Nothing prepares you for that heavy feeling that comes with not being able to find work as a graduate. We think that getting our tertiary qualification automatically makes it easy for us to get jobs later on, but unfortunately, it isn’t an all-access pass into the world of work. Don’t be discouraged though, there are ways to deal with the temporary phase of unemployment after graduating — here are 5.

You’re not alone

The unemployment rate for young graduates in South Africa is about 33%. This means that there are lots of other people who’ve completed tertiary qualifications, just like you, but are also struggling to find employment. While this is definitely a big problem, it indicates that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you! So, even on your worst days, try not to put yourself down — rather confide in a friend or family member about your worries. Find ways to stay motivated, like reading inspirational books and articles and listening to music and podcasts. It’s also a good idea to build a network of contacts on platforms like LinkedIn, so you can check in with peers and other people in your field about available opportunities.

Have a plan of action

The worst thing you can do as an unemployed graduate, is nothing at all. So have a plan of action. List a few things you’re going to do on a daily basis to cope with the situation and find a solution. For example, you could set up a routine that involves exercise, reading and applying for a set number of jobs everyday. Reaching your daily targets will also make you feel like you’ve achieved something and keep you from being discouraged.

Get involved in some volunteer work

Volunteering your time at an organisation means that you’re gaining valued work experience, meeting new people and building your confidence. This increases your chances of finding a job if you don’t have any previous work experience, since as many as 95% of employers say that they consider volunteer work to be quite valuable. Volunteering tells your prospective employer that you’re willing to go the extra mile, you’ve developed some people skills and you’ve got interesting insights to share. It’s not such a bad idea, then, to look into a few organisations that could use a helping hand.

Find out about Graduate Recruitment Programmes

Most universities have a department dedicated to helping graduates get their careers off the ground. Find the Graduate Recruitment Programme office on your campus, get your name on the database and see what options are available to you. You might also want to consider joining various alumni groups to see if they’ve got any viable opportunities as well. You’re going to need all the help you can get!

Look for part-time work opportunities

There are a number of agencies who place young people within organisations that are looking to hire temporary staff. The internet is your friend here, so be on the look out and get in touch with some of them. You could find yourself doing some admin work somewhere twice a week and then becoming a permanent employee of that company later on — like we said, optimism. Understand that building a career is a process and everyone’s got to start somewhere.

Being unemployed as a graduate can be very stressful and disheartening, but don’t despair — you will get out of this situation as long as you have a plan and the willingness to get out of your comfort zone. Good luck!

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