By Perminus Wainaina
What is your dream job, and what is keeping you from getting it?
The Kenyan job market is full of professionals either trying to get a job, or looking to advance in their careers.
While multiple positions are advertised on job search platforms every day, it appears the number of professionals looking for opportunities outweigh the positions available. Whether you’ve just joined the job market as a fresh graduate, or you quit your job to look for a better one, or you were laid off due to redundancy, or maybe you’re trying to get back to the job market after a long break, the situation is still the same.
A couple of weeks back, I spoke with Rose, who has been unsuccessfully looking for a job for three years now.
Rose studied Bachelor of Science in Procurement and Logistics. After graduation, she went on a five-month job search journey without any luck.
She finally got a job with a logistics company. She gave the job her best, and the management noticed her efforts and promoted her to a supervisory role.
After two years, the company closed down due to financial issues and Rose was back on the unemployment track.
With her experience and achievements, she thought it would be easy to land another job.
“At first, I was eyeing supervisory and managerial roles. But after a while, I started applying for entry-level procurement jobs. Still no success.
I resulted to applying for any job I could find, I no longer cared about the field it was in… three years later, I am still unemployed.
What I’m I doing wrong, and how can I get a job?”
You too, may be in a similar situation –applying for jobs without any feedback from employers. While some factors are outside your control, there is still a lot you have to do with the success of your job search process.
Below, I have highlighted the top reasons that are hindering you from getting a job and the solutions to these problems.
1. You don’t have the required skills
The skills you possess help you execute the role effectively.
When you don’t have the skills needed, an employer will be hesitant to give you the job as it means they have to spend time and resources training you on these skills.
If you’re a fresh graduate, you may be shocked to learn that less than a third of graduates have the skills needed to excel in their careers.
If you have a few years of experience, this doesn’t exempt you. Consider there are advancements in your field, which demand you to keep updated on the skills required in your profession.
Before you make the next job application, first assess the skills needed in your profession. Focus on both technical and soft skills. Once you have identified these skills, look for effective ways to learn and practice them.
There are various avenues you can use to acquire the needed skills. For example, you can take up an online course, read relevant books, volunteer in a relevant space, or enroll for a short training. These avenues are effective as they are customized to grow your skills on a particular subject.
2. Your profession is no longer relevant
The job market is ever evolving. You may be applying for jobs yet your profession is either dying or dead.
To better understand this, think of traditional photography…
A few decades ago, photography was one of the in-demand professions. You often had to schedule an appointment with the photographer or try to fit in their busy schedules. With the advancement in technology, every mobile phone has a camera, and the demand for traditional photographers has considerably reduced.
There are, however, photographers who adapted to the market needs and were able to excel.
Is your profession still relevant in today’s job market? How about in the future, will your job still be important?
If there is reduced demand for your profession, what can you do about it? We can pick a page from the above example. There are photographers who invested in better equipment, improved on their photography skills, and became proactive in sourcing for clients.
If your profession is slowly dying, look at the suitable skills you need to stay relevant in today’s job market.
Digital marketing, for example, is one of the in-demand skills today. The demand is expected to rise in the future. Learning such a skill will keep you relevant in the market.
Look at the in-demand skills that are close to your profession and master them. This will help you stay relevant in the market. Most importantly, it’ll increase your chances of getting a job.
3. You don’t have a professional network
You’ve heard of the saying, ‘your network is your net worth.’
This saying holds true even during the job search process.
The reality on the ground is a significant portion of jobs are never advertised. They are usually filled through referrals and recommendations.
For instance, if there’s an opening in an organization, the employees are the first ones to know about it. In some cases, they are asked to recommend someone for the position. If you have professional networks, when a position opens up, they’ll notify you or recommend you for the position.
If you do not have a professional network, unfortunately, you may never know when an opportunity opens up.
Networking opportunities are great for forming a professional network. Research on the most relevant networking opportunities for you and start making connections. These professional connections will exponentially increase your job search success.
4. You’re applying for jobs the wrong way
While conversing with Rose, one of the striking things she talked about was how she was applying for every job.
While this may sound like a good idea, it could be costing you rather than helping you.
Think about it, if one day you make ten applications, you’ll likely send the same CV and cover letter to every company. As a result, you probably have one general CV.
Unfortunately for you, the employer is looking for a very specific candidate. And since your general application lacks the specific details the employer is looking for, your application won’t be considered. This means even though you are making multiple applications, the chances of being called for an interview are dim.
The solution to this is to improve the quality of your applications –yes, at the expense of the number of applications you make.
Before applying for a job, ensure your CV and cover letter clearly showcase you as the best candidate for the role. Review and adjust your CV to match the job you’re applying to.
When applying for jobs, go for quality over quantity.
At the end of the day, searching for a job can be a tedious and demoralizing task. If you have been applying for jobs without hearing back from employers, you need to take a back seat, review what you’re doing wrong, and make adjustments. Only in doing so will you better your chances of getting a job.
Where have you been going wrong when applying for jobs?
Perminus Wainaina is the C.E.O and Managing Partner at Corporate Staffing Services, a leading HR & Recruitment consultancy firm based in Westlands. Through personalized career coaching he assists mid-level and senior professionals get solutions to complex and challenging career issues that they are facing. Click here for more on career coaching.