How far would you go to get a job? Would you beg by the side of a busy street for it? If you don’t have the stomach for that, then some desperate young graduates in South Africa and Nigeria have you beat. They are fully prepared to pose in public, holding placards with their credentials written in bold letters.
“0827661789. I have B-Tech CHEMICAL ENGINEERING. PLEASE HELP!!! I NEED A JOB. CV IN MY POSSESSION,” read the placard of Anthea Malwandle who started the “placard job seeker” trend in South Africa
— Proudly SA (@ProudlySA) May 18, 2016
Malwandle, who graduated from the Vaal University of Technology (VUT) with a chemical engineering degree in 2015, was called to interview at Sosal, a chemical and energy multinational, after a morning radio show host called her up due to the social media interest she had stirred up. Many other potential employers also phoned in seeking to offer her a job.
— Koketso Sachane (@KoketsoSachane) May 18, 2016
— MySouthAfrica (@MySouthAfrica94) May 18, 2016
The trend has found a particularly eager set of adopters in Nigeria
Placard job seeker trend hits Nigeria
In the wake of Malwandle’s newfound success in the job market, other young graduates, desperate for work have decided to emulate her. The trend has found a particularly eager set of adopters in Nigeria, where Lilian Chinyere Douglas-Ezeugo, a newly minted computer science graduate herself, was the first to give it a try. Lilian stood on Lagos road, a busy thoroughfare, with a placard of her own and, within hours, photos of her were doing rounds on social media.
— Ikem Samuel Daniel (@ikemsam) May 22, 2016
Like Malwandle, Lilian now has the world at her feet and last week she even managed to get a meeting with Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
— OnoBello.com (@OnoBello) May 27, 2016
PLS HELP! I NEED A JOB.
PLS RT IF YOU SEE THIS. pic.twitter.com/7WRxD32fXe
— NURAIN (@nurusquare_47) May 24, 2016
— careergong (@careergong) May 22, 2016
— #Naijapals.com (@Naijapals) May 25, 2016
Like Malwandle, Lilian now has the world at her feet
Not too happy with the trend
Believing it’s not practical in the long run and encouraging government inaction in creating jobs for the youth, many in Nigeria and South Africa are against the job seeker placard trend.
The concept of carrying placard saying "i need a job help me" shouldn't be encouraged anymore.
— KING OF EUROPE (@TheDelgadoWay) May 22, 2016
U can get a job today and get sacked tomorrow. What will U do? Carry placard again?
— سعيد (@gen2_alfa) June 1, 2016
Simply pointing out again how unworkable placard carrying is in the face of the sheer numbers of jobseekers… https://t.co/5IkUvX2uep
— Ladi Ekundayo (@ngtalenthub) May 22, 2016
So I've to carry a placard and put it up on social media before the govt know that I need a job….Issorai ????
— ☀Mr. Olisaemeka ™☀ (@OlisaOsega) May 28, 2016
Others, like Facebook user Patiswa Patty Qakaza, also think it won’t work for everyone and encouraged job seekers to try out their own approaches instead of aping what others are doing.
Plenty of support for the trend too
Which is not to say that the job seeker placard trend hasn’t received the endorsement of many South Africans and Nigerians, some of whom don’t understand the backlash against those who have taken job hunting to a whole new level.
But i think that for that woman to raise a placard for a job search is radical thinking and so highly unconventional and very apt!
— B! (@so_soyecious) May 22, 2016
Respect to that job placard girl's gut abeg, wish I was as bold.
— Liz. (@LilBetsyMusa) May 21, 2016
If holding placard will get you a job
If gofund.me will pay for tuition abroad
Go ahead, do it!
You gotta do what you gotta do
— Hindolo Kanyako (@Hindolo_Kanyako) May 22, 2016
Can't believe… Some people were actually criticising the job seeker with the placard? ?? Her method was whattt?? Unprofessional??
— Aritel (@letarie) May 21, 2016
In South Africa, unemployment now stands at 26.7 %
A reflection of hard economic times
It’s perhaps no surprise that the job seeker placard trend is catching on so fast in Africa’s two biggest economies. In South Africa, unemployment now stands at 26.7 %, and of the estimated 5 million people without jobs, 3.5 million of them are under 35. In Nigeria the situation is even more dire with youth unemployment/underemployment currently standing at 42.24 %. Some experts say the actual number is way north of that figure.
If these bleak statistics are any indication, the number of unemployed youth taking extraordinary measures to get jobs can only increase.