Most of students regularly say the No. 1 reason to attend university is to “get a job or perhaps a better if they had one already.  There are so many surveys that prove that many new graduates are still struggling to find the right fit for their skills and interests.

Here is a breakdown on why fresh and experienced graduates in Uganda find it difficult getting jobs.

1.)  Increased competition.

The days when a degree was only accessible to the rich and elite are over. Universities have become more affordable and a lot of pressure has been put on students to attend tertiary education in order to find a good job. The result?Record number of university applications across the nation, resulting in more college graduates, and thus,
more competition for the limited number of jobs available on the market. I can also safely assume that every person reading this knows at least one person in their social circle who has graduated and is still having difficulty getting a job.

The secondary effect of this is that the days when having a degree alone would get you a job are over. The “prestige” that comes with having a degree has now become diluted with the rampant number of students graduating. You now need something more than just a degree to get you that first job out of college. (more on that later).

2.) Little or no work experience.
Many college/university graduates make the grave mistake of assuming that their degree alone will qualify them for a job. They spend their college years just getting by, partying, and essentially, wasting their time. Because there’s more competition, college graduates are now a dime a dozen. What’s going to separate one college graduate with a degree from the next and the next and the next?

The result is they get stuck in a catch 22 position. They have no job experience, yet all the jobs out there require it if you want to apply. So they can’t get a job because they have no experience and in order to get a job, they need a job for work experience, but they can’t get a job without work experience and the cycle viciously continues.

One way to get out of this cycle is to not pass up on jobs that you may think are beneath you. Swallow your pride and take those jobs or intern for free at a company you would like to work at. You’ve got to start somewhere, and if you didn’t take the time to gather decent work experience during your college years, this is the price you may have to pay.

Always keep in mind that jobs can lead to other jobs. You never know if the job you think is beneath you can lead to the job you want. There’s always room to move up in the company. Always do more than what you are asked to do. That is one of the keys to moving on up Plus, by actually having that job, it can provide valuable work experience and knowledge, as well as the much needed dough.

3.) Lack of networking
Many people get jobs through referrals. Statistics show the majority of people get their jobs this way. The reason why word of mouth is so effective is because it cuts through all the worry of whether or not this person can do the job.

If somebody has been working for a company for some time, then that employee knows what it takes to succeed, and if that employee knows somebody who can do it, it’s an easy fit. The employer will trust the employee referring the new candidate and the new candidate will most likely get the job.

There’s just one catch though. You have to be “worthy” of being referred. Remember that the reputation of the person referring you is one the line. If you do a bad job, you make them look worse. So have a fine reputation of being a hard worker, someone who learns easily, etc. so people will be happy to refer you. Spend a lot of time networking at college. Make a ton of friends, get in touch with people etc. Don’t underestimate the power of networking and word of mouth.

4.)  No preparation on the CV and cover letter.
Your CV and cover letter act as your first impression. You can’t charm them with your presence or your smile. Your writing does it all for you. So spend some time to make it look and sound good. When describing yourself or your work history, use action words. It makes a big difference. Go to google and type in “CV action words” and you should get a ton of sites which you can use as a reference when crafting your CV.

If you do not know how to write a professional CV and cover letter I suggest you get some professional editing done as well. It’s worth the investment. Think of all the money you can earn by just investing a very small portion of it to professional editing.

5.) No interview skills
So you’ve got past the CV stage and now you’re at the interview. Think it’s a breeze? Think again.

They WILL ask the hard hitting questions. Why should we hire you? What do you bring to the table? Tell me about yourself (that throws off a lot of people) What’s your greatest weakness (obviously reframe this question when you answer), etc. There are a ton of resources online you can tap into in order to prepare. Use our trusty friend Google.

You must prepare. Have all your answers ready to go when the question is asked. Be prepared to give examples of things you’ve listed on your CV.

When you meet the interviewer, don’t give the limp fish handshake or the bone crushing one. Give a firm handshake and smile. Show your friendly side. We are all human.

Wear the suit, tie and jacket. It’s never wrong to overdress. Even when I applied for a part time position while in college, I went to the interview wearing a suit and later found out I was the only applicant to do so and yes, I did get the job.

When they ask: Do you have any questions?, make sure you do! Always ask questions. This shows you’re interested in the job. Ask what kind of skills/qualities are needed to succeed in the job. Ask what a day in the life of the job is, etc.,

This is also your opportunity to flip the tables on them.

6.) No weapon x
You’ve got to have an edge. Something that’ll make you stand out from the rest. Be different. Among a sea of black family sedans, be the fiery red convertible.

I can’t help you with this part as the only person who knows yourself the best is you. So take some time, sit down and think of what are some of the best qualities you have and write them down. You can use this when they ask you the hot question of: Why should we hire you?

7.) No follow up

So you sent the CV and cover letter, but didn’t hear anything back? Follow up. It can’t hurt. It can only help. Shoot an email or a phone call and ask what’s going on. Chances are, they may have not received it or forgotten about it. It also shows your tenacity and separates you from the rest of the people who don’t follow up. Don’t just assume that they don’t want you and wallow in your self pity. Take action and make it happen.

8. Quitting too easily
Not getting any call backs can be depressing. Don’t look at it as a negative thing. Look at it as a positive thing. It’s just a sign you have to change things because it’s not working.

If you have worked in sales, you know that all sales is just a numbers game. If you have a good product (which is yourself) and if you can put the product out there in front of as many buyers as possible, you’ll eventually make a sale. It’s inevitable.

So don’t quit. Keep on going.

9.) A lack of people skills
One of the greatest myths regarding getting a job is that you just have to have the skills and knowledge. That may be true for some jobs, but the other major thing that employers are looking for is social skills. Will you integrate well with the staff? Will you mesh with co-workers? Are you a positive person? Are you easy to get along with?, etc.

I remember times when a lot of staff members would talk about the interview right after he left. They talked about whether or not to hire him based on not his skills, but his behavior, demeanor and likeability. This ties in with the tip of: Be nice to everyone you see in the office because they DO talk about you after you leave. The secretary, the intern, etc,. they all chip in and can help make or break you.

Try to avoid these types of mistakes and you shouldn’t fall into the pool of  graduates who are having a hard time finding a job.

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You just have to keep trying. Keep at it and do not draw back.

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