Good work ethic, a thick skin and a fighter attitude are all part of the South African package.
I was 12 years old and we had lived in the states for a little under a year. One sleepless night I wandered downstairs to grab a glass of water. To my surprise I saw my dad hunched over a set of construction plans. He looked up at me with red and tired eyes and asked me why I was awake. I told him I could not sleep. In turn, I asked: “Dad why are you looking at plans? That is not your job!” He said, “I know, but maybe someday it could be”.
Every South African I have come into contact with in the states has done incredibly well for themselves or is in the process of doing so. This is not a coincidence, South Africans by nature are hard workers. South Africans do what it takes to get the job done. South African workers are a major asset to any company.
Here are five reasons you should hire a South African:
South Africans abroad have had the experience of leaving their home country and having to adapt to their new surroundings. They are more than capable of fitting in with any reasonable work environment and will likely have a good time doing so. They immigrate with the notion of “when in Rome do as the Romans do” which really helps them seamlessly fit into their work environment.
My dad always told me “remember in life nobody owes you a thing”. South Africans do not blame other people for their shortcomings. For example, in the states, there is a slew of laws that protect workers from getting fired or even teachers from disciplining students. In South Africa there is less protection and so South Africans know from a young age that it’s their hard work that determines their ability to succeed. Good work ethic is part of their DNA.
South Africans tell it like it is, even if it means telling you what you don’t want to hear. This is extremely invaluable to any employer. If for some (good) reason they are unable to meet a deadline, they will be upfront and let you know about it before it affects the business. South Africans can also handle harsh and constructive criticism.
They are unlikely to get offended easily which makes them approachable to their employer. For those who immigrated during their teen years, they likely encountered some teasing about their accents or South African ways and learned to move past it. South Africans are tough cookies and don’t crumble easily.
South Africans are very personable and take a genuine interest in getting to know other people. As a result of this, they have very little difficulty in getting along with co-workers, clients and of course their direct management. Their accent, I unfortunately lost mine due to some mild teasing from my classmates, intrigues people and is a great conversation-starter. Accents help to make people memorable and, for that reason, are an asset when trying to network or build strategic partnerships.
The South Africans who chose to immigrate likely chose to do so because there is little opportunity for young South Africans in South Africa. If you give them the opportunity to work for you, they will not take it for granted and they will do whatever it takes to get the job done. It is highly unlikely that you will hear a South African utter the words: “That’s not my job”. They do what it takes even if it means stepping outside our comfort zone or scope of work.
Immigration is a hard process for any nationality. No matter where you come from it’s incredibly difficult to leave your home country and start over. So, I am biased in saying that South Africans make the best workers. The fact of the matter is, immigrants in general make the best workers because they are fighters who are fighting for a better life for themselves and, in most cases, for their families.
Every immigrant embodies the traits of tenacity, determination and positivity because immigration is not for the negative or faint-hearted. These traits are desirable to any employer.
My dad’s late nights studying plans paid off and both he and my mother worked extremely hard to get to where they are now and, in turn, their hard work allowed me to achieve an incredible life that I may not have had if I had stayed in South Africa.
I sit here typing as a newly American citizen and I realise that it has been 14 years since I left South Africa for America. In those 14 years I graduated from high school, obtained a BA in Journalism, became gainfully employed and took residence in gorgeous sunny Southern California with my boyfriend and Pomeranian. I was able to do all of those things because a small decking company in Las Vegas took a chance on an immigrant, my dad, and gave him and his family a chance to achieve the American dream.
If you are an employer and you happen to have stumbled upon this article, I implore you to take a chance and hire a South African or an immigrant over a native of your country. When you hire an immigrant, you are not only giving them a job, but you are also validating their tough journey to a better life.