Dear graduate, you should take that lousy job.
The reality is that the lousy, lame, I-didn’t-study-for-so-long-to-end-up-here job is better than sitting at home waiting for your perfect job to just come along and find you (which, unless your name is Kim Kardashian, isn’t going to happen).
We know that these jobs are not what you studied for. The bleak unemployment stats mean that many will not find immediate employment in their field of study. But 38.2% of all youth aged 15 to 34 are unemployed, and the reality is that entering the labour market is tough, even for graduates.
A tertiary education is no longer a guarantee to securing employment,
the graduate unemployment rate in the first quarter of 2018 was 10,2% among those aged 25–34 years, while the rate among adults aged 35–64 years was 4,7%.
But I didn’t study so hard and for so long to end up doing this kind of a job, you may ask?
Taking that lousy job is in fact a strategic career move. Here are five reasons why you should take it.
1. A foot in the door is priceless in today’s economy
Before you get a job, you are a just another CV or a number. But once you get a job – even an entry level one – you have a face. You will be able to interact with senior staff members and even across departments. This access to a network of information and people allows you to be the first in finding out about new opportunities which will assist you in moving up the proverbial ladder. Your existing manager can also vouch for you in internal vacancies, if you do a good job.
If you come across an opportunity within a large organisation – even if its way below what you believe you are qualified for – consider taking it. Often in major corporations there is a lot of room for growth. Companies spot talent quickly, and if you distinguish yourself you will be noticed and recommended for a higher position.
2. There is strategy in joining a specific organisation
Dovetailing from the above point, if there is a certain company that you would like to work in, its worthwhile to take any position you can come across at that organisation. it is much easier to move up a company’s ranks from the inside than from the outside. Preference to existing staff is common – they already know the culture, the operations and the company’s mission. Existing staff are a known quantity and it is also a lot easier to upskill and train than someone from the outside.
3. Experience is king
Qualifications are one part of attaining employment, experience is the other. Experience even in lower positions makes you a more valuable asset to the organisation because it shows that you have resilience, tenacity and problem-solving skills. Experience cannot be taught, rather it is something you pick up Working in a real job. Experience offers transferrable skills which can serve you as you grow your career. For example, a successful call-centre agent develops the ability to work under pressure, meet deadlines, and communicate effectively – skills that can be transferred to a sales environment or a management role.
4. In-house training
Once employed, companies often provide in-house training to their staff. It may be in the form of a learnership, or a technical training, these make you much more employable. On the job skills, training and experience are vital for an employee to remain competent, relevant and productive.
5. Increase in social capital.
Studies have found that a lack of social capital contributes to unemployment. In other words, if among your immediate circle (family and friends) a few are employed, then the chances of you finding employment decrease exponentially. But once in the workplace, you will then have a brand-new network of people who are part of the formal economy. They come with their own contacts and experience and can be instrumental in helping you find a long-term career which is in line with your qualifications.
With about 3.3 million (32.4%) out of 10.3 million young people aged 15-24, not in employment, education or training, graduates looking to be secure employment, should not overlook entry level jobs, no matter where they how far they are from their qualifications. Entry level jobs assist in giving graduates a leg up in gaining experience, creating a network of contacts and learning new skills, all of which can be transferred into other roles
• Jake Willis is chief executive of Lulaway, a youth employment engine