We regret to inform you that you have not obtained this job.”
We will keep your résumé on file should a similar position open up.
Thank you for taking the time to apply, but we will not be moving forward with you for the recruitment of this job.

If you have received any of the emails above, you surely understand the hurly-burly of job-hunting in South Africa. What’s even worse is that some companies never get back to candidates when they have not obtained a job for which they have applied, with their radio silence meant to be indicative of the sad and disappointing news.

Job hunting is a challenging journey, both mentally and emotionally, especially for younger South Africans, who either have little experience or will be tasked with undertaking roles for which they receive no pay.

In addition to the rigmarole of having to tailor-make one’s curriculum vitae and cover letters to individual job requirements and specifications, applicants are often tasked with creating profiles on various platforms, manually inserting their employment and educational history data while answering a multitude of questions about why they applied for the job being advertised.

There are countless mundane interviews and assessments, which either require one to muster the courage to present oneself neatly and obtain the travelling fair to attend an in-person meeting or have enough data and a decent phone or laptop to have a discussion via a video conferencing platform. Job-hunting is a minefield filled with emotional, financial, and psychological implications for applicants.

According to Stats SA, South Africa has an overall unemployment rate of over 41%, with the youth unemployment rate at more than 44%. Sadly, even holding multiple academic qualifications does not exempt one from the struggles of hunting for sustainable employment.

Despite being a three-time graduate and a master’s degree holder, I, too, have struggled with bouts of unemployment. I would often ask myself why I was not good enough for certain roles when I have a kind and responsible attitude, have many years’ worth of journalistic experience, and hold the academic qualifications to fill any role in media and communication.

However, despite my woe, I refuse to quit. No matter the challenges, rejection emails, radio silences, or exploitative pay offers, I refuse to give up on my dreams, and neither should you.

The human resources manager weighs in.

I spoke to Tumi Makam, a Principal Human Resources Business Partner for Bushveld Minerals with over 24 years’ worth of experience within the field. Tumi shared a few tips for potential jobseekers:

Never give up
Job-hunting can be challenging, but always be hopeful that you can find work that gives you fulfilment.
Stay updated
It is important to keep yourself abreast of the latest developments in your area of interest.
Upskill yourself
Take free courses to update yourself. Many institutions offer free courses. These programmes will enable you to network and can open new opportunities.

Young people weigh in.

I also chatted with three young people, two entrepreneurs, and one jobseeker who has been struggling to find sustainable work.

Rabelani Ratshili, a young woman who owns a construction company, dropped out of school in Grade 11 but still managed to make a success out of her life:
“I prefer to work for myself. I have been self-employed since I was a student. I used to sell chips at a spaza shop to have funds to travel to school.”

Nhladiseng Pricilla Lempe is a hard-working mother who is a professional fitter and turner. She notes that it is tough for women to obtain long-term work in a male-dominated field. Nhladiseng went for more than 10 job interviews in 2023:
“At the moment, I am in the Northern Cape on a project that will take about six months [to complete]. I haven’t got any permanent employment. What motivates me to never quit is the fact that I have responsibilities, and I’m the one who needs to provide for my family.”

Vinolia Malema started a nail salon to sustain herself and to improve the lives of her family members:
“I decided to start a business because of my home situation and because of unemployment. I like working at my own pace and being a boss lady of my small business. I finally got funding and decided to sell atchar, too.”

Life is filled with ups and downs, but the key is to continue striving for success. Apply for jobs, upskill yourself, and continue working towards a better tomorrow.

Have you ever struggled to find work? What motivated you to keep going during that time?