Graduates, shine in a Competitive Market


2011/2012 Graduates

For the class of 2011 graduates or those graduating this year, you are on the verge of a new, sometime confusing, journey to the workplace.

While the recession may officially be over, it does not mean that graduates should expect abundant job opportunities. From 2009 – 2011, many organisations restructured jobs and retrenched staff, including managers. They also reviewed the fit between their business and workforce. Even though the economy is slowly turning for the better, organisations are tightly managing jobs, head count and employment costs. However, few organisations, whether they are a blue chip corporate, parastatal, operate without graduates in their workforce. Some SME’s also tap into the graduates pool each year, preferring to train and develop an individual; that may eventually join them as a shareholder.

The ongoing war for talent means that organisations will need to attract bright, committed graduates to their business. The skills shortage is alive and kicking in several industries – from accounting, engineering and healthcare, management and ICT.  Employers are recruiting selectively, seeking graduates that can create value in their business.

In a competitive market,  graduates should their pencil in 3 areas:

1.   Expand your job search

These days, graduates have dozens of channels to identify and apply for positions. Your job search should include the university employment board, online job sites, recruitment agency sites, careers section of a company site, graduate publications,national and local newspapers. You should also participate in student clubs that are relevant to your field of study. Through out your job search, keep an eye on employers that use Facebook, Mxit Linkedin and Twitter for vacancies. Finally, don’t underestimate word of mouth referrals, from lecturers, friends and professionals in your network.

2.   Graduates & Recruitment Programmes   

Many companies fill their annual intake through graduate recruitment programmes, usually in the second and third quarters of the year.  To stack the odds in your favour, soak up information about the company, their business and opportunities in advance of them coming to campus. Grab every opportunity to visiting their recruitment stands and engage their team. Don’t fall into the trap of only attending presentations by the well known corporates. You may find excellent job opportunities in a smaller, unfamiliar organisations as well.

3.  Accumulate Experience on the Job                                     

If you have accumulated working experience in your first/second year, build on it in the months ahead. If you don’t have any working experience, get started today. When graduates wait until graduation day to seek experience, they are on the back foot, having lost time during their studies to do so.  Join brand ambassador programmes, where you can develop your leadership and communication skills. Explore casual and temping jobs in schools, fast food outlets and SME’s. Graduates can also volunteer your services to non government organisations over the weekends and during holiday periods. Remember that low or non existent pay, is a short term trade off for the valuable experience on the job.

Graduates Bonus: Join the Working Edge Club

In 2009, we launched the Working Edge Club, a first in the country project to assist students & graduates build their career, for free. We support graduates , by providing mindsets, tools and actions to explore and go after what you want.  Graduates get access to career content, job hunting events and entrepreneurship opportunities, join here.

In conclusion, while 2011/2012 promises to be a challenging year for graduates, by expanding your job search to dozens of channels,. preparing for GRP and accumulating experience, you can shine in a competitive market.

I wish you the very best in your career and job hunt this year.

(UJ Graduate Recruitment Guide, 2010)

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