Five ways to get ahead in the youth job market


Despite all the bad news about the economy and unemployment, there are various ways young South African learners can give themselves a competitive edge when looking for work.

Here are our Top 5.

1.       Build a network

Making connections could arguably be one of the most important things all young job seekers out there should do.

More often than not, the chance to get your foot in the door will come from someone you have already networked with.

Attend industry events, join professional umbrella organisations for your industry and engage with as many people in your field as you can.

This doesn’t have to be all about intimidating meetings.

There are career expo’s, open days, workshops and other informal gatherings that all provide excellent chances to network with people in your area of interest.

Getting face-time with professionals in your field can prove invaluable later on the line.

While many job seekers will skip straight to applying for jobs, taking the time to network could put you ahead of the competition.

2.       Work on your CV

Many job seekers will simply copy and paste their CV and send it to each potential employer in the same form.

One of the most common mistakes is not tailoring their CV to the job they are applying for.

You should be highlighting experience relevant to the position and leaving out experience that is not relevant.

If a company says they are looking for someone who works well under pressure, make sure to highlight that aspect of your previous work in your CV.

Also try to add a ‘hook’ to your CV - something that stands out and shows employers who you are as a person.

Whether you play sports or are part of a local club, letting your personality show a little on your CV could help you secure that interview.

3.       Be digitally diligent

Even though it may seem obvious, your online presence is essential to your chances of landing a job.

If you aren't already part of professional social networking sites like LinkedIn, join now.

Keep your online information updated and stay as active as you can.

This will show diligence and enthusiasm to potential employers.

Also don’t forget to clean up your other personal social media accounts.

If you don’t want your possible future boss to see it, then it shouldn't be online!

4.       Upskill Yourself

Aside from simply highlighting your skills on your CV, obtaining new skills will give you an even more competitive edge.

While funding could be a challenge, one must remember that there are many ways in which you can obtain new skills.

For instance, Relate Bracelets, a 100% not-for-profit social enterprise, has a ‘Youth of Relate’ programme.

This is an example of one of a kind of programme you could possibly look for that can help add substance to your qualifications.

Relate’s programme employs young people unable to access tertiary education.

But the primary aim of the programme is to up-skill these “Youth of Relate,” through external courses or studies towards a career they’re interested in.       

Another example could be through online courses, such as Educate24.

This is an online education platform that offers short courses on everything from social media marketing and conflict resolution to healthcare and personal budgeting.

The courses, which can be done from any device with an internet connection, are an affordable and easy way to add some skills to your CV and grow as a professional.

Resources like Educate24 are also great for the other services they offer, such as their Smart online CV and questionnaire that will give advice on career paths. 

5.       Work part-time

While it can get all-consuming when searching for your perfect job, experience is always an invaluable thing to have.

Working part-time (even during school holidays) is a perfect way to make some money while you search for your ideal career and gain valuable working experience that you can add to your CV.

Additionally, students who work while they study are more likely to be employed after graduation.

Potential employers look for people who have shown that they can and have worked hard.

Even if the job you find isn't in your chosen field, gaining experience is never a waste of time.

What advice have you given your teens about their careers and future development? Email and let us know.

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