Every year, Uganda’s higher education institutions release hundreds of graduates into the job market. These prospective career individuals join the millions of educated and uneducated youths that are unemployed. Different studies estimate unemployment rate among Uganda’s youth in excesses of 60%. We have a shrinking labor market, where we are seeing more job closures and fewer job openings. These dynamics are not peculiar to Uganda but a global trend, with approximately over 70 million unemployed youths worldwide.
This implies that young people are graduating but taking long in the job search process. Others get jobs and lose them quickly, yet the openings for re-employment are totally limited. Nonetheless, we still see a few young people scoping jobs very fast, and growing their careers very fast. This implies that actual and perceived employability play a big role in determining how long an individual will stay in the job searching process. Here are a few tips for young individuals who have never been able to get jobs for long, to help them enhance their chances in the labor market.
The first question is who do you know (networks) and what do you use your social media for?
Young people spend most of their time on social media but the contribution of what they do on these forums in the direction of their life goals is questionable. Two things here. Who in your networks can link you to job opportunities? And have you tried to inform them? Well, there are also distant friends on social media who can help your job search. It is common these days that some companies and individuals will post job openings on Facebook or inform their WhatsApp friends. In other words, let people know that you are looking for employment. Also think about contacting your former employer not only for recommendations but also for helpful contacts. You could also think of friends who can be mentors in the job search process. They can vet your CVs, your application letters and coach you on how to deal with interview situations.
Volunteering and freelancing; what experience do you have?
Human capital is still a big thing that employers long for. How much of it have you accumulated through your experience? All employers want experienced people. But let’s be real, there is no school that offers experience training. One of the few opportunities you have to enhance this kind of employable capital is trying out volunteering. Volunteering is not for the desperate or those who can’t get jobs. In fact, clever young people begin with either a volunteer job or participation in graduate training programs. Freelancing is also an alternative that will not only earn you some little income but improve your skills and networks. There is an increase in the number of specialist agencies offering such opportunities. There are also increased opportunities in graduate training programs and credible organizations are increasingly recruiting real talent through this procedure.
Have you signed up with a recruitment agency or online recruitment platform?
Well, all you need is your CV and scanning your academic documents. Signing with recruitment agencies or recruitment platforms such as www.brightermonday.co.ug improves your chances of learning about opportunities in your profession. You also stand better chances when such agencies are hired to headhunt.
How resilient and persistent are you in the job search? How much time do you spend on your job search daily?
It is not uncommon that people will give up job search efforts after a year of offering one’s self on the labor market. With increasingly fewer opportunities, you are required to fasten your shoe lances so that you can run longer. It is possible that you give up the run when the marathon is a kilometer to the end. It is probable that job search is the biggest job you have at present. So, how committed are you to this search? If employed people work 8 hours a day, then how much time are you committing to your search? It is often that we complain after one trial. This won’t help you.
Are you also staying current with information and trends?
There are often free workshops, conferences, seminars and public dialogues in our areas of specialization. How often do you attend these? When you watch news or read newspapers, what do you get out of it? How many radio/ TV stations do you know that make job announcements and when these are made? And are you tuned in at that right time when offers are being announced?
Retraining is also another option.
The question is how big and full is your skill set. If put in some kind of a container, would it be half full or half empty? How heavy your skill set weighs determines the number of options, and how likely an employer will be impressed by your abilities. Consider both hard and soft skills. Important are behavioral skills that seem irrelevant in performing tasks, yet they are important for behavior on the job. Recruiters are able to observe these through the series of assessments they use. But also going back to school or attending accredited/chartered short courses is a better use of time than just waiting for a job.
What is the scope of your job search? Are you confining your niche or are you open minded in your search?
One big mistake is to think that you have to get engineering jobs if you are trained as an engineer. The dynamics have changed, therefore people searching for jobs have to be dynamic too. Every opportunity that fits within your skill set is a possible gold mine. But again you don’t need to be desperate to try even the irrelevant ones. Be aware of the effects underemployment can have on you in the long run.
What is your CV like, how do you write your application/ motivation letters?
Its length may not be the matter. But how rich is it? Try to keep it positive, don’t over disclose yourself at this level, yet providing all the relevant information will attract the attention of the recruiter, as well as remaining honest. Avoid having a generic cv or application letter template. Keep adjusting them to each opportunity’s requirements. Keep note of the Skills Knowledge and Abilities (SKAs) required for each job and tailor your documents to these. Endeavor to emphasize your strengths moreover without overhyping.
What have you learned from the few job interviews you have been called up to?
How are you using those lesions to better your chances in the next trial? Are there behavioral issues that draw the attention of the interviewers away from you? For example, do you tend to be cynical, complaining, pessimistic or you don’t convince the panel about your abilities and work ethic?
In your job search and when given opportunity, try to be as positive as possible.
Particularly, remain optimistic. Are you the kind that holds the belief that it is who you know rather than what you are able to do when it is time for applying or doing interviews? Perhaps you are quite wrong. One of the causes of failure is negative thought. This limits our ability to act positively even in situations where you have real chance of succeeding.
Show the recruiters that you will be more of an asset than a cost to the organization.
How much private time do you need off work? How healthy are you? How much supervision do you need? Are you flexible enough (it is versatility as is used in sporting world). Being versatile means you can play in many roles within the organization, and thus one of the stuffs that impress employers.
Prove to the employer that you are an expert and not an amateur. How good are you for the job that you are applying for? Are you one that the recruiters see as requiring retraining to be able to do the job. Most organizations want people who will hit the road as soon as they arrive on the job.
With all this at the back of your mind, there is no doubt no matter how long it could take that eventually your persistent job hunt process will pay off with positive results.