Empowering the future: Taking the lead in shaping your career path
In the face of South Africa’s unemployment crisis, graduates seeking employment may encounter challenges with finding a suitable job. However, taking charge or having a proactive approach to shaping your career early, as a young professional is crucial. Understanding what works in today’s job market, especially in the Tech industry, is key to building the career that you dream of.
Despite the difficulties that young professionals may experience, it is also important to note that there are clear trends and insights crucial for building a successful career.
EQ is as crucial as a qualification in today's competitive landscape
While a person’s technical qualifications are important, what is becoming equally important, is their ability to demonstrate people skills and ability to communicate. This is especially crucial since you will in all probability be dealing with colleagues and clients on a daily basis going forward.
Aspects such as confidence and presentation skills can significantly impact the impression that is made. Building your own personal brand and EQ is as important as building your expertise.
Preparing and researching prospective employers
As much as recruiters are interviewing the graduates to assess their qualifications, experience and suitability, so too should the graduate. This involves thorough research of the company, making sure that their values align with yours and asking pertinent questions about the suitability for you and your career goals.
This is especially relevant with Gen Z graduates who often prioritise a company’s values and policies when assessing whether they want to work there. Moreover, this generation is keen on achieving a more acceptable work-life balance, especially given the amount of time spent working and the stressful and deadline-driven nature of modern-day workplaces.
Gen-Z also views diversity, equity and inclusion, including a company’s culture and integration, as more than mere corporate buzzwords, but as non-negotiables when looking for a suitable fit.
What puts graduates at a disadvantage
When applying for a graduate programme, nothing says unemployability more than a graduate who neglected research and shows no interest in the company or position. The same applies to video interviews or submissions which are often requested within the initial recruitment process. Candidates who fail to prepare or showcase their understanding of the role being offered or the business as a whole, are automatically at a disadvantage, as are those who miss deadlines. These types of traits can speak volumes about your work ethic going forward.
Beware of the flight risk
Graduates' job-hopping from one graduate programme to another many times within the same sector can be seen as a risk factor in employability. Such movements suggest not only potential failure to be resilient and demonstrate value to previous companies but also that you might be a flight risk. Graduate programmes are designed to invest in future talent and meet performance targets, so candidates who show tenacity early in their careers will outshine those who don’t.
Research shows that it takes at least six months to settle and really get to know a new company. In the early years of a career, one to two years at one company may be adequate. As you progress in your career, three to five years of experience in one place becomes a more positive reflection of your ability to learn and grow with a company.
Recruitment as a strategic partnership
Recruiters have evolved from being transactional service providers to becoming strategic partners for businesses. Recognising the importance of keeping up to date with trends, graduates are expected to continually upskill themselves. The recruitment processes are also adapting by embracing new platforms such as TikTok, which has proven to be hugely valuable, as a powerful tool in attracting new candidates.
Demonstrating your own personal brand, showing initiative and taking the lead will help you navigate the complexities of the job market and progress towards building a fulfilling career. Ultimately, your career and achieving your long-term goals, is in your hands.