Job hunting amid the pandemic, what to do
By Njeri Maina
With the continued Covid-19 lockdown measures, local industries continue to hurt with some announcing further restructuring measures.
These measures will leave even more people unemployed. With last year’s retrenchment casualties numbering over over a million, one wonders just how big this number can balloon to.
With the fourth wave of Covid-19 touted to be looming, the prevention measures are bound to stay, with the economic situation projected to get worse or stay as it is, before it gets better.
Many Kenyans are complaining of how hard it is to get new jobs, with some claiming that their industries have been rendered defunct while others say that companies are no longer hiring as they try to keep budgets low. But is it all doom and gloom for job seekers?
“The outlook may seem bad, but it is not as bad as people project. Realistically, if there were no jobs, recruiters and job board sites would not have jobs posted almost on the daily.
Jobs are always there, and companies will never stop hiring. The first thing jobseekers need to be aware of is that our market is competitive with a large pool of competent, skilled and qualified professionals.
Therefore, very thin margins of competitive advantage are applied in selecting candidates.
It, therefore, behooves the jobseeker to be at the top of their game,” advises Hillary Chanzu, a recruitment consultant with Brighter Monday.
Secondly, expand your job market reach. “Majority of jobseekers usually tie their job prospects within local boundaries, which could be a narrow pool to secure employment. We forget that jobs are advertised globally.
We have companies which export and import talent across continents. I advise jobseekers to open their job hunting scopes.
There are people still hiring, but you have to keep a positive attitude for you to be able to spot new opportunities,” he adds
Chanzu insists that one has to keep applying for jobs if they are to stand a chance to get a new one, as without applying, the no jobs mantra will be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
He emphasises on the importance of staying abreast of the industry one is interested in and the changes that may be effected even as one is unemployed.
This information is what will help them restructure their Curriculum Vitaes as well as get any additional skills that may facilitate re-entry into the industry.
Getting additional skills while job seeking is one way to gainfully use the lull time.
Roll with the punches
Lavender Atieno, a customer support agent who landed a job through a recruitment agency completely agrees with Hillary. She talks of the importance of being resilient and putting yourself out there even when one is hit with regret letters.
“Job hunting can be hard. I remember waking up and applying for jobs every single day for almost a year.
I went to over 10 interviews before I landed the job I have now. Thing is, the job market here is pretty competitive, with almost everyone having a degree and a master’s degree as well.
It means that you have to package yourself well to stand out and keep rolling with the punches even when you feel demoralised.
Signing up with a recruiter job site can be one way of cutting the job application time in half, as once you upload your resume, they prompt you when jobs are a match and there is not much you need to do after other than maybe craft a simple cover letter.
Brighter Monday really helped me in this regard,” the English and Literature degree holder explains.
She further reiterates the importance of staying connected with industry players, and keeping on applying for jobs even while working on expanding one’s networks.
While physical meet ups have reduced drastically due to Covid-19 and the associated preventative measures, one can still build strong networks online, Hillary posits.
The adage that your network is your net worth still applies today. Hillary, however, warns jobseekers to be careful as there are many opportunists willing to capitalise on jobseekers’ angst.
As for those looking to move companies or for career development, Hillary talks of the importance of planning, and having an exit strategy complete with a new job before jumping ship.
He talks of the importance of leaving well and handing over well even when one has gotten a new job as the corporate world is tiny and punitive to even the tiniest misconduct.
He talks of the importance of having mentors and coaches to help shape one’s profession and steer them to where they want to be.
Lavender concurs. “Mentorship is such a profound aspect in career development, but it is thoroughly underrated.
If I was mentored early enough, it probably wouldn’t have taken me this long to realise that my field of passion is Public Relations.
I took so many detours only to realise that time was ticking and I had to start afresh to become a certified Public Relations professional.
Do not be like me. Whether employed or unemployed, get that mentor and start working towards your best professional self,” she says in ending.