“So, what are you up to these days?” This is a burning question I have received from a variety of people these past couple of months. For a while, this question was an anxiety trigger for me…
I’m an educated young person who wants to do something meaningful with her life, but for the past five months or so, I’ve been searching for a job. Yes, two Masters degrees later, the employment search has been my daily mission!

I have leveraged my networks (to minimize information asymmetries*), watched relevant YouTube videos, downloaded documents for interview preparation; signed up to platforms like the Harvard Business Review, Fin24, Wall Street Journal and The Economist to keep abreast with relevant news updates globally. I even tweaked my LinkedIn profile to look more attractive to recruiters. Friends and acquaintances have coached me through mock interviews and given me pointers on how to position myself better as a job-seeker. Months of hard work have gone by and after many ‘promising’ interviews, I am still UNEMPLOYED!

*Job seekers are unlikely to be informed fully about job characteristics, and firms cannot exhaustively screen and negotiate with all applicants.

If it’s so challenging to find a job that’s a good fit for me, how much worse is it then for someone with little or no qualifications; no friends to coach them for interviews; no one to help them tweak their resume; no networks to keep them in the loop on employment opportunities?

There’s a term called discouraged workers (those who are long-term unemployed and have basically stopped looking as a result). I think about friends and relatives who have become discouraged workers because finding a job is so hard and they have no support to position themselves properly in the labour market. Some are not even based in areas with the right job opportunities; so the cost of traveling to a particular location to submit their resumes or attend interviews is high. Moreover, what about the inequalities in Internet/Wifi access!

As an Economics major, I am fully aware of the high youth unemployment rates on our continent. Personal stories from my dear friends in Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya about the employment struggle constantly play in my head. As a current data point in the pool of unemployed youth myself, the sobering statistics hold heavier weight to me…

Job hunting is emotionally, mentally and physically taxing. I have ping-ponged between feelings of frustration, inadequacy, discontentment and discouragement. I have felt so stagnant. Sometimes I’ve felt alone in the struggle, making it easier to withdraw: at some point I started to avoid events and public gatherings in an effort to hide. I grew tired of figuring out how I’d phrase this current life stage of job hunting when people asked.

Of course, I’m a positive young lady and I’m taking it one day at time. I do believe things will work out. Texts like these from Dad also help!

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Encouraging texts from Dad.

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Youth make up majority of the African population. Their livelihood is pertinent for the sustainability of the future: In other words, we are the development priority. It’s youth month in South Africa and I have been reflecting on how many youths on the continent are dissatisfied. Even those with impressive qualifications cannot be absorbed by the labour markets in their home countries. Most are not empowered or supported to start their own businesses. Such circumstances can lead to depression (and possibly suicide), crime as a result of desperation, idleness, envy, anger; etc. There’s no freedom in that!

The plight of youth has become more personal to me because I am experiencing the difficulty of finding a job in spite of my qualifications. After each rejection call or e-mail, I have to pluck up the strength and motivation to try again. How much more difficult is it then for other young South Africans with fewer resources than mine?

What should our response be?

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Posted by:sibasselah

23 replies on “Forever Young…

  1. First of all, it takes guts and a lot of courage to be this vulnerable and to put yourself out there as you have. I applaud you for that. Secondly, I feel horrid that I did not consider how many of us are asking you this question repeatedly and how that must make you feel – I apologise. Keep your eyes on the author and perfecter of faith and guard against the downward spiral into self condemnation, fear and anxiety. Hugs and I will send you an email separately about any opportunities I come across.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. All the best dear but I wish more can be done about this, it’s not only you and so maybe we can ask the big companies and recruiting agencies why is that the case, what is it that we doing wrong

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  2. Brave and beautiful… That’s what you are🖤🖤🖤 Petitioning the heavens with you and on your behalf for things to fall into place. God is far from being done with you!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember being in the same position after completing my Honours. It was just rejection after rejection. When I finally got an offer it was in a sector I was not at all interested in and as a result I did not enjoy my work. But I always felt like I needed to be grateful that “at least you have work” even though I was really unhappy.
    One day I just snapped and knew I needed to do something that was more fulfilling to me, so I came back to school. Even as I’m studying I’m always anxious about whether I’ll find work after this.
    I think the answer is to keep knocking on those door or even creating our own opportunities, tough as that may be.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for this Siba. Firstly it is so well written and secondly, it has me thinking how we should respond now that our eyes are open. It’s also so crazy to me how God will often allow us to go through certain things in order to awaken our hearts for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and I can relate so much. It took me six months to find a job after graduating with a PhD, and I had so many times of doubt. I fully believe that God is preparing an amazing role for you, and this Selah period is part of the work that he is doing in you. It is also totally understandable and recommended to take breaks from the job search because your soul needs it. Will pray about the job situation and sending love 😘.

    Like

  6. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us all and for having the courage to talk about the reality so many of us are faced with. I myself have been so broken after having to deal with another bad interview or rejection. But I remember that our courage comes from the deepest and darkest things we have experienced. The difficulties that shape us and which we continue to grow from. Blessings to you as you continue on your journey and may it be one filled with great wisdom, joy, hope and success.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you for being the voice for many other young people who have not found the right words to describe what you beautifully penned down in this blog. UJehovah uthembe wena Sisi and kulesisimo uzozibonakalisa uBawo.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Our Lord works in mysterious ways hun… none can fathom. Even in this season He is up to something – your story is continually being written.

    What a good read – we eagerly await the next post.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The job market in SA can be discouraging. There just aren’t enough jobs for the number of people seeking employment… but do not be discouraged. Your future is going to be brighter than you ever imagined!!! Stay positive and be open to any and all opportunities that present themselves. You have a lot to offer the world and I believe that kind of attitude will attract what you are destined for. Pray always. We serve a living God!

    Liked by 1 person

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