The hardest part about trying to get a job in Jamaica, is getting it. By that I mean, even though it might be hard to find one, actually getting it is the hardest part.
You know that feeling of relief when you see a decent job posting? Yeah… over 100 other people saw the same posting and felt the exact same feeling.
Getting a job in Jamaica is literally an extreme sport. You do so much preparation, to not even get a response to your application email. The local job market is ridiculous and might make you give up on trying to get a job in the first place. But there’s hope. So let’s hang on to it.
I’m not just going to rant about what’s wrong, but I’ll share some tips on how you make the best out of the worst. There are three main job hunting woes. So, I’ll talk about those and help you navigate them.
You lack the experience you need to get a job
As young people, we always say “how can we get a job without experience, if we can’t get a job to get the experience”. It’s absolutely crazy the level of experience required, especially for entry-level positions.
Many young people are fresh out of school, whether it be high school or university. Looking at a job requiring five years’ experience makes you scratch your head. Like, I was in school, mister. Where should I get this “work experience” from?
It’s especially frustrating to hear you can’t get a job after spending years in a degree program. Spending time and money studying to get a job, only to hear you don’t have enough ‘experience’ to get the job, is insane. I spent my entire life working towards this. What do you mean I need three years’ experience? I just spent three years in college.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, let’s talk about what we can do.
Find yourself an Internship
Internships are a great way to get experience on your resume. You get the experience you need on paper. Plus, you’ll actually learn things and get tips on how to maneuver your potential work environment.
Internships can also be a great segue into a permanent full-time position. They show the companies you’re applying to what you can do and how you operate. And if they like what they see, you might just have first dibs on any permanent positions that open up.
Make the most of the internship. Show them why they can’t let you go. Let them know you can be more than an intern. If you don’t want the permanent spot, then take your experience and run.
Learn how to sell Yourself
This tends to be a long shot, but it has worked.
You may not have the five years’ experience they need, but you have 2 and you’re willing to learn. Convince hiring managers you’re a fast-paced learner and you aren’t afraid of a challenge. Sell your ability to grow and develop.
Hiring Managers know eager beavers work harder than seasoned workers. They want hungry people that have something to prove. Show them you aren’t complacent and aren’t looking to be too comfortable. Sell yourself and give personal experiences. Show them that five years on paper isn’t as valuable as the hard worker you’re putting in front of them. You might just change their minds about how they approach future roles.
There aren’t enough opportunities in your field
Another big problem is that the jobs in abundance are never what you’re looking for.
You spend years studying for a specific field and the market is completely saturated. So, now you’re wondering, on graduation day, if you choose the right programme. The lack of opportunities makes it difficult for you to do the jobs you would excel in.
Being forced to take up jobs you didn’t study for or know nothing about isn’t fun. It hinders your development and throws your resume off balance. So, the next time you apply for a dental hygienist role, your hiring manager will see you did one year at a BPO. How about that for experience? Let’s counteract this problem.
Make your own opportunities
The digital age has offered many unemployed persons a place to employ themselves. Being your own boss is one way to counteract the lack of opportunities in our job market.
Of course, you need money to start, so do the jobs you can afford to get. Save as much as you can and start your own business. So if you’re a career dental hygienist, work at your BPO. Try to save to buy some tools you need to start your own business.
Start as small as you can. Offer your services to your friends. Get the word out. Social media is the new entrepreneur hub. Get yourself out there and do your best.
Freelancing is another great way to keep yourself occupied with work.
Many job markets aren’t prepared to hire professionals full time. So they hire professionals when they need them. Take advantage of this and offer your services to multiple companies. Freelancers can dictate their rates, so you can put your own value on your labour. You also have the option of online freelancing platforms like Fiverr and Upwork. Get jobs from all over the world. This gives you the freedom to control your workload and compensation. It’s not easy when you start, but it does get better.
You Don’t Know Your Worth
Many Jamaican professionals are criminally underpaid. Employers put little value on the labour their employees provide.
Many Jamaicans earn less than half of what our North American counterparts make, partly because as Jamaicans we aren’t sure of what we should be earning. We sometimes settle for what they offer us because of the lack of other opportunities.
Another reason is that we’re sometimes complacent. The mere fact that we can pay our bills and eat food with a bit of money left over is enough for some. So, we become used to what little we earn. Let’s try to fix that.
Get to Know Your worth
Do your research. If you aren’t sure what you should get paid, look it up or ask a friend. Try not to readily accept jobs that underpay you as a starting salary. Try to negotiate.
If you know you won’t be able to live comfortably with your salary, don’t do it. If you won’t be able to pay rent and all your other expenses, it’s not worth it. Let employers know this won’t work for you and ask if there is space in their budget for negotiation. There usually is.
Do something on the side
Not everyone has the luxury of turning jobs down because they aren’t satisfied with what they would earn. So, if you can’t turn the job down, accept it and try to use what you can to make more money. Open a business, use your skills to your advantage. Do whatever you can to change your circumstances. Do what you can until you find another, better job. Or maybe your business will take off. Who knows?
Job hunting can really demotivate you. So, do the best you can. Things won’t always go your way, but make the best of your circumstances and opportunities.