Search Work? 3 Tips On How Social Media Can Help Young South Africans


Young people adapt particularly quickly to new technologies. i_am_zews/Shutterstock

South Africa has a growing unemployment rate. According to statistics, the unemployment rate is over 60% for 15-24 year olds and over 40% for 25-34 year olds. According to World Bank rankings, South Africa has the highest unemployment rate in the world.

This skyrocketing unemployment rate not only creates precarious and restrictive conditions for individual young people, but also poses a threat to the country’s economic growth and global competitiveness.

Another, much more positive statistic from the International Telecommunications Union positions young people as active technology users. Three quarters of 15 to 24 year olds worldwide are actively using the internet. Although figures show that this proliferation is mainly taking place in developed countries, there are advances on the African continent in terms of the technological infrastructure that leads to internet use.

These developments can also be observed in South Africa. The country’s internet penetration rate was 72.3% of the total population in early 2023. This paves the way for greater use of social media.

As researchers, we are interested in how young people can use social media to tackle the problem of unemployment in South Africa.

A study we conducted found three key ways for young people to use social media to improve their employability. Our results, like those of some other studies, place great emphasis on the role of social media in the context of high unemployment.

For the study, we interviewed 15 HR professionals whose work focused primarily on recruitment and selection. They help some of South Africa’s leading companies find the best candidates for specific roles. Those were her top three pieces of advice.

1. Using social media to build a personal brand

All respondents to our study agreed that social media could be used to build an individual’s brand. This is something that is becoming increasingly common and encouraged around the world.

The goal here is clear: through your social media activities, you convey a message about yourself. This can be useful for reaching out to the outside world and publicizing your skills. Social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn are a valuable resource for young job seekers to achieve this.

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2. Use social media to expand your networks

Once young people have an idea of ​​what their online ‘brand’ will look like, they can start connecting. This may be the case with other job seekers or potential employers. Networking offers the opportunity to learn more about the world of work and the challenging job market. With the help of information from networks, young people can be better prepared for insecurity.

Networking on social media platforms could include attending webinars and discussion forums. A number of social media platforms offer tools that enable interaction via text, audio or video. One participant in our study described the power of connectivity as follows:

Networking allows you to build your social capital on two fronts. First, you get access to interact with key stakeholders such as potential employers. Second…not just information, but a learning space from the experiences of others.

Respondents cautioned that young job seekers should not compromise their personal brand. one said:

Graduates should be warned about the things they should and shouldn’t be posting on social media and ensure their online media presence is closely monitored and updated so they know what others can see about them. Social media allows for quick and easy judgment…

Universities should consider offering social media awareness and personal branding training so that prospective graduates are not only aware of the complexities of the job market, but are also prepared for it. Graduate placement offices at universities could take on this task.

3. Using social media as a platform for further learning

Social media offers young people an endless reservoir of information about the world. It includes job postings, learning and internship opportunities, and tips on how to remain marketable in an ever-changing job market.

A participant in our study with experience in recruiting in the technology sector expressed this view:

I would recommend every young person to continue using social media as a source of learning. Learn more about the world of work through social media. It’s also important to learn about yourself and how you might fit into such a world.

combating unemployment

Our research suggests that young people should learn to search for job opportunities and to publicize their skills and profiles on social media. This can help them tap into a network that may offer them better opportunities in a situation of high unemployment.

High data costs remain a challenge. Businesses and content creators can help here to develop websites that can be accessed without data costs.

This article was republished by The Conversation, a nonprofit news site dedicated to sharing ideas from academic experts. Do you like this article? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

It was written by: Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamerindi, University of Fort Hare; Liezel Cilliers, University of Fort Hare, and Obrain Tinashe Murire, Walter Sisulu University.

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Willie Tafadzwa Chinyamerindi Receives Grant from National Research Foundation; National Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences and National Heritage Council.

Liezel Cilliers receives funding from the National Research Foundation and the South African Medical Research Council.

Obrain Tinashe Murire does not work for, advise, own any interest in, or receive funding from any company or organization that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations other than her academic employment.

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