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How employable are you?

Friday November 8 2019

Graduate

The number of Kenyans graduating from universities and technical colleges is not equal to the number of available job vacancies. PHOTO | FILE 

SIMON MBURU
By SIMON MBURU
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It is a fact that the number of Kenyans graduating from universities and technical colleges is not equal to the number of available job vacancies.

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Kenya has one of the highest unemployment rates in East Africa. This means that even if you hold a university degree and have all other qualifications required, you are not guaranteed of a job.

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Many who have struggled unsuccessfully to find jobs usually end up disappointed, bitter and frustrated. Inadvertently, they may start to think that undeserving individuals are being cherry picked and handed the few available jobs without merit.

Before you join this lot, you need to ask yourself one question: Are you employable?

Skills mismatch
Employers in Kenya have many times complained that many of the job applications they receive are from individuals who lack the required skills.

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A survey conducted by the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) in December 2017 showed that 70 per cent of employees who enter the job market at entry level require refresher courses before they can be productive at their respective workplaces.

For this, employers are usually forced to part with an average of sh20,000 per candidate to provide training to such employees.

In these tough economic times, not too many employers will be willing to spend money on training new employees. Most will prefer to headhunt those whose skills have been proven.

Therefore, to boost your skills, consider taking short online courses, attending training programmes that are tailor made for your profession, or being involved in volunteer work. Apart from technical knowledge and aptitude, you must also develop soft skills such as honesty and respect.

Experience v Achievements

You must know of someone who always keeps getting poached by rival companies and being handed lucrative positions, and another one who never seems to make any shortlist in the interviews he attends.

Often, those who always seem to impress employers have a track of tangible achievements listed on their resume.

Ken Munyua, a practitioner at People Centric, a human resource firm based in Nairobi, says that those who find difficulty impressing interviewers usually forget to blow their own trumpets, and focus only on proving that they have the right qualifications.

“Achievements come as a result of hard work, and they show the interviewers that the potential employee is an individual who always seeks to achieve their employers’ goals,” says Munyua.

Hawking the same CV

If you keep sending the same resume to hundreds of employers, you are telling employers that you are not worth their attention.

“By doing this, you are offering the same CV for tens of vacancies, some of which you are either overqualified of under qualified to apply.

This doesn’t sit well with most employers,” says Munyua. Note that nowadays, many employers prefer to recruit employees through Human Resource agencies.

Over qualification

In Kenya, job advertisements for positions such as supermarket cashiers and loaders have at times attracted thousands of university graduates.

Due to desperation, many have had to settle for positions that are way beneath their academic qualifications or skill set.

While it may be wise for you to take any available job while you search for a better option, settling for a job that is beneath your capabilities may work against you.

“If you stay in such a position for long, your self-esteem will be negatively affected,” says Scott Bellows, a leadership and entrepreneurship trainer and author. Another common result of such a scenario is low productivity among employees, because they are working in positions they are not passionate about.

Personal responsibility

How you take care of your responsibilities can be an indicator of how suitable you are for employment.

Liz Ryan, a human resource expert and the author of Reinvention Roadmap: Break the Rules to get the Job You Want and Career You Deserve, says that employers target people who handle their personal responsibilities just as well as they manage their career roles.

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