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Many graduates assume that just because they have a qualification from a first-rate higher education system, they’ll be able to walk into a job of their choice.  This, however, is not the case. A degree will not correct spelling mistakes on a CV and will not excuse poor interviewing skills.

This is according to Kay Vittee, CEO of Kelly, who highlights that, according to global higher education analysts (Quacquarelli Symonds’ 2016 Higher Education System Strength (HESS)) rankings - South Africa has Africa’s strongest higher education system.  

She says, “Globally, South Africa was placed 30th out of the 50 countries ranked.”

“This is really a wonderful achievement as education continues to be one of the most important factors in bettering one’s circumstances and succeeding in a chosen career path.”

“So why are people like Anthea Malwandle, a BTech: Chemical Engineering graduate, standing at intersections with a placard, looking for work?” asks Vittee.

The Deputy Minister of Higher Education, Mduduzi Manana, recently said that there are 600 000 unemployed graduates in South Africa and if the number increases, it will cause chaos.

With this in mind, Vittee urges graduates to consider the following attributes which, together with a degree, is a recipe for job success:

  • Passion: Employers hire people who want to be there. If you can articulate why this particular job excites you, and why you feel you can offer a lot of value to the company, you are well on your way.  Remember that passion comes in many forms; for the job, the industry, career, company mission or a personal reason.
  • Cultural fit: Recruiters need to ensure that the candidate’s personal core values are aligned to the company. To demonstrate this, research is key.  It’s never a good idea to go into an interview unprepared so take time to learn about what makes the company tick by visiting its website and social network profiles. You need to demonstrate that you have a genuine interest in the company, on top of the skills needed to do the role.
  • Experience:  If you are fresh out of university, chances are that you don’t have much on-the-job experience.  However, by talking about the experience you gained while in university - like volunteering for causes you are passionate about – you’ll be able to demonstrate that you are motivated, passionate and involved.
  • Interpersonal communication skills:  According to a survey by the Association of American Colleges and Universities, 93% of employers cite critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills as more important than a candidate’s field of study. Furthermore, 95% of employers are looking for candidates whose skills translate into out-of-the-box thinking and innovation.
  • Network: As the saying goes - it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.  Consider joining a business networking group so you can meet and mingle with industry experts.  First impressions last so be sure to wow the experts with your passion and interpersonal communication skills.
  • “Last but certainly not least – be bold.  Remember that a simple tweet turned Uber CEO, Travis Kalanick, into a billionaire,” concludes Vittee.