Working in South Africa: Mission impossible?

On August 14, 2015 / by Percy Mathwasa / Leave a comment

work visa

Many foreign nationals flock to South Africa because they believe it to be the land of milk and honey where business and work opportunities are limitless.

To the surprise of many it has turned out to be quite the opposite. First things first. Like in many other countries, foreign nationals wanting to work in South Africa need a work visa.

Sadly this is not the whole story. It has been said an employer needs to see a work visa to offer you a job yet the Department of Home Affairs stipulates that to get a work visa you need an employment contract.

A lot of foreign nationals remain unemployed or work for one of the many call centres which are sprinkled across South Africa’s economic hubs, Cape Town and Johannesburg. Many foreigners have difficulty securing employment, which is in line with their previous career path and future aspirations. Reasons for this include lack of knowledge about work visa options, not looking in the right places and not talking to the right people.

Possessing the right paperwork before attempting to join the South African job market is vital, because once the prospective employer learns you are a foreign national the first thing they want to know is that you are legible to live and work in the country (been there myself). In some cases companies might actually offer to secure a general work visa or a corporate work visa on your behalf. However, be aware that this means that you are legallly tied to work at this one company. If you are lucky enough to fit into one of the many critical skills categories and take it upon yourself to secure a critical skills work visa you will be more flexible. Having all your papers in order will assist in securing an opportunity with a decent income and protect you from being taken advantage of by ruthless employers.

This may sound cheesy, but possessing critical skills works as an advantage to most foreign nationals. Countries would give first preference to their own if it’s a common skill, which is fair. A good strategy is aiming to be the first person that is considered for an employment opportunity because of the critical or rare skill that you possess. Foreign nationals are concentrated in certain economic sectors e.g domestic work, food industry, construction where they are vulnerable to gross exploitation and victims of unfair labour practices but once you possess a rare or critical skill you may find yourself in a better space.

Securing employment in South Africa is about understanding the needs of the country and becoming street wise. This is best achieved by talking to people. South Africa has a lot of recruitment agencies, immigration agencies and web portals, researching on these will help secure the right agents to work with. Make use of the social media, expat networks and connect with the right people who will steer you in the right direction.

It is ideal to work with recruiters, who are knowledgable in interview etiquette and recruitment practices in South Africa and who are genuinely interested in your career path. It is rare to find a company that will handle your immigration requirements and help secure you the right job opportunity at the same time. Initiate is a specialist recruitment and immigration agency that focuses on securing the right work opportunities for people in their specialist fields across the board, while assisting throughout the entire visa application process.

Initiate has specialised multi-lingual recruitment agents who focus on recruitment of foreign language speakers through their sister company Language Recruiters.

The following two tabs change content below.
Percy Mathwasa
Percy is originally from Zimbabwe and working as a goal-orientated Financial Recruitment Consultant for Initiate International. Percy has 6 years recruitment exposure in Financial Services, focusing on Investment Banks, Asset Management, Corporate Finance, Private and Venture Capital.
Percy Mathwasa

Latest posts by Percy Mathwasa (see all)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *