Personally Speaking...

Trying on unemployment for size

The first thing you’ll learn about me is that I just graduated from university which means I can no longer use my former student status as a shield from true unemployment. Not that I’m bothered, I am ready for the workplace. Well first I have to endure the obligatory family vacation, then I’ll be ready.

I’ve been on this steez for almost 2 months with no luck, hoping to score something and excuse myself from this vacation (you must be looking at your screen perplexed as to why someone would even be trying to avoid a vacation; I’ll elaborate on this towards the end). Nope. I’ve lost count of how many job ads I’ve just looked at before clicking the Back button on my browser, dejected as hell because I did not meet their requirements. It makes me wonder, am I even employable?

The answer is ‘kinda, but right now I’m really regretting dropping that major’. Even though I’d have continued failing if I didn’t drop it…

I have skills which somebody would be willing to pay for, and at the same time I want to expand my set of skills, so I don’t believe I would totally bomb at a job. So what’s with the difficulty? These companies are looking for people with a minimum 2 years’ experience, even in graduate programs. I thought the point of graduate programs was to gain experience. One company were even asking for graduates who’ve achieved an average of 70% throughout their studies and were part of some debating society. Clearly they want someone who has been bred to just be perfect from the day they were born.

I sense a gap between what employers expect of their employees and what universities teach students. I’ve sat in class many times and thought “this theoretical stuff is really interesting, but I’d like to be taught exactly how to work and what being an assistant manager or trainee manager entails”. I guess the only way to know what work is like is to find a job.

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Another reason for why the job market is so treacherous is the South African economy (which is in the toilet right now). Unemployment is a serious problem and the existence of countless shady establishments with the purpose of exploiting desperate job-seekers is an even bigger problem. Our unemployment rate increased to 26.7% since the beginning of this year and I saw proof when I was asked by a company to return for a follow-up interview. I was out in the reception greeting folks and giving them forms to fill out, endlessly. More applicants just kept coming; it took the recruiters six hours to get through everyone. I looked at all of them, with hopes and aspirations clearly painted on their faces, clutching their CVs nervously and I thought ‘yikes, I don’t think I stand a chance either.’

As I’ve been applying online through job portals (because I’m not into doing things analogue anymore), I picked up on a lot of ads calling for people with no experience to earn some through sales management training. Let me just say that any badly written ad that promises free training with the opportunity to be promoted within months or whatever as long as you fax your CV and ID copy to some number (yes, fax…) MAY be selling dreams.

Yesterday, I thought I was making progress with applications until this morning, when I received a couple of responses from the agencies I sought out. Every single one asked me to fax my CV, my ID, a photo of myself to a given number. South Africa may not be as technologically advanced all across the board like Western countries but seriously…not everyone has a fax machine. In fact, most South African households either skipped or didn’t spend a long time using analogue tech (house phones, fax machines, etc.) before cell phones were widely available. More South Africans now have access to the Internet; most of us connected by our smart phones! So if as a recruiter, you’re looking for a ‘young, vibrant’ person to place in a job, do not make fax your only means of contact.

What’s funny is that all these agencies sent me an email from a no-reply address, telling me that I had to fax my relevant things to them. So somebody or several people at these agencies had enough time to create a no-reply email address, but not one to receive applications? Clearly, logic escapes some individuals, even entire entities.

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I hate fax because it’s cumbersome and because since the 1990s, better technology has been developed to make communicating more streamlined. I understand leaving it as an option so those who do not have access to the Internet (because there are still many who don’t) can still apply for these jobs. But making faxing the only way to reach you is just brainless. Worse than faxing is physically mailing my application to agencies. The National Post Office shady as hell, so I will not be mailing any letters any time soon.

 

The rest of my family live in Europe, have been for the past 3 years. This may be their last time living abroad and so my mother insisted that I come out and join them for “our last European summer”. Which is out of character for her, since she had always stressed the importance of NOT FAILING so I could finish my studies and start working. That was supposed to be the plan. Now the fact that it will be August (my least favourite part of the year except one day which is my boyfriend’s birthday) and I’ll still be without a job pisses me off, because this vacation is really not necessary. Despite making my feelings clear about it, it’s still happening.

When I’m able to resume my job hunt after the long holiday I’m heading into, I can only hope I’ll still feel determined to keep going. In the meantime, I guess I’ll be just checking for any (reputable) online typist gigs. Am I stressing? No, I’m going to stay positive, no matter how hard it gets (lmao easier said than done, I know). Oh life, please show me I’m not entirely useless. Tell me I didn’t whittle away four years of my life.

And I haven’t even attended my graduation ceremony YET. I just wanna make it there.

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