By Selipha Kihagi
The Kenyan job market has been established as a tough one, and issues have come up time and again about the growing lack of employment among the youth. Then there is the issue of Kenyans looking for opportunities in countries such as Saudi Arabia, only to end up being mistreated and coming back home to start the job hunt a fresh.
So, how come Kenyans don’t look for opportunities with known companies close to home where they can build on their careers as they keep tabs on family and friends? Surprisingly, neighbouring countries such as Tanzania, Uganda and Sudan are turning to Kenya to find new employees.
We spoke to Gitau Munira, a Certified Public Accountant, who shared his experience on working in neighbouring Tanzania as a Kenyan national.
Here is what he had to say
4 years working as a Chief Accountant in Tanzania, how did that come about?
I was previously working as a an Accounts Officer at a top company here in Kenya when I came across the job advertisement through Corporate Staffing Services. I wanted to try something new and different and the idea of working in another country sounded pleasing at the time, so I applied for the position.
Proving satisfactory, I was shortlisted for an interview with Corporate Staffing and later for another interview with DPI Simba Ltd, the company I would later start working for.
What can you say about your application and interview process for the position? Was the fact that you are Kenyan a factor?
The fact that I am Kenyan did not come up, but I must have met their expectations because among the people who interviewed for the position, I was the one who got the job.
The interview was no different from other interviews, the only difference I could mention is I was vetted by a recruitment firm first before meeting the actual company. As long as you can prove your value for the position by demonstrating your qualifications, then your nationality is never really an issue. It is what you can do for the company that really matters.
So, how was the experience working in Tanzania? Did you have to conform to their way of life?
The environment was different at first, especially because I would have to get used to living in another country, but just like starting at a new organization I had to adapt to the new environment and new people.
I can say working there was an eye opener for me because I had the opportunity to expand my professional experience, meet new people, interact with different cultures and share my own culture with them. There were a few challenges here and there but nothing I couldn’t overcome.
Kenyans are quick to look for opportunities in the likes of Saudi Arabia & other far countries. Having found an opportunity in neighbouring Tanzania, what’s your take on this?
It’s really in bad taste that we have to see these unfortunate incidents where a Kenyan or an innocent worker is treated badly by their employer. This is common among those who go for domestic jobs without even doing a back ground check on their employers and deciding too quickly.
There are opportunities outside the country, yes, but before anyone embarks on following these opportunities it is important that they have their facts right. Collect background information on the employers and be quick to ask for a binding contract. Real and genuine companies will ensure that they address the necessary concerns.
Coming to family and work balance, did working far away have any impact?
Yes it did. There were times I got really lonely and wanted to come back because due to some factors I couldn’t get my family to join me in Tanzania. It is actually one of the reasons I have decided to come back home and grow my career here.
People looking to find opportunities in a different country should think about their family situation. Consider relocating with them or work out a plan so being away from them does not affect your performance at the job.
What is your advice to Kenyan job seekers wanting to try out opportunities outside the country but don’t know where to begin
Always be on the look out for top regional or international companies hiring in the country. Some companies will partner with local recruitment firms to source talent so when you follow a recruitment firm closely you get to see these opportunities, like it was my case with DPI Simba.
Genuine opportunities are there and if you have the will and desire to make out a good thing wherever you may be, all you will need is focus and confidence to try out these new horizons.
Gitau has recently stopped working for DPI Simba ltd, and is now back in the country to find a better and more lucrative opportunity where he can continue to grow and be close to his family. His former position in Tanzania has been filled by another Kenyan, who was also competitively sought by Corporate Staffing Services.
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Selipha is a Communication Officer at Corporate Staffing Services. If you have queries contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org