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According to Statistics SA latest findings, South Africa’s unemployment rose substantially during the fourth quarter of 2020, increasing by 1.7%—resulting in the official unemployment rate rising to a concerning 32.5%. The data collection agency further states, this is the highest figure recorded since it began measuring unemployment trends in 2008 through the Quarterly Labour Force Survey.
In plain English, the number of unemployed people increased by 701 000, with 7.2 million people now sitting without employment. Additionally, the number of discouraged work-seekers increased by 235 000 (8,7%). These are frightening figures. The question now stands, how do you secure a job in these trying times?
The Newcastillian – Online News approached four affluent business leaders across several industries in order to better learn what the challenges are in sourcing the appropriate employee and how job seekers can improve their chances of being hired.
It should be noted, when looking at sourcing the correct employees in Newcastle, there are specific difficulties prospective employers face.
Conrad van Rooyen of RocoMamas attributes this to Newcastle being geographically classed as a rural area with limited industry. “In the more urban cities, there is a much broader scope of industry, utilising a much wider range of skills. As a result of this, it can be difficult to find potential employees with the correct skills for the position an employer needs to fill.”
Through his experience, Junaid Docrat of VW Newcastle points out; he has noted the majority of prospective candidates’ study in major metros and continue living there. Delving further into the matter, he says, “We also face a serious issue with millennials. As we know, they seek instant gratification. Unfortunately, in the business world, one needs to earn such. Businesses can’t pay exorbitant amounts to candidates that have minimal experience and knowledge.”
Executive Head of St Dominics Newcastle, Chad Moses, adds the private school does not necessarily face this issue. “We have been exceptionally fortunate at St Dominics when it comes to our recruitment of top candidates for our vacancies. Because we are a Curro Select school, we are able to leverage Curro’s recruitment strategies in our favour. The history of excellence that St Dominics has become renowned for has further served the school well.”
Discussing the reality of local employment, Tyrone Pullen, from the recruitment agency Workforce Staffing, highlights it is essential to remember that in the past, Newcastle’s economy was influenced by two prominent companies, namely ArcelorMittal and Karbochem. “With the rapid growth of the Asian market, the two companies were badly affected and had to make many retrenchments, which in turn greatly affected the smaller companies reliant on them. Many skilled workers were absorbed by Johannesburg and Mpumalanga, leaving Newcastle with limited resources in terms of skilled personnel.”
Therefore, he elaborates, Newcastle faces numerous challenges, especially being an outlying town with few job opportunities and a steady loss of potential candidates to the higher salaried jobs in Gauteng and Mpumalanga.
Moreover, Pullen maintains the Covid-19 pandemic has had a devastating effect on the economy, with the continued uncertainty about the future resulting in businesses becoming increasingly selective in their employment practices. “This harsh reality has resulted in many businesses, rather employing employees on a fixed-term contract, rather than on a permanent basis. So, should work seekers who would traditionally only be willing to consider permanent positions be wise to consider positions that are advertised as temporary positions? Using temporary positions as a steppingstone into regular employment?”
When it comes to conducting interviews with candidates, business leaders face a different series of obstacles. Looking at the most significant challenges and offering advice to candidates for future interviews, van Rooyen highlights, “When asking potential employees where they see themselves in 5 years, they generally answer that they do not know. Always plan short-term, medium-term and long-term goals. This shows the potential employer that you have ambition and are self-motivated, as well as having a plan for your own future.”
Additionally, Pullen states that job seekers should approach interviews for prospective positions with today’s realities kept firmly in mind. He expounds, “In the current circumstances, there are likely many applicants for the same position, meaning that businesses would only focus on applications that are relevant to the position. Secondly, recruiters will focus on work seekers with reliable, contactable references.”
Delving further into the matter, he adds it has become an accepted standard that 75% of work seekers lie in their CVs and/or in the job interview process. Continuing Pullen says, “Astute interviewers would be able to mark any discrepancies in the work seeker’s interview process. Work seekers are also required to deliver on the expectations that they create during the interview process. Overselling your abilities can therefore result in you losing the acquired job in a very short time if you are not able to deliver on the promises made in an interview process.”
With the pandemic forcing people to now make use of online meeting applications, Moses explains the school has been able to transition to virtual meetings with ease and have been able to interview candidates online successfully. While this is a convenient way to conduct an interview, he does clarify, “This does, however, pose a challenge to some candidates who might struggle with connectivity issues or data – related concerns leading to re-scheduling.”
When doing an online interview, he advises that one should ensure the space you are using is conducive to an interview, and if need be, make use of a background that most online platforms provide.
Furthermore, Docrat highlights that he has found that candidates are entirely unprepared, and he often finds their CV’s contain unnecessary information, which they use to bulk up the document.
Additionally, when it comes to interviews, he advises, “Be on time and not half an hour before, as it shows desperation. Don’t be late because that shows a lack of discipline. Also, look professional.”
Furthermore, he emphasises that it is also essential to be calm and concise in your responses. “Don’t oversell. Be honest and forthcoming when compiling your CV.” He continues by affirming, it is crucial never to badmouth your previous employer. “Loyalty, honesty and integrity are the three basic principles of any human being.”
Promoting economic development, each business leader provides job seekers with tips before applying for a position.
Van Rooyen points out one needs to keep their CV current and up-to-date. “It is frustrating and time consuming for a potential employer to assess an incomplete or outdated CV.”
Moreover, he declares that first impressions count, which is why it is essential to make that first impression positive. One way to make the first impression count, he says, is to dress neatly and be on time for your interview.
Finally, van Rooyen says, “Smile and communicate clearly when asked questions. Smiling is contagious and sets a positive tone for an interview.”
Pullen agrees with van Rooyen regarding one’s CV. “Before applying for any job, I would advise candidates to prepare a comprehensive CV. I have seen a lot of incomplete CVs which do not reveal much about the candidates. Candidates must ensure there are no gaps on their CVs. In the case of gaps, an affidavit might be used to justify them. Work experience must be described in full, including core duties and responsibilities. It is not enough to simply say, “I worked as a Semi-Skilled electrician”; one should comprehensively elaborate.”
Moses advises job seekers to research the company or school that they are applying to. In addition, he states it is essential, between the nerves and questions, to try be yourself. Most importantly, “Ensure that your passion and purpose align with the job you are applying for.”
As a relatively newcomer to Newcastle, Moses has observed notable differences in recruiting individuals when it comes to local versus city-based. “St Dominics has a history of excellence, and I have found that candidates are very eager to join the school. In cities, an employer could easily face a situation where a candidate plays one possible employer up against the other. One difference that I have seen with our search for a marketer was that most applications were from out of town, we are very pleased that we could appoint a local school marketer. Perhaps that is an avenue for the workforce of the near future to consider?”
Concluding, Docrat says, “Always include the good you do. Be it community projects, being a part of the youth foundation, or even your involvement in the respective religious organisation you are attached to. Employers appreciate humanity and what little you have done to make a difference to someone less fortunate than you.”
With these four business leaders offering valuable insight into what they face in employing prospective employees, be sure you follow their guidance.
What advice would you give job seekers? Share your views in the comment section below.