I know this message is a little belated, but let me take this opportunity to be the first to congratulate you on your great achievement. It is another milestone in your life that must be carved in stone with the words, “We Came, We Toiled, We Graduated”. The road was definitely not easy at times the journey was rough, the humps were too high and the potholes too deep yet you tarried on. Finally you can forget about the books for a while, never sit through the lecturers you loathed and bury the Fs because this is your moment to savour.
When you held that coveted degree and raised that cap high, you declared to the world that you are ready and all we can do is await your greatness. We welcome you into another world of opportunities and for many of you the unwelcome title of Job Seeker has been bestowed upon you. This is a truth that many will deny. It is every graduates dream to find a job immediately after graduating and the very fortunate few actually do. Sadly, the majority will have to send tonnes of applications, attend to tens of interviews and continue to wait for that prized call. Therefore, this is my advice and encouragement to you.
The reality of being a job seeker will probably sink into you about a month after graduation when you have not received a call for an interview. The daily newspapers are a job seeker’s best friend. No other day has more jobs than a Monday. Try by all means to look at all three daily newspapers namely The Post, Daily Mail and Times of Zambia. The reason is that some employers only chose to advertise in one newspaper and not all three. Do not rely on your friends to tell you about jobs in the papers if they too are looking for jobs. They will probably tell you about it after the deadline has passed, so it is your own duty.
When you look at job advertisements apply for positions that you think are close to your qualification or think you can do. Do not fall into the trap of disqualifying yourself before the recruiters do it. The bottom line is that you have nothing to loose and everything to gain. My rule of thumb is as long as it does not exceed three years work experience, go ahead and apply for it. Send, send and send.
There are some of you who are going to be offered jobs that you believe are not worth taking. Think twice before you turn it down. Many have done that and have roamed the streets far longer than they anticipated. So what if you are taken to the rural areas, so what if you don’t get to go to Manda Hill or the position is lower than what you expected. It is always easier to change jobs when you are working than the other way around. If you know that your CV is not strong enough to enable you to get another opportunity do not make the mistake of being too choosy. Acquire the experience any way you can and then you may have the luxury to selecting where you work.
One of the most challenging times is when you begin to hear you friends getting employed while nothing seems to be coming your way. You begin to question whether you studied the right programme, is there a curse on you? Is there some sin you committed or it is time for corruption. Whatever, you do do not lose hope. I advise you to keep busy volunteer, start a business, network, ignite a talent, or study a short course. Try to keep doing something no matter how small. Eventually you will get there; it is only a matter of time.
Finally, to every graduate the world is full of opportunities that wait to be taken. Opportunities will not come shouting your name, it is for you to seek them out and grab them. Find your own path and follow it. The road your friend travels is not yours to follow but theirs. Take chances, do not be afraid of risks, always learn and build your networks. When your stories are told of how you became CEOs, Entrepreneurs, Consultants, Inventors, Innovators, Philanthropists, Directors and every position in between, we shall always say, “They belong to the Graduating class of 2011.” We await you.
Former Job Seeker.