Statistics show that our South African economy continues to face the growing hustle of unemployment which appears to be most prevalent among its youth. Recent stats show that as at Q1 of 2019, the South African youth account for 63.4% of the total unemployed persons, (youth classified as ages 15 – 34) and a staggering 31.0% are qualified graduates. Yes, unemployed graduates!
(Source: http://www.statssa.gov.za/?p=12121 )
Growing up, I was generally a child who knew deep inside that I had it in me to do whatever I set my mind to, but for some reason, my shyness and lack of confidence always overshadowed my inner beast – CONFIDENCE! I had to walk a journey to uncover my confidence and sadly it only began to shine through in my adult years. I feel that had I been more confident earlier on, I may have achieved more, much quicker, and by achieving more I don’t just mean material things, but I would’ve had better emotional control and self-worth.
Looking at the above statistics, I can’t help but ask myself, why are graduates unemployed? Why can’t people who have worked hard to get a tertiary education, i.e. either a diploma or a degree secure employment”? What factors and nuances influenced and continue to influence their journeys? Could it be the gruesome residue of South Africa’s divided past, could it be the lack of exposure among the previously disadvantaged groups of people or anyone for that matter? Could it be language barriers, could it be a pure lack of opportunities, could it be that universities and colleges do not sufficiently prepare students for the “real world”, or could it perhaps be a lack of the will and determination to find a way to win?
I happen to think while all the above and more may contribute, there certainly is ALWAYS a way to win, given the opportunity. Having the boldness to say, I got this and I’m having a go, regardless of the outcome I will keep trying until I succeed …that my friends is unfortunately not something that can be taught. It’s an inner conviction, a drive, and it’s one that CAN be cultivated and developed, it’s called CONFIDENCE!!!
I wanted to share my view on how to practically set the stage to allow your knowledge/education to shine through when searching for work after graduating. Knowledge and getting a tertiary education are simply not enough. It must be coupled with being well presented, exuding confidence and self-worth and communicating well. This is half the battle won. Obviously, the other half is knowing your shhh, stuff😊
In my experience, here’s what I think building confidence involves, which will help set you up for success!
Believe in yourself
All too often we do things without realising what we are doing or why we are doing it. Think about these questions.. what do I want to do, why do I want to do it, can I do that, how am I going to do that? Now when we begin to ask ourselves these questions and proceed to answer these questions, our purpose becomes a lot clearer. Having a sense of purpose drives us towards success, creates intrinsic motivation and gives us a sense of meaning to life. Always believe in yourself, your purpose and your abilities.
While you have a sense of purpose make sure that you resource yourself to live out your purpose. Obtaining a diploma or degree does not mean that the work is done. Continue to build your knowledge reserve.
Read Read Read – Read anything. Books, the local newspaper…. whatever is accessible.
Use the internet to research the companies and roles you are applying for to ensure you are sufficiently equipped to show that you have a basic understanding of the role and business you’re applying for and to. Information is freely available if you are hungry for it. You can easily Google company structures/team, recent articles on the company, search their website to find out their culture and values, and core business information. Be specific and intentional about what you are resourcing yourself with. Whether you are taking a short course or listening to advice, always make sure your source is reliable, e.g. its no-good taking advice from someone that’s never landed a job! Always remain teachable and be willing to learn something new – it will keep you relevant.
Now that you know where you are going (purpose) and you’ve resourced yourself, it’s time to practically prepare yourself.
If you are meeting with a company or going for an interview don’t let anyone fool you into saying” they must accept you as you are”. First impressions are lasting impressions so be sure you make full use of that. Be physically well presented. You don’t have to wear the latest fashion trends but ensure that you look professional, clean and you smell good!
Next up, sharpen your communication skills – What I’m about to suggest may sound super weird but I’ll say it anyway. Take a moment to practice in front of the mirror, say hello, introduce yourself, answer a question or two, take note of your body language. I promise it makes a difference.
Go over potential questions you think you may be asked and have your answers ready. Going through this in advance will help you to be sure of your answers.
There are also a few small things you should never take for granted when preparing yourself like arranging transport to get to your interview, being on time, AND if you are running late be sure to notify your appointment contact.
Be ready to NOT be afraid…. After all your preparation, be ready to put yourself out there and give it your all.
Learn from your mistakes
If your engagement didn’t land you the job, that’s ok. Take stock of where you perhaps went wrong and work on doing it better next time. Reflect and assess the process honestly, like were you a good fit for the job being applied for and decide on what your next steps will be. The faster you learn from your mistakes, the faster you will move forward! #failfastfailforward
Now, while confidence is a wonderful quality to have, there is certainly a fine line between confidence, arrogance, and entitlement. Never mistake one for the other. Everyone’s seat at the table is earned. As you set out on your venture to seek work may you be fuelled by this little piece of practical advice and remember,
“It is our choices that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J. K Rowling
www.perfectnotperfect.com – for The Experience Factory