At the time of writing this article, more than a quarter of South Africans are unemployed. With the current state of the economy and job cuts looming in the private sector, more people are likely to join those without work.
Unemployment is like a boat filled with holes. No matter how hard you try, it seems impossible to keep the boat afloat. People who stay in the unemployment boat for too long often find themselves drowning in a sea of hunger, depression, low self-esteem, hate, suffering and emotional damage.
However, if you find yourself on this boat, don’t despair and don’t give up hope. If you really want to make it to your destination, you have to be willing to take a dive and swim.
Here are 11 things you need to be doing every day if you are looking for work:
1. Put in the hours
In full-time employment you will most likely spend 8 or 9 hours working each day. At this moment you are not on vacation, your job is to find a job. Are you putting in the hours? If you are serious about finding a job, you need to spend at least 4 to 6 hours every day job hunting. If you are not willing to put in the hours now, maybe you are ready for a job.
2. Pay attention to your environment
Make lists of industries you might be interested in. Pay attention to the environment around you. If you pass a business or you spot a branded vehicle, add the company’s name to your list.
Every day go over your list and look for these companies online. See if they have a careers page on their website or try to get contact details to which you can submit your CV.
3. Don’t limit your options
Any job is better than no job. Finding work is especially difficult if you have no or limited experience. What you need is a foot in the door, an opportunity to prove yourself and to gain some experience. If you are desperate, don’t limit yourself to specific industries or job titles.
We all have that one thing we refuse to do.
For me it this was waitering. I’ve spend many years waitering and working in restaurants, so when I found myself unemployed, I told myself that waitering would be my very last resort.
It is fine if you have that one thing that you simply can’t do, but be careful not to be overly picky. Remember, for now you just want to get back into the job market.
4. Fully utilise the internet
Using one, two or three websites to look for work is not good enough. You should be using all of them. The internet is a great source for finding employment, offering many portals for jobseekers – and your CV should be listed on as many websites and portals you can find.
Keep track of all the sites where you upload your CV so that you can visit each these every day and apply for any newly listed vacancies.
5. Don’t forget about print
Many companies, especially small businesses, still use newspapers to advertise vacancies. Try to get your hands on as many newspapers as possible. Instead of spending money on it, ask your neighbours or friends to keep their old papers for you. The news might be a day old but the jobs might still be vacant.
Local newspapers are great because they reach a smaller audience than most websites which means the amount of applicants are likely to be less.
6. Update your LinkedIn profile
Every jobseeker needs to have an updated LinkedIn profile. Make sure your information is up to date, connect with people you know and ask your friends and former co-workers to endorse you on the professional network.
7. Make sure your connections know you are in the market
This might sound obvious, but it is probably one of the most difficult things to do. For some, asking those they know to help them look for work can be embarrassing. Sadly, there is limited space for sensitive egos in the job market.
Make sure your friends and family know that you are serious about finding a job. They can be your extra sets of eyes and ears searching for opportunities.
8. Meet new people
Use any extra time you have to meet as many new people as possible. Call it nepotism or professional expansion, but sometimes it really helps to know people in the right places.
Whether you are out with friends, talking to a cashier in a shop or standing at the bus stop, try to make new friends.
This can be very hard for introverts, but try to focus your conversation around the other person and what they do for a living.
When the timing is right, ask your new acquaintances to inform you if any jobs become available at their place of work.
9. Create your own income
The world, and especially South Africa, is in desperate need of more entrepreneurs. Even if you don’t see yourself as a business owner, it doesn’t mean you can’t generate an income – even if it is small – to help you during your time as unemployed.
Find something you are good at and find a way to make some money from your skills.
Volunteering will not put food on the table, but it can help you to learn some new skills and gain experience. Find a charity near you and ask them if you can help out with fundraising, marketing, filing, answering the phones, taking photos or general administrative work.
All of these will be valuable skills to have in the work place and you are doing good at the same time.
11. Be bold
If you want to get out of this dark hole, you will have to be willing to push your limits – get out of your comfort zone and jump.
Stand on a street corner and hand out your CV, walk from business to business and ask to see the human resource manager, use the yellow pages and call around, place an ad in the newspaper or on a community board.
And above all, do not lose hope.