The Power of You
Anyone who has been job hunting knows it is an incredibly challenging task – one made infinitely more difficult when there is a shortage of jobs available. South Africa has a high national unemployment rate at 27.6%, and youth unemployment in the country stands at an all-time high of 55.2%.
Unsurprisingly, being unemployed comes with heightened levels of stress. Some of the more apparent stressors are financially based – the loss of income, for example – but others are not so obvious. According to the New York Times, if someone is still job hunting after 10 to 12 weeks, their physical health suffers and they experience increased rates of depression. In some circles, this is referred to as ‘job-search depression’.
The competition is fierce, as the average job posting receives about 250 applications and the current average that it takes for companies to fill a post is about 42 days. The longer you go without employment, the tougher it is on your mental and emotional health, and the tougher it becomes, in turn, to find a job. It’s a vicious cycle. So how can you overcome these barriers?
Cue ‘The Power of You’. This personal branding workshop was by the team in FleishmanHillard’s South Africa office as part of FH4Inclusion to celebrate Mandela Day. Each year Mandela Day serves as an occasion for all to act, inspire change and make an impact on the world. In honor of what would have been Nelson Mandela’s 100th birthday, we designed and delivered a programme for South African communications and public relations students who are beginning the search for their first full-time role. The trainings help up-and-coming professionals with job searches, providing them the best possible start.
Knowing how hard it can be to land a job and how demotivating it is to not receive feedback, especially in those first few months, we wanted to show young jobseekers that their story is the unique selling point they need to get their foot on the first rung of the career ladder. We take them through how to uncover and tell their unique story.
One of the big challenges with job searching is the effect it has on your self-esteem. In a lot of ways, job hunting is like searching for approval and it can be a big knock to the ego when you aren’t getting any positive feedback. Even though it may be hard, it is crucial to remain social, remain focused, network and learn new skills. It is important for young people on the job hunt to know who they are and the value they can bring to the workplace, especially in entry level positions. We help them understand their brand and how they can establish and promote themselves on social media and created eye-catching CVs with compelling cover letters. We also conduct mock interviews to give them some much-needed practice.
For this programme, our overall goal is to support 100 young jobseekers in the Communications and Public Relations field by the end of 2020. To date, 26 students have gone through the programme with an additional 30 students to come in the rest of 2019.
The Power of You is our South Africa office’s small way of using our unique set of skills to propel the next generation of consultants forward by harnessing the power of their own unique stories to jumpstart their careers.
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Angela Maciel is a member of the talent development team in the South Africa office. She is responsible for recruitment and helps lead the office’s diversity and inclusion and training programs.