College graduates leave school with an eagerness for the career they want to build. However, when they start looking for employment in the ‘real world’, oftentimes things don’t go as planned.
A survey by CPS International, a market research firm, released in May 2020, indicated that nearly half of Kenyan employers were dissatisfied with the level of skills that university/college leavers have when joining the job market.
What that meant was that while millions of students graduate every year, their qualifications alone are not a guarantee of getting a job as employers opt for more than just papers. The study aimed to assess the employability of Kenya’s graduates.
Professor Mantz Yorke, in his research on employability in higher education, he defines employability as a set of achievements – skills, understandings, and personal attributes – that makes graduates more likely to gain employment and be successful in their chosen occupations, which benefits themselves, the workforce, the community and the economy.”
The lead researcher at CPS International, Professor Herman Manyora, said, “It’s not an easy space for graduates. The demand for suitability and employability is rising, chasing fewer and fewer job opportunities.”
Before you embark on your job search, or when your job hunt stagnates, here are a few things you can learn from highly effective job seekers.
One of the most common things job seekers tend to overlook throughout their job search is their network. Networking is more than simply connecting with people and more about being intentional and strategic about who you are connecting with.
With diverse ways of connecting such as LinkedIn, networking doesn’t have to be stressful or hard to do. Other ways you can network include attending seminars, networking camps/programs, social meetups etc. with likeminded people or professionals in your field of study.
If you're looking for a new job, networking can go a long way. Reach out to people. Make an effort to build connections with people who can help you find the career you’re looking for. When it comes to landing a job, sometimes it really does come down to who you know.
So, Network! Network! Network!
If you use one standard resume and one basic cover letter for every job application, you’re missing an opportunity to really sell yourself. Employers want to hear how you can meet their specific needs, so you should take the time to modify or personalize your resume and cover letter accordingly.
Make sure that you are able to complement the keywords found in the job description and demonstrate your knowledge about the company. This shows a hiring manager that you took the time to read through the posting and aren’t just applying to positions in bulk.
Yes, you are a brand. When we hear about brands we picture Apple, Rihanna, Beyonce and many others who seem to have ‘made’ it in life. But that’s not the case. A brand is what makes something or someone to be distinguished from the rest.
Your personal brand includes everything from how you carefully organize yourself, how you present yourself in your resume and cover letter, to how you have built a robust and engaging profile either on LinkedIn or other social media sites.
An effective job seeker makes it easy for their potential employers to learn about their skill set and qualifications before the first interview is even scheduled.
Learning never really ends. You can take time to upgrade your skills or acquire new ones. The personal investment you make in upskilling and reskilling yourself can provide you with essential skills that many employers are looking for.
Although there are skills that come up as you progress through employment known as transferable skills, - which are essential in every field - if your industry necessitates a specific skill or knowledge base, make sure you pursue that training so that you can stay current and competitive.
Effective job seekers continually refine and add to their skill sets, so they are always ready for the next opportunity. Some of the employability skills in demand include: positive attitude, communication, teamwork, self-management, willingness to learn, problems solving, decision making, diligence and resilience just to mention but a few.
Taking your time to embark on a job search can be draining a lot but if you want to know whether you are making progress or not, you’d consider tracking your efforts. This feels like a lot of work, but it is a great way to assess and reassess your progress.
Make a point of tracking your efforts to ensure that you don’t miss any application deadlines and to also know when and how to make a follow-up after applying for multiple jobs. If you can look back and identify which actions yielded fruits or good results, which ones need to be dropped and which should be improved on, then you will be able to know how you can package yourself better.
Improving your communication skills can lead to more meaningful relationships, understanding, career success and productivity. Being able to communicate efficiently in the workplace ensures you understand your team members and their goals. It also can allow you to express your professional needs and emotions.
Most employers often prefer candidates who are skilled communicators. A good communicator often has characteristics that allows them to use written, verbal, and nonverbal communication effectively. Good communicators are good listeners, they are concise, empathetic, confident, friendly, observant, appreciative, organized, sincere and respectful et cetera.
Knowing what communicative skills to list in your resume, cover letter and job interview may help you gain an advantage in the application process.
The most effective job seekers know that looking for new employment takes time, effort, and resilience. Understand that it is a process.
You can focus on the daily tasks of seeking work, so much that you get lost in all that hussle. Stay as positive as you can and try not to allow it to affect your mental well being. It will help you move forward when setbacks arise.
It can be discouraging if you haven't been successful to land a job after months and months of job hunting. Always remember that you are not alone. Effective job seekers maintain enthusiasm throughout their interviews, they are patient as they await responses, and remain diligent in their job search.
Don’t allow a few setbacks to prevent you from getting the job you deserve!
Whether you are just entering the job market or you are a seasoned professional looking to take up the next level on the corporate ladder you may employ different strategies to find your next job. While every job seeker is different, most successful job seekers follow a handful of best practices to ensure their search is effective and ultimately leads to a job offer.
Remember, the right job is out there, and you can find it. By developing, refining, and committing to these habits, you’ll become a highly effective job seeker, able to land the position and build your career.
All the best!