• The search for a better opportunity challenged me to research and implement a strategic approach to my job applications.
• I had to step up and learn what companies want.
The professional landscape has changed dramatically, and we have to adjust, no doubt. Often, it feels like looking for a job is a job itself; spotting quality opportunities, calling family to remind them you are looking for work,, and adjusting your CV to job descriptions to increase your chances of getting a job.
The marketplace is competitive and unemployment is still a major challenge in Kenya. This means today’s job seekers must be strategic in their approach and be willing to do the work of finding work.
According to Vision 2030, it is estimated there will be over 600,000 jobs created in different sectors in the country. This, coupled with the shift in what the HR managers are looking for, shows that there is and will continue to be an increased demand for the right talent. The World Economic Forum report on Future Of Jobs 2020, on its part, reported that by 2025, a whopping 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour between humans, machines, and algorithms.
What we must remember is that people are an organisation’s greatest resource. As someone said, businesses bet on people,not strategies. This means there is hope for today’s job seekers, but they must position themselves accordingly.
In my experience, the search for a better opportunity challenged me to research and implement a strategic approach to my job applications. I had to step up and learn what companies want and I had to rework every single application almost every day just to get a potential employer’s attention.
In my work in the recruitment space, I have realised that companies are looking for skilled individuals who stand out from their peers and at the same time fit into their culture. They want capable and experienced individuals who are innovative and grasp the demands of their industry.
It starts with the application
You need to get it right. Today’s HR managers are busy and finding22 the right talent has to be as easy, efficient, and fast as possible because of the multiple tasks that come with people management. With advances in technology, the recruitment process is less tedious and marries technology and HR expertise to get businesses the right fit.
Additionally, the recruitment platforms have also increased because of the advancement of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that help recruiters filter quality candidates and find the best candidates.
To navigate this, jobseekers must:
- Take time to incorporate relevant keywords in their CVs
- Adjust your application for each job; don’t send a generic resume
- Keep it simple; use simple bullet points where necessary, don’t complicate it.
Next, think about the entire application process. An expert recently highlighted that there is a mix of technology and the human touch in recruitment today and those searching for employment must be aware of this. This simply means the job search starts with an online application; thereafter, if successful, you will interact with hiring managers and clearly articulate your skills and experience.
While you build on your tech abilities and understand how to make the most of online jobs sites and handle virtual interviews, practice on how to answer interview questions with finesse; or using the STAR method for behavioural questions:
Situation: Set the scene and give the necessary details of your example.
Task: Describe what your responsibility was in that situation.
Action: Explain exactly what steps you took to address it.
Result: Share what outcomes your actions achieved.
Another thing that many job seekers grapple with is lack of feedback from recruitment sites and employers. It makes them feel ghosted and dampens their job search. It is important to appreciate that online job sites advertise roles while employers make the final decision on which candidates they want to hire. Of course, platforms like BrighterMonday for instance, have diverse services they offer where they can sometimes go beyond just advertising, and expand into headhunting as per the employer’s expectation, but the tactics still apply.
The job sites on their part are continually incorporating AI and creating an option for employers to automatically give all the candidates interested in a role relevant feedback, whether they are successful or not. This way, HR managers who are overwhelmed but desire to give feedback can do it with ease.
What does this mean for the jobseeker? It means they should be tactful in studying job descriptions and applying for roles they qualify for. I have been a victim, like many, of applying for numerous roles at once whether I was qualified or not, and hoping somehow, I will get picked for a role. But this does not work. Online sites are now structuring their dashboards to limit seekers to apply only for relevant positions, making it a more efficient process for both the recruiter and the jobseeker.
Another approach is being open-minded and ready to start one’s career or gain relevant experience in a start-up or growing company. These workspaces push you to go beyond your limit and gain additional skills that make you more marketable. Statistics show that SMEs employ more than 80% of the working population in Kenya and play a major role in growing the country’s economy.
Lastly, we must remember that constant upskilling is a requisite for anyone who wants to stay relevant and employable. One of the major issues is the global shift of the kind of skills required in the workplace for this group. These are softer elements that aren’t theory-driven but character-driven, critical in identifying the right talent for the right workplace culture.
According to BrighterMonday’s impact of Covid-19 on the jobs report released last year, some of the trending soft skills include; Adaptability & Agility, Emotional Intelligence, Growth Mindset, Creativity & Innovation, and Critical Thinking. This means young professionals looking to join the job market require training in soft skills as it increases their chances of getting a job.
Of course, general soft skills such as communication, time management, and a great attitude make a jobseeker attractive to the employer, and incorporating situations you have exercised these skills in your job application will give you an edge.
As I close, remember to regularly list your achievements on your CV will ease the application process and level up your career. Moreover, positioning yourself on LinkedIn by posting relevant content in your field, celebrating the accomplishments of your connections, and reading up on career advice will give you the confidence you need to get hired.
As you put this into practice, keep the faith and don’t give up. You will excel and get your dream job.
Ivy Muigai is a Communications Specialist and a member of WomenWork who is passionate about communication, digital media, and HR matters. She appreciates the power of storytelling and continues to learn and grow in it every day. Feel free to reach out to me through email on [email protected]