Thobeka Ndlovu is known in her community as the person to go to when looking for work. Having worked in human resources for nine years, she uses her experience and expertise to tackle the issue of unemployment in South Africa, one job seeker at a time.
Her Facebook group, Career Hot-Spot, is a free resource for the unemployed, inspired by Ndlovu’s desire to uplift and empower black graduates. “My passion is sharing my knowledge,” she says.
While interning in the HR department of the KwaZulu-Natal treasury in 2013, Ndlovu noticed a need for a go-between to link graduates and the sectors they hoped to find work in. “I realised that while they have the qualifications, a lot of the graduates from our black communities don’t know how to write CVs, how to dress or how to respond in interviews,” she says.
She decided to start using her degree in industrial psychology and her HR experience to guide young graduates through the job-seeking experience. She began offering to help unemployed people in her community by rewriting their CVs and creating profiles for them on job seeking websites.
Now, nine years on, Ndlovu has a host of success stories under her belt, from guiding uncertain matriculants to graduate from university to seeing her clients upskill their way into management positions. “My biggest gift is getting people to align with their passions,” she says.
Careers Hot-Spot, her Facebook group, is dedicated to connecting job seekers and relevant opportunities, sharing career tips and answering questions about employment. The group has more than14 000 members, and is accessed by people all over South Africa. It aims to “encourage youth education and black excellence”.
Thanks to her full-time job as an HR journalist, Ndlovu prides herself on being able to guide her Career Hot-Spot community on a meaningful and personal level. “When I coach people, it’s not from Google,” she says, “it’s based on practical experience that I’ve gained over the years.”
She says it has always been obvious that her career would revolve around helping other people. “I tell people that I didn’t fall into HR accidentally,” she says. “I was always going to be in HR or psychology. It just matches my personality.”
But the work she does runs deeper than just her altruistic nature; Ndlovu has a deeply personal reason for dedicating her time to finding opportunities for the unemployed. In 2013, her brother was jobless but keen to find work as a policeman. When Thobeka saw a job advert for traffic officers, she encouraged him to apply. Due to poor planning, too many people were invited to the initial selection process than the venue could handle, and her brother was trampled to death. “People were so desperate that they were pushing each other,” she says.
I lost my brother in the process of him trying to find a job in this country,” Thobeka reflects. “Now I strive to give back to my community, in remembrance of him, so no one finds themselves in the same situation.