How to get a job as a new graduate in the toughest job market – When no one is hiring


In a tough job market, where it seems like no company is hiring, finding a job becomes a very daunting task. As a new university graduate, the question here is: “how will I still be able to find work in such an environment?”. The answer is yes, you can find work in any tough job market. This article will give you tips on the best ways to do so.

The Game

Basically, two benefits come with working for a company and as a new university graduate, you have to make sure you are never losing out on them. They are:

  • Earning money

– This is quite obvious as you cannot earn money without working

  • Being “in the game”

– This may be a little obscure but is the controlling factor. Being in the game basically means that you are working. Having the opportunity to work also means earning money. That is why this benefit is so important.

For example, a university graduate we will call John Adams finds a temporary job for eight weeks as a maternity cover, working as a receptionist. The pay is nothing to write home about but he looks only at the opportunity to work and not much else. One day, a client walks through the door and John receives him very well. Impressed, as the client is leaving, then asks of his name and how long John has been working there. John says: “My name is John Adams and I just started two weeks ago. I’m here on a maternity cover so I’m only going to be here for eight weeks. I’ve already spent two weeks here and I’m going to be leaving in six weeks but I’m really enjoying myself here”.

John got himself “in the game” by getting that temporary job as a receptionist. He gave his best at work, impressing a client that passed through the door. Further, his answers to the client’s questions gave him a better chance of getting a permanent, better paying job. The client themselves could’ve hired him or helped him find work with someone else who might have had an open position. The client could’ve even helped John get hired permanently where he was working temporarily as a maternity cover.

This is what is meant by being “in the game”, finding opportunities to work no matter the position or amount you are earning.

What You Can Do

As a new university graduate, the likelihood that you are not working and thus not earning is pretty high. You have to mitigate those risks so that you don’t stay without work for too long. The next question is: how do you do this in a very tough job market where it seems no companies are hiring?

First, always have the mindset that nothing is impossible. No condition in life doesn’t provide an escape route. Having that mindset will give you the motivation to press forward in finding a job. Second, spend very little to no time at all thinking about what you might earn. The alternative could always be worse. You could be earning nothing and still not be “in the game”.

Identify five to ten organizations you would want to work for if the job market was normal. Then in the next one or two months, master as many entry-level skills as you can. Spend probably 20 to 30 hours a week within a 30 to 60-day window, mastering digital skills. Master elements of Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets such as formulas and functions, conditional and basic formatting, data validation, pivot tables, charts and graphs, basic if statements or math and date functions. It might seem a little overwhelming at first glance but rest assured, it is quite easy and straightforward.

You will need to master these skills regardless of what you majored in at the university you attended. It is only in very rare situations people find jobs that are closely related to what they studied in the university. Unless you majored in a field where your job is assured when you graduate out of the university such as human biology (medical school ), you will have to be very flexible and open to all possibilities.

Master how to create powerful and effective presentation slides with free tools like Canva, Prezi, Google Slides or Microsoft Powerpoint. Sadly, many experienced and seasoned employees aren’t as adept at this as you would think. They come up with very scrambled, extremely busy slides that even put their audience to sleep. Learn from people like Nancy Duarte, who is one of the best slide design tutors in the world and Google some of her slide design concepts. These are the same kind of concepts used by companies such as Apple and Tesla to present their products. These types of slide designs are highly engaging graphically, with little text and that’s what you would want to learn.

Master data visualization, using tools like Google Data Studio. Volunteer to visualize your boss’s data for them after you have mastered this skill and they will definitely be blown away. Finally, find a way to master skills in digital marketing, especially social media marketing. Learn how to set up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram business pages as well as YouTube channels, creating your own channel art using Canva. All these skills are quite easy and can be mastered within 30 to 90 days. All you need is the ability to commit.

Once you are confident of the skills you have acquired, write a cover letter to one of the companies you identified earlier, stating your willingness to work for free for a period of 60 to 90 days. Write about your traditional skills, what field of study you majored in the university as well as all the digital skills you have acquired. Be sure to go into detail because just plainly stating that you are proficient in Microsoft Excel isn’t enough. More importantly, do not focus on money. Make it very clear that you are mainly there to help.


In a tight market, typically when the economy’s really bad and tanking, most organizations will be extremely happy with people like you, and nine out of ten times will accept your offer because they will see it to be a great initiative you are taking. To them, you will appear as someone very serious and focused on what they want to achieve in life. Most African students graduating from university are always so focused on money. However, by taking this very bold step, you put yourself amongst the top 1% of the most employable people in the job market.

Once you start, put in your best. Try to get to work at least 30 minutes early and be one of the last people to leave. Cut your lunch breaks short and even try to work through lunch for all the 90 days you will work there. Have a great attitude, always have a smile on your face and be happy for the opportunity you have been given. You can be certain that before the 90 days are even up, they will create an opening for you as a full-time employee. Once you have done this, you would have been “in the game”.

Even if the company decides not to hire you as permanent staff, you’d have lost nothing. You were in the game and not sitting on the sideline. Now you have real work experience that you can put on your CV. You also have built a workplace network that you can count on for your next job search and you are 10 times better than your unemployed colleagues who sat at home.

If you can take these steps, no matter how bad the economy is, you will find work and you will have a great career.

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