Misguided misconceptions and myths, but no missiles.

I would appreciate any advice whatsoever on how best to get a job in South Africa. I kind of had a sort of/semi job there before I left, but I really do not have a lot of experience with job hunting in SA as opposed to the UK.


  • In the UK I have always hunted online. There are hoards of jobs out there. I never bothered to join an agency because the agencies put all their jobs online anyway, and I just searched websites instead. In my whole job hunting experience, I never really had to deal with another person.
  • I get the impression from my preliminary searches online that there are not quite as many jobs advertised online in SA. Where is the best place to look? Newspapers? Agencies? Is online the best?
  • I get the strong impression that finding a job in SA relies heavily on knowing someone who knows someone, ie far more contact and connection and word of mouth-based than in the UK. This is a bit of a problem for me because I don’t really know anyone any more, and this entails me dealing with actual people rather than the internet. I like the internet.
  • Then the CV. Both the BFG and I have made quite a study of the UK CV. What they seem to want is one or two pages focussing mostly on your experience. They are very experience-based employers. From what I understand in SA employers still ask for things like Matric results and varsity results. Is this true?! I quiver to think where my Matric results would actually be.
  • Also in the UK employers always ask for references. A reference will make or break any decision they make about you. In a way I think a reference is the best way to really know if a candidate will be easy to work with, hard working etc because it is coming from someone who has worked with you before.
  •  Do they ask for references in SA? I was thinking that even if they don’t, should I ask my current boss for one (I am assuming here that it will be good :)  ) and give it to prospective employers to increase my chances? Or are they more interested in my Matric results?
I really need all the help I can get because the BFG and I are both fighting great odds. His job is highly specialised. He works at an engineering consultancy that makes models of various aspects of the driveability and performance of vehicles (mainly F1 and other racing vehicles, but actually they can model pretty much anything, it doesn’t have to be a vehicle). This industry is not exactly booming in SA. I know they manufacture cars like crazy, but the design doesn’t really happen there. Every time we find a potential job for him it seems to include designing weapons, which he refuses to do.
    Why is SA designing so many weapons?
And as for me, well, my chances are even lower. I don’t have a Masters which is a big stumbling block in SA. And there really are almost no jobs in the field, at my level.  I would be prepared to do anything, in any field, really. If it involved reading, especially fiction reading, well that would be totally sweet. But if it involved serving coffee that would be fine too.  I just want to be able to work, in the country of my birth, and be self-supporting.
    That is all. Any advice would be much appreciated.

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Tamara
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 09:12:11

    There is a lot of online stuff in SA. It just depends what you’re looking for. And references are a must. Experience is more NB than your varsity results – you just need to list your varsity qualifications, what years you studied and have a copy of your degree handy in case. They also shouldn’t need your Matric results – just what years you were at school and where.

    WOW at the BFG’s job – that was what I wanted to do in high school, before I figured out that I suck at science ;-)

    It’s always nice to know someone who knows someone, but I can also point you in the direction of a few recruiter friends who are happy to do Skype interviews etc. Let me know.


  2. T
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 10:51:55

    Why did you never tell me the BFG’s job was so cool? I missed an opportunity to worship at his feet :(

    Oddly, while I looked online a lot, I found twitter and my begging blog posts helped a lot last time. But that’s probably because of the online nature of my work and all. I’ve seen loads of sciencey jobs over at CareerJunction so you might want to look online there. A site the BFG could try is Pnet – they mainly have IT stuff but there are engineering things thrown in on the side.

    Otherwise, I’d suggest recruitment companies. As much as I hate them for wasting my time whenever they contact me, most people do seem to use them so you can’t really get around it. P.S. Tamara could you point all of us your friends way? *cough*

    Oh yeah and check government sites. Since they’re obligated to advertise openings and you get such an awesome ride with government jobs, it might be something to consider, especially in your areas of work.


  3. poseamonkey
    Jul 07, 2011 @ 10:59:07

    Thanks guys!!! This is a big help. I hope I can conquer my job fears!


  4. Nes
    Jul 11, 2011 @ 12:02:44

    Job hunting sucks but I think that is just all over the world. Not specifically SA. I don’t know what you do but CareerJet, Pnet, Career Junction and Indeed.co.za are all awesome job hunting sites. I don’t know if having a MSc. helped with the jobs- I think people are quite experience orientated here too so your experience should help a lot.

    What helped me a lot was LinkedIn. I suppose its like a work version of FB. When you register it automatically goes through all your emails and adds those contacts (if you chose) and most people say yes. I then looked through the contact lists of my contacts and found the websites of all environmental companies and sent general emails to them. Thats how I actually found my new job so it actually works.

    Another thing to think of is any good connections you have already: maybe they know of a mailing list. I got put on a few mailing lists and then you hear of tons of jobs that way.

    The most important thing is to just keep at it. You and BFG will find awesome jobs. :)


  5. seamonkeypo
    Jul 12, 2011 @ 15:45:03

    Hey Nes, thanks so much! I haven’t done a Linkdin thing yet, I will do it, I think I should do it right now! Thanks for the advice. Your idea of looking for companies like that seems genius.


  6. Nes
    Jul 13, 2011 @ 06:17:56

    Hahaha! Thats me…genius ;) Anyway, good luck! :)


  7. Prixie
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 07:40:24

    Po, you’re coming back?

    I notice these sort of things are important to have on a CV in SA: Race and Own transport. Unfortunately it is more ‘who you know’ here. Frustrates me to all end!

    It always helps to add references.

    G’luck! And you can mail me with any questions you have. After all, I came back too and managed to re-start my life in SA.


  8. seamonkeypo
    Jul 18, 2011 @ 14:00:35

    Thanks Prixie, I may take you up on that closer to the time. Very kind!


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