small business may seem like a great idea, especially if you have a little capital in your hand. But remember that at the time of a recession, business prospects may be limited. You may meet many friends, family members or acquaintances who will be quick to advise you on how your pension fund payout can secure you a better future if you invest in certain business models. Research these business plans carefully and use common sense to decide if it is worth investing in, especially with new and untested business models. A small business may be a good idea for long term financial security but it takes careful research, entrepreneurial qualities and sufficient capital to be viable.
  • Beware of the guaranteed employment opportunities. A growing trend in South Africa is the appearance of ‘labour brokers’ who will guarantee you a job either locally or overseas if you invest a few thousand in what they claim to be administration costs for finding you a job. There are no guarantees in this current economic environment and you may quickly find yourself out of pocket of a few thousand rands if you buy into their claims. The lack of jobs means that employment agencies are also feeling the ‘pinch’ as employers are less likely to use their costly services or there are too few jobs on offer. Some recruitment agencies have now started to charge administration costs or charges for compiling a ‘professional’ CV (curriculum vitae) or portfolio. These services should be free and while a fee of a few hundred rands may be acceptable, exorbitant ‘administrative’ costs are usually a scam.
  • Use your time constructively while you are looking for a job. Volunteer to assist charities and organizations in your area as they are also experiencing great difficulty during these tough financial times. More importantly, they may be able to give you a character reference which could be useful in future job applications. Instead of wasting your day feeling depressed about your financial situation, use your time constructively even if it is not in your field of expertise. Opportunities may arise in the least obvious of places and sometimes, it really is a matter of ‘being at the right place at the right time’.
  • Invest money that you can spare in yourself in legitimate training and education programs. Now may be the time to further your education or complete the degree that you never could earlier in life. If you are going to spend money on education, ensure that it is with a reputable institution. Apart from improving your job prospects, a proper education program will occupy your time and allow you to interact with other students in your field. An education is an investment in yourself and your future, so invest wisely and not frivolously.
  • Don’t stop looking for a job. Whether you are scouring the newspapers or signing up on local job websites, your effort will eventually be rewarded. It may take a few months, or in some unfortunate circumstances, even a few years but never stop trying. You may feel the odds are against you but it is important to remember that you are not alone in these difficult times. Maintain your focus on finding a job and keep persevering.

Tips for the Unemployed in South Africa

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