Young South Africans can spend around R1400 a month looking for a job

Not only is jobhunting stressful it can be an expensive exercise few can afford
Not only is jobhunting stressful it can be an expensive exercise few can afford

The irony of having monthly expenses when you're not even earning a salary is quite a harsh one. 

A few individuals who are already employed, but are searching for jobs elsewhere may have the privilege of making use of the office WiFi to apply for jobs online.

This makes the process of finding a new job almost seamless - incognito window/tab to submit applications while you work, you're probably dressed smart for work anyway so your interview look is inconspicuous and making it to your interview simply requires you to negotiate for it to be during your lunch hour and you're good to go.

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However, there are thousands more young unemployed hopefuls whose budgets are allocated almost solely to finding a job every day and the hurdles they have to jump through are different to those navigated by employed job seekers.

And this inadvertently becomes the reason why many young South Africans remain unemployed for longer.

For example, it was just last week when a recruiter took to social media to expose a graduate who forfeited their interview because they could not make it to the interview on the proposed day. For all we know, the young man in question did not have transport means to make it to the interview.

READ MORE: A graduate politely requesting to reschedule a job interview need not necessarily be written off as "entitled" 

A case study recently published on The Conversation titled 'A South African case study: how to support young job hunters', revealed that job hunters spend an average of R938 a month searching for employment. An additional R380 is spent on "internet access, printing, application fees, agent’s fees and even money for bribes." 

This study conducted on 1 986 people, further cited another concerning stat - 50% of people between the ages of 15 and 24 are unemployed. "The study participants were predominantly African, women and from poor backgrounds. This demographic is the most affected by unemployment," the report adds. 

The case study also draws our attention to the fact that "a key reason that [recent graduates] have for not looking for work is the cost of doing so."

When someone is unemployed they do not have disposal funds readily available on any given day and this usually means they have to borrow from family or close friends, making one feel like a burden. 

READ MORE: These are the 5 mistakes HR will immediately overlook your job application for

In other cases, applicants use their stipends from internships or graduate programmes to find permanent employment, but according to The Conversation, this is a small number (6.2%).

In other instances, companies expect candidates to fund travel expenses outside of where they are based, potentially tripling the expenses you're incurring locally anyway.

*Phumla, a young media professional, shared with us how someone in her family who recently completed university got an interview at a company in Cape Town;

They were invited for two interviews by the same company about two weeks apart and had to incur the costs of travel to and from the Eastern Cape. Luckily, we had family in Cape Town but if we hadn’t they would need to secure their own accommodation, as the company did not contribute to any expenses.

Job hunters who live in township areas have the goalposts shifted even further for them, as gaining access to the job market is even more cumbersome.

*Lufuno, a 24-year-old Honours graduate (with distinction), who recently completed a 12-month internship at a global media company has, as of the beginning of December, spent approximately R1 100 on job searching. 

This includes airtime, transport and printing. 

"Bear in mind that these things are so expensive in the township because we don't have excessive internet access," Lufuno explains. 

She mainly uses taxis to get around, but "sometimes walks long distances because [she] can't afford an Uber." 

Lufuno's case is an example of how certain circumstances such as one's background remain barriers to entry let alone success despite your excellence. 

So career experts may churn out all the well-meaning advice and tips on how to land that job after graduation, but for as long as a young black woman in Thembisa, KwaMashu or eNgcobo doesn't have data nor the means to get to corporate hubs in the city, that information remains unknown to her, putting her at a disadvantage to her peers.

Hmmm, now if only we had a government or something...

*Names have been changed.

Are you in a similar situation? How much have you already spent looking for a job? Tell us here.

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