Why South Africa Needed an Online Community to Assist People Entering the Job Market

South Africa has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world with the 2017 stats sitting at 28%, according to Stats SA. We realized that there are many talented young people in South Africa who need advice on how to take the next, or first step, of their careers. We wanted to be the ‘go to’ advice panel for these people to assist them on their career journeys.

Some of the answers to the questions that we are asked may seem obvious; but sometimes I find that having been in the recruitment industry for as long as we have, we tend to take too many things for granted. People just want to know what to include on their CVs; how to follow up with recruiters once they have submitted their CVs to them or what to wear on the first day in their new jobs.

Unfortunately, in South Africa, there are a lot of young people who by the time they enter the job market, their parents have passed away. They don’t always have role models who can assist them in the dos and don’ts of entering the workforce. This is where we step in and offer guidance and support to these young people and almost ‘hand-hold’ them through their application and interview process.

Even though our weekly chat is only scheduled for an hour a week, we are finding that the questions are increasing throughout the week too. We each take turns in running the @JobAdviceSA account so we can keep up with the questions that come in during the week too. We also RT Job Adverts daily with our #JobAdviceSA hashtag to assist our members in finding employment. So, in all honesty our weekly chat is almost turning into a full-time job but luckily there are four of us co-hosts to help as our online traffic increases.

What is #JobAdviceSA and why do we host this weekly Twitter Chat?

I was super impressed to hear that some of my fellow SourceCon members from the Facebook Group had heard of #JobAdviceSA. How excellent that our weekly South African chat has reached as far afield as the US of A. Our online community is headed up by my fabulous co-hosts namely Wesley Madziva, Tim Barry, Elzette Fourie and myself. All of us agree that we love giving back to our online community and it indeed has become the highlight of all our weeks.

Let me start with how myself and my co-hosts met. Wesley, a Zimbabwean born recruitment/social media specialist, and I have known each other for years as we have ‘bumped’ into each other at many recruitment conferences or events. We have always shared a good laugh, mostly via social media. Tim, an HR tech specialist and I met through social media too. Tim is an Englishman who relocated to Cape Town with his South African wife five years ago. We only actually met ‘in the flesh’, for the first time, last year at a conference here in Johannesburg. Our newest co-host is Elzette Fourie, recruitment communications, and advertising specialist. Elzette was a regular and keen participant in our weekly chat so it made sense to bring her onto the team when we felt it was time to grow the team.

So why do we give so much of our precious free time to #JobAdviceSA?

The answer is simple really – we love to help people and to give back to the community.

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Our format is as follows: We post our questions on our website (www.jobadvicesa.co.za) before our weekly chat so people can see what topics we are covering for the week. For example, last week we chatted about our ‘youth and unemployment levels’ to tie in with National Youth Day. We ask four different questions a session, at fifteen-minute intervals. We often go a bit off topic so it’s good to have the set questions to keep us on track. We also get asked lots of other questions by our participants so it can be quite hectic at times.

We have run #JobAdviceSA since June 2014 and it has had an incredible impact on many young South African’s lives. I would say that we have assisted over one hundred people secure employment just through answering their questions and giving them the confidence to go out there and ace their interviews. This is an initiative that we want to continue to nurture in the years to come as we want to make a positive difference on our country’s economy and this is our way of helping others succeed in life.

We love to trend on Twitter and we often trend in the top three positions in the country during our #JobAdviceSA hour, and for most of the remaining part of the evening. This ‘trending’ has really helped to put us on the map and it draws a lot of people to our chat, who then become members of our larger online community. I would encourage anyone who feels that their community needs support and guidance to set up an online community and it is incredibly rewarding to help others.

Join us for our next #JobAdviceSA chat on Monday from 16h00 to 17h00, that’s GMT +2 hours. Alternatively, you can visit our website at www.jobadvicesa.co.za; follow us on Twitter on @JobAdviceSA or join our Job Advice SA Facebook Group.

You may wonder why we run this chat on Twitter as opposed to using Google Hangouts or a webinar. The answer is simple really, data. Free WiFi is hard to find in South Africa and buying data is not cheap, especially when you are unemployed. A Twitter chat is the most cost-effective method for us to reach the largest number of participants and to help as many people as possible. Just one of the many ‘Africanisms’ that need to be considered when working on this beautiful continent.

Vanessa is determined to bring the ‘Human Element’ back into today’s Recruitment Process. She believes that people are the core building blocks of every business but that doesn’t mean that we can treat every ‘block’ the same.

Vanessa has over 10 years’ experience in the Recruitment Industry and has specialized in the IT Applications space for most of this time. Before starting her career in Recruitment, she taught unruly children in London; operated a chairlift in the USA and taught people to Scuba Dive in SE Asia.

She has recently moved into the Internal Recruiting space to focus on her latest passion for Employer Branding; Talent Attraction and Social Media Marketing. Vanessa loves presenting about these topics and sharing her knowledge, and experiences, with others.

Vanessa’s non-profit Side Hustle is co-hosting South Africa’s longest running Twitter Chat, #JobAdviceSA. This is a weekly chat that has helped several Youth to put a CV together; to interview better and to find jobs.  Vanessa’s mantra is “Life is too short to work in boring jobs….” The same attitude can be applied to the way she has lived her life and how she tackles each day.

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