A bit of job search advice for our students 1

The academic year is speeding to an end and at this stage you have applied for further study, or you are looking for a job, or maybe both. This post hopes to offer some advice for those of you searching for a job.

job searchTo get an idea of what the landscape and the competition looks like we use the 2015 SAGEA Employer Benchmark Survey. You can draw conclusions from this since 93 top graduate employers participated and three fifths of the candidates were commerce students.

So who were these guys?

  • 63% held an undergraduate degree and 48% also held an Honours degree. There were some with post-grad diploma’s, national diploma’s and a few with Master’s degrees.
    • When in doubt, add another year of education since the pay premium for that Honours degree is 23%.
  • It seems that they tried to work on their knowledge and skills while at university: half of them had taken part in a vacation programme or internship, they did part-time or casual work, they volunteered, or were members of a student society or council.
  • Some 29% of the candidates had received an academic prize or scholarship during their time at university.

So how did they land these jobs?

  • They made lots of applications. On average candidates made 6 applications, but note, 22% made 10 or more applications.
  • They applied to companies in industries related to what they studied.
  • Two-fifths of the candidates said that they started researching the graduate employers in their final year.
  • A quarter had worked with their new employer prior to joining as a graduate. Most of this experience was gained via vacation work. But note, a third confirmed that they had no relevant work experience.
  • Training and development opportunities, the organisations’ reputation and long-term career prospects were the most important factors when deciding who to apply to, and which job offer to accept.
  • It typically takes between a month and four months from application to offer.
  • Nearly half of candidates were going to be working in Johannesburg, while 13 per cent had secured positions in Cape Town.
  • The median graduate starting salary was R180,000, but there are some exceptions. Very few employers offered a signing bonus and some paid a small relocation allowance.

Knowing what you are up against, it is best to go in prepared. Prof Krugell has some advice on putting together your CV and doing an interview: CVs interviews

In addition, we want to emphasise that you find out as much as you can about the company. Remember, you are going to tell them in that interview that your greatest hope is to get the opportunity to work for them – it is not going to sound very convincing if you know nothing about them.

In practical terms, this is also part of making a good impression and showing “fit”. This means that if you are applying in the banking / corporate consulting environment, gents should go with a suit and tie – ladies, this means professional office wear, covered shoulders and knees, no flip-flop sandals. Dress the part. It may be more relaxed elsewhere and there may be places where piercing and tatoo’s are cool, but the point is that you need to find out beforehand and be prepared. Rather be the overdressed one that got the job!

One comment

  1. Great insight Waldo, and thanks for sharing.

    In the market we’ve seen over the past 24 months a steady increase in various forms of career coaching solutions offered; some highly commendable. We’re also glad to see that candidates are not out on one limb, left to their own after a very brief induction only; the number of structured programs available are of good quality and still growing.

    We also hope that what have been set by our financial-, banking- and asset management sectors will keep on growing within all major sectors across various industries.

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