How you can help your matriculant find a job

The country’s unemployment stats might scare both you and your teen, but there are steps you can take to ensure that he has a productive year
The country’s unemployment stats might scare both you and your teen, but there are steps you can take to ensure that he has a productive year

Remember being 18? You either fell into university or other studies, or drifted into a job because your mom’s workplace needed a packer. But life isn’t as easy now as it was in the Stone Age when we were growing up. The job market is full of matriculants searching for opportunities.

South Africa’s unemployment rate is at almost 30% and our youth bear the brunt of it. The NGO Equal Education wrote in a media statement at the beginning of this year that, “The unemployment rate for youths (aged 15 to 34) was 38,6% according to the Statistics South Africa Quarterly Labour Force Survey for the third quarter of 2017”.

The country’s unemployment stats might scare both you and your teen, but there are steps you can take to ensure that he has a productive year. All your years of working experience have given you a wealth of knowledge that you can use to help him get a foot in the job market door.

Send out an APB

Do you know anyone who owns a business and might be willing to put your teen to work this year? Perhaps they need a packer, someone to lift and shift things, someone to man the phones. Send out an APB* through your social media networks. Speak to friends and colleagues. You never know who might need to employ someone on a temporary or permanent basis.

* "all-points bulletin" like the cops would in Hollywood movies...


If that’s not an option and your teen is going to start the job-seeking process, ensure that all his documents are ready to go. Get him to make a few copies of his Matric certificate and certify them at the police station where you can generally certify up to five documents at a time.

He’ll need a CV. The CAPS curriculum requires learners to compile one around Grade 11, but if he doesn’t have one, help him create it. Base it on yours, or make use of templates like this one. He might have no working experience yet but remember that extra-curricular school activities can be used to emphasise any number of competencies, like teamwork, punctuality, or leadership.

A good cover letter is what will grab an employer’s attention. Work with him to create the first few. Encourage him to thoroughly read through each job advertisement and highlight some of the skills it requires to ensure that his application stands out.  

There is a plethora of websites for job-seekers. Search with him to select the best ones to register on. Discuss with him what kind of job he wants: part-time or full time? Something in retail, or administration? Spending some time thinking about this and then applying the appropriate keywords and filters will save time and effort when searching. 

Encourage him to work fast and consistently. EE says that “remaining unemployed for extended periods of time signals low potential productivity to employers, further reducing the likelihood of finding employment.” The job market is competitive and it moves fast. An advertisement that is published today might not be there tomorrow. 

Coach him through the interview process. Search for interview tips and standard questions he should anticipate and for which he can prepare responses. Remind him to always dress appropriately for interviews. If necessary, go out and buy him an outfit to replace his much-loved ripped jeans and holey t-shirt.

There are alternative options to paid employment. He might not like the sound of it, because he won’t be earning a salary, but internships like those being offered here and here, or volunteering at an NGO will ensure he gains some much-needed experience. This will expand his CV and make him more employable in the future.

Don’t lose heart

He might be reluctant to apply for some positions, because he doesn’t think he can do it, or he’s never done it before. Remind him that these are entry-level positions. He’ll get on the job training and he’ll acquire the skills needed in no time at all. Or he might meet all the job requirements for a particular position, but hear nothing after applying. It might take a while to land that job. Persistence and patience will be needed from both of you.

What is your ex-matriculant doing this year? Tell us by commenting below or emailing to and we may publish your comments. 

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