Counselling and career development

Job searching

Before you start

Download the Job Searching conversation sheet with questions to help you think about your job searching preparation and approach.

Job-search checklist

  1. I have developed a career plan for myself.
  2. I know what I can offer to an employer.
  3. I have organised and planned a job search.
  4. I have identified people that can help me to find a job
  5. I have researched potential job opportunities.

If you did not tick one or more of these statements, it means that there are some steps that you can take to improve your chances of finding work. Before we explain these steps further, let us explore why it is so difficult to find work.

Why is it so difficult to find work?

Your job search does not happen in isolation. Your ability to find work could be influenced by the following factors:


Employers assume that more experienced workers are less likely to make mistakes and that they understand the workplace and its challenges better. Many job-seekers face the difficulty of being asked to have job experience, but how can they develop work experience if they can not find a job? How can you gain work experience when you have just completed grade 12, or your certificate, diploma or degree? You can consider options such as temporary work, volunteering, learnerships and starting your own business. Remember that the above experiences will only have value for your future career development if you treat them as professional opportunities. The following are suggestions for approaching any work experience so that it can add meaningfully to your career development:


  • Knowledge. Expand your knowledge by reading about, or enrolling in, a course relevant to your career.
  • Attitude. Employers appreciate employees who have a positive approach to their work. Always try to do more than what is expected from you.
  • Show interest and apply continuous improvement. Read about the industry you are working in and see where you can make a difference and improve your performance.
  • Behaviour. Always dress and behave appropriately.
  • Timekeeping and absence. Be punctual. Manage your time at work so that you complete tasks on time. Remember that sick leave is in emergencies only - it is not something to be planned.

Educational qualifications

Many jobs require some form of qualification. Begin with your career plan to identify which qualifications you will need to complete to improve your chances of obtaining employment in your desired field.


Do a "skills check" regularly to determine which skills you have developed and which ones you still need to develop.

Labour market conditions

The number and types of jobs available in the job market will affect your ability to find employment. The modern economy is knowledge-based, meaning that there is an emphasis on delivering services and working with information. This requires a higher level of skills and knowledge to get jobs.

Job-hunting essentials

Here are some essential steps to a well-planned job search:

  • Have focus - your career plan should act as a compass for job searches.
  • Preparation - know yourself, and research the labour market, jobs and companies,
  • Be confident - this flows from knowing yourself and what you want
  • Use many different ways of researching job opportunities - don't limit yourself just to advertisements in newspapers or the Internet
  • Have a carefully written CV - remember to customise your CV for each job application
  • Develop good interview skills - prepare and practice *Remember to network - establish connections with as many people as possible
  • Develop a job search plan - plan your job search step by step and evaluate your methods frequently my employability skills

Organise and plan your job search

Organise and plan your job search so that you do not waste time, energy and money. Here are some suggestions:

Create a job-search folder

This can be a sub-section of your career portfolio, or it can be a separate file where you keep track of job leads, job ads and contacts. Also, store copies of your certificates and ID document in case you need them. Keep track of all the jobs that you have applied for, as well as feedback that you received. Also use this folder to store all the research you have completed in terms of occupations, jobs, industries, and possible employers.

Plan your days

Develop your system to keep track of what you need to do and when. Keep notes of what you have done and what you need to follow up on. Who can help you with your job search? You have to be proactive - remember that you will have to go out and find a job, and a job will not find you. It is important to identify enough sources of information to assist you in your search for work. Here are some examples of possible sources and what type of information you can get from them:

  • Family and friends. Ask family and friends who are working whether they know of any job openings where they work and who you could contact.
  • Community notice boards. These notice boards are in public places such as shops. Take down the details and follow up on the information.
  • Phonebook/ Yellow pages. Check for contact details of factories and companies in your area. Call them or visit them to find out about opportunities.
  • Labour Centres. Contact the national Department of Labour to find out if there is a Labour Centre close to where you live. Approach the Labour Centre for information about possible job opportunities.
  • Newspapers. Most newspapers advertise jobs. Cut out the advertisements and keep them in your job search folder. Also, identify recruitment agencies that advertise in specific industries and contact them.
  • Radio. Local radio stations sometimes announce where a new factory will open or where and when a big government project will be launched. Find out more about these opportunities.
  • Internet. There is a wealth of information available on the internet about job opportunities. Many sites also allow you to store your CV online and enable you to apply for jobs online. Learn how to use professional networking platforms such as LinkedIn effectively and connect with your network online.
  • Other: Who or what else can you identify to help you with your job search?

Research about possible job opportunities

Find out as much as possible about the jobs that you are interested in and the company that is advertising the job. You should organise the information to match the jobs to your skills, education and experience. You can analyse jobs in terms of the following:

  • What skills are required?
  • What qualifications are required?
  • What characteristics are required?
  • What experience is needed?
  • What kind of a position is it? (part-time, full-time)

Also, find out at least the following about the company:

  • What goods or services does this company provide?
  • Where is this company located?

Learn more about researching job opportunities.

Last modified: 2023/08/07