Get your Foot in the Door

This blog post is written by guest author Theodorah Manjo, the owner of a popular Facebook jobseekers group called I Need Someone Who. 

The biggest error graduates or school-leavers make is thinking because they have a certain level of education, they are guaranteed or entitled to a first salary that will see you buying your first car in 3 months. 

This is not how life works; not in South Africa at least. 

I have been running a jobs group for the past 3 and a half years and the biggest outburst on the posts is “how can someone live on a R6000 salary?”. 

I am a 29-year-old who is working very hard just to make a MARKET-RELATED salary. Believe it or not, you are surrounded by good luck if that is what you take home without having to fight for it. 

Yes, we know life is hard and it’s expensive. But the biggest thing anyone can do right now is GET YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR. 

Bitter Pills

Nobody starts working on a R15k salary.

I don’t even think qualified doctors start there in South Africa, and if they do, well I should have focused better in chemistry and life science classes because I only touched that as a GROSS salary after 3 years of working. 

I had paid for about 2 and a half years of my studies after NSFAS dropped me. I paid for the rest through promotions and working in a book shop. I couldn’t even get a student loan with Edu-loan or a bank because my parents could not afford the interest.

I never had a laptop, I made use of the computer labs and stood in lines for HOURS just to check if I made it into my exam or type my assignments. I used to print out books’ worth of research, sit at home and write it all out. Then I would type it all out over a series of days, and that would be my first draft. 

I started working, after studying marketing, at a home-based company in Buccleuch. Granted I lived at home, but things weren’t smooth.

I was earning R1000 at this first job. 

R650 was for taxis ONLY. 

The R350 went to having lunch, or ’emergency money’ in case I didn’t get a taxi or bus because of strikes. I then worked at a bookshop making R800 a month (less than my first job). I walked to work, and was standing for 10 hours and had to walk home; sunshine or rain. Do you know what a sore heart is?

I eventually got a job in IT and made R4000. And still, there were days where walking was a reality because I still had to help out at home.

I still had to pay for textbooks, I needed to buy better shoes so I could walk better. The company moved to Midrand and transport increased to R2500.

The moral of this story is – I went from 1 extreme to the next, BUT I never complained or said ‘I have a marketing degree, I can’t be earning less than x amount.

Sacrifice, Sacrifice, Sacrifice

I went and bought a car on an R11 000 take-home salary. The car cost me R5000 with insurance. No petrol. No food. Hair not done. Haven’t helped at home. I’m sitting with loans. I was worse off with this car but I needed it so that I could apply for a better paying job. I had to sacrifice R3000 for driving lessons. 

Sometimes you may feel that jobs asking for a license is ridiculous, but MAKE THAT SACRIFICE and the job you will be able to apply for will give you R4000 more than before.

We need to start looking at things in The Long Term and not The Now. It took me a few years to realise this but nothing will ever get given to us without us meeting hope half-way.

You won’t get the job unless you apply. 

You won’t get that salary unless you meet the requirements. 

We need to start counting our blessings and making plans to get to where we want to. It doesn’t get easier; you just get stronger. 

Yes, I am a huge advocate for a healthy job environment by all means, but somewhere along the line you will have to compromise because you know after this storm, the sun will shine. We shouldn’t be afraid of wanting more money, we are not living in the 80s where working for a company for 20 years meant great things. 

Find a good job that works for you, learn, invest, and teach. 

When your season is over there, move. 

We are stuck in a time where recruiters reject CVs because you are a “job hopper”, but if they were honest with themselves, those that stay in one place for many years have not accumulated the amount of experience and practicality of someone who has had a taste of different places; eventually you will settle. 

May your journey be a fruitful one. 


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  1. wow just what i needed to hear in the situation that I am in right now thanks alot for the motivation.

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