By Perminus Wainaina
What does it take to be shortlisted for a job? This is a common question with Kenyan job seekers. Reason being, many apply for jobs and they don’t get to hear from potential employers. With the frustration, many job seekers have come to question job adverts. Actually, some don’t believe they are genuine.
I have experienced both sides. I was once a job seeker, and now, I assist professionals like you get jobs. I also interact with candidates and employers on a daily basis. Through my experience I can give my objective analysis on this issue and hopefully make you understand what you are doing wrong and consequently, better your chances of getting that elusive interview.
My advice is applicable across all professions, industry and experience level.
Are you applying for the right jobs? From today base your job applications on the quality and not quantity. Employers and employees think differently when it comes to job adverts. An employer will be specific when it comes to duties, industry, salary and sometimes location of the job holder. Therefore make a point of understanding what an advertiser is looking for. And don’t forget in most cases they want to hire only one person.
On the other hand, a candidate would like to maximize on getting as many interviews as possible. While the employer is looking for ‘that’ one candidate a job seeker is targeting as many jobs as possible to improve the chances of landing an interview and subsequently a job. What happens then is many candidates apply for jobs that they ‘think’ they fit as opposed to those they truly qualify.
Next time you see a job advert, don’t be in a rush to apply. Take some thirty minutes or so to evaluate whether you truly meet the education level, skills, and experience required. Be 100% candid with yourself. While there’s no perfect candidate and a new job should offer you a challenge, there’s no need to apply for a job where you don’t meet 80% of the requirements.
Only make quality applications. And an application is quality when you are sure you can deliver on the job. But I can do the job given some training is one of the response I get from candidates. Unless an advert has such a promise there’s no need to assume. Ask any HR person and they will confirm that over 70% of job applications don’t match the job. Do you want to be in the majority who apply for any job or the 30% who only apply for positions that suit them?
Which is better? Applying for ten jobs everyday but no response or making five applications in a month with the potential to yield an interview.
When You Apply Matters. It makes a lot of difference when you apply for a job. From experience, whenever an advert goes out, employers and recruiter’s start short listing immediately people start applying. Candidates normally imagine that short listing starts after the closing date. Internet has changed things. Few firms wait for the closing date. What this means is that if you are applying a job five or seven days after the advert there’s a high chance you might miss on the interview invite because the advertiser has already gotten enough candidates.
Assume you are looking to hire an engineer and from the first 100 applications, 30 candidates meet your requirements. Since you are only looking to hire one, you already have enough and might not proceed to review the next 1,500 applications. The reality on the ground is that employers and recruiters want the right candidate at the shortest time possible. My advice, start applying for jobs as soon as you get them.
However, you shouldn’t panic and fail to apply for a job even if it’s near the closing date. Maybe the previous 900 applicants are the 70% that don’t qualify. Applying early simply means that you are maximizing on the chances of getting to the next stage. It is not any different from waking up early. You have the choice of getting out of the house before 6am and getting to the office in 30mins or you could leave the house at 7am and be in traffic for 2 hours.
Your CV. I have done many articles on CV writing but I still see many people making mistakes on this crucial document. Unless you are a good friend whom I have interacted with for a long time and I therefore know your skills, strengths, and weakness all the other applications you make, you will be reviewed by a total stranger who will judge you solely based on your CV. Don’t you think you need to make it easy for the person short listing?
Have a document that convinces an employer that you are the person suitable for the job. Have well outlined duties that correspond to what the advertiser is looking for. Detail achievements that will position you as an ideal candidate. Demonstrate value. When it comes to a CV, the top concern with any employer or recruiter is whether this person can do the job. It’s only when you convince them that you move to the next stage which is an interview.
When it comes to job searching, they are many things beyond your control. And some are bad and nasty.
For example someone might have bribed their way and they already have an offer letter for the same job that has been advertised. Some applicants might be related to the MD and thus better connected. Some things are not so bad like your competitors working in better companies or having better experience. All these are things you have no control over and it doesn’t help any bit to worry over things you can’t change.
However, the three mistakes I have highlighted are within your powers and you can change in your next application. Now you know. I wish you success in your next job application.
Perminus Wainaina is the Managing Partner & Head of Recruitment at Corporate Staffing Services Ltd. Email. Perminus@corporatestaffing.co.ke.