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Succeeding in the difficult job market
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Succeeding in the difficult job market

Fresh graduates usually struggle finding jobs. With the job market being very competitive, many lose hope of finding a proper paying job.

Many universities have tried to solve the problem of unemployment by creating different workshops and events. Some universities provide CV writing workshops, interview workshops, networking workshops and sometimes create events where the employers come and mingle with students to find prospective employees.

In order to kick start a career as a fresh graduate, career services can be a good way to start. It could help you build your resume and develop interview skills as well as help find work or an internship.

Addis Ababa University started a career service recently in 2018. Kassu Jilcha (PhD), director of the career service, told The Reporter that Addis Ababa university offer many services to its students. He said that the career service department focuses on soft skills like CV writing, ethics, personality, understanding a company and entrepreneurship. The career service at AAU was established on May 14, 2018 and it was initiated by the Ministry of Education.

Kassu told The Reporter that there are different events throughout the year like career week. Also some motivational speakers give speeches and there is an annual job fair that is usually conducted in May that involves different industries. He said that this helps open doors for students. For instance, this service aids in finding internship or placements to practice hard skills and adhere themselves into work environments. They also provide trainings for graduating class students. However, Kassu noted that several challenges are encountered since they are newly established.

At Addis Ababa University, 3,000-3,500 undergraduate student graduate per year. And among those 1,281 students have met employers during job fairs and some of them have been employed.

During the job fair, around 18 companies took part including NGOs, tech companies, and Ethiopian Airlines. One of the challenges that Kassu mentioned was that government companies usually do not attend this job fair because they do not hire people with no experience.

Kassu said that the career services at AAU has so far been successful as 80 percent are employed by the end of the second year after they graduate. However, Kassu believes that not all companies can accommodate all students. Because of this, he says that the university encourages students for entrepreneurship. “Increasing manpower is not enough without industries, which is why entrepreneurship is very important.” Kassu told The Reporter, adding that the number of graduating students surpass that of job openings.

Kassu also claimed that some employers told them that some students are not capable and have no ethics. They usually judge this from their CV writing as some students for instance might send the same CV to two companies without even changing the name of the company that they are applying too. Mistake on communications also portray that they are not capable. Even though, hard skills can be learned, soft skills and lack of communication portray a bad image. “Generally, they do not have enough confidence in our students,” he told The Reporter.

Petros Mulugeta, who works at the Ethiopian Investment Commission, graduated from Addis Ababa University School of Social Work in 2018.  He told The Reporter that AAU Students Career Development Center and College of Social Sciences gave students a one-day career development training, cv preparation, job application writing, job searching and job interviews skills training just when they were about to graduate. He added that there was a job expo and networking event at the Millennium Hall sometime around August. “The CV preparation training definitely helped. The career service especially helped me in writing a good cover letter, and I got the first and only job I applied to. I read a lot online about what the organization does and many online “investment for dummies” articles because I didn’t know anything about the subject matter before then. I also read and practiced job interview questions before I applied,” Petros told The Reporter.

Another student, who preferred to stay anonymous, told The Reporter that her university has some career services that they provide. Before graduating they post programs and the requirements needed for them to fulfil in order to join a company. “So they give us a chance to compete among ourselves and join the company,” the 5th year Civil Engineering student said. She claimed that they had many networking events and they pass on the CV to the companies and then show up for an interview. She told The Reporter that she will look for a job by following vacancies and if not by creating their own business based on their careers or other jobs. She added that she has found the career service at university very helpful with writing her CV and figuring out what companies are looking for.

For a country that is growing rapidly, unemployment rate is high. Many are seen desperate to find a job. According to Trading Economics, unemployment rate in Ethiopia has increased to 19.10 percent in 2018, from 16.90 percent in 2016.

Siham Ayele, project manager at Ethio Jobs, told The Reporter that while Ethio Jobs does not directly give advice and guidance to fresh graduates, under its wings it established Dereja.com, an entire unit for fresh graduates and young professionals.

“When we first started Dereja, we wanted to reduce the large gap created between fresh graduates coming out of university and the labor market. Since 2017 Dereja is undertaking project in tackling the issue of youth unemployment,” she said.

She added that the entire model is based on creating platforms and channels that can pave the way for next generation professionals. She said that when they provide the service, they do it in intervals based on programs they carry out throughout the year.

“Right now, for instance, our recent addition, Dereja Academy, is collecting applications to give full career guidance, soft-skills training with access to potential employment opportunities. In 2019 as a pilot program the Dereja Academy program graduated 65 students which currently all are being employed, self-employed or continue their education,” she told The Reporter. She added that they also collaborated with universities and different departments to help students find employment.

Siham outlined that the job market is highly competitive and the economy does not produce enough jobs to cater to the 200,000 jobseekers that are coming out in the universities every year, so it can be said there is a huge gap between the supply and demand. However, she believes that as Dereja is developing different employability skill enhancement programs and supporting universities to produce employable graduates that can be fit and competent for the jobs that are existing she says that they can create indirect job opportunities since all employers at the end of the day are looking for trained and right fit talent.

 “Please invest in yourself, make an effort to continuously develop and look for mentors and any opportunities that can contribute to your self-awareness and development,” she advised fresh graduates.

“Fresh graduates never have proper guidance when it comes to looking for jobs or identifying their career path. So, to begin with they don’t even know what to look for so they always don’t know where, when and how to look for jobs. They usually tend to look for jobs directly related to their degrees without any awareness about the requirements and the organization,” she told The Reporter. The first thing is to have a proper CV, dressing properly and going in the job search world with the right attitude.

Contributed by Sesina Hailou