In a sea of applicants, here’s how to stand out

With the level of unemployment in Kenya, you have probably applied for numerous jobs but aren’t getting any. 

Recently, one job listing on BrighterMonday for a Receptionist/Admin Assistant in Kenya on BrighterMonday attracted 2,417 applications, while another listing for call center agents and team leaders attracted 2,283 applicants.

The data was collected by ROAM Africa (Ringier One Africa Media), highlighting the current state of the jobs market in Africa.

The company also found that some people reported applying for more than 20 jobs a day for multiple months and only getting to the interview stage on a handful of occasions.

So how do you even stand a chance?

We talked to Emmanuel Mutuma, CEO of the online job site, BrighterMonday, about how to increase your chances of getting a job.

1. Learn how to use keywords for AI

Having a powerful profile in the era of technology makes all the difference. Employers are hiring differently and using technology to help them make objective hiring decisions. We are now using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other tools now, doing recruitment based on technology, so use key words to heighten your chances of being picked. We have an application tracking system that helps you get shortlisted.

We have a product called Best Match that shortlists 10 top profiles within seven days. So the employer can go in and find 2,000 applications but the system will tell the employer 10 profiles that meet the criteria as they had listed in the system, so they will review those first. Most employers don’t look at the rest.

 2. Get unique skills

Despite the average number of applicants per job listing being 200, with some roles getting thousands of applicants, sometimes none of them qualify. Technical roles like building and construction attract fewer applications. Jobs with other layers of mandatory requirements also have few applicants. I have seen us struggle to fill such roles, for instance where someone has to speak Portuguese for a particular job.

We have actually found ourselves going beyond our platform to look for these people. There is a very common challenge where employers are getting so many CVs but not getting the right fit because of the applicants’ inadequate skills. A large percentage of employers tell us they did not get the right match.

3. Specialise

What we are seeing in the future of the job market is that technical skills are being required more and more to conduct some roles. That level of specialisation. So when we are talking about IT, more technical skills would be for instance mobile development, PHP programming. In marketing, it is becoming more specific, like digital marketing, performance marketing, search engine optimisation expertise and so forth.

You are not only stopping at that marketing degree but you are actually taking other relevant courses to be in line with what is expected in the market. So think of how to stand out, become more competitive and position yourself better.

As a candidate, you really have to look at your personal development. That means that you are mapping out your career journey and at any given period saying that you are intentionally increasing certain skills so that you can position yourself better.

The goal is to stand out. The biggest challenge is that we are in a very competitive market. How will you stand out from everyone else who has also gone to school and is educated? How do you keep on improving your skillset?

4.  Tailor your CV for every role

One of the most common mistakes I see people making is applying for all and any jobs. It really locks you out. I will never hire just anyone in my organisation just because you applied. So applying for everything only wastes your time. You will disappoint yourself and lose hope.

The reason people do this is because they have a poor profile and have not tailored their CVs for any job. Don’t just go to the site and press apply. You need to have a powerful, tailored CV for every role you apply.

A CV is like a billboard. It talks to the employer and gets them interested in you. The CV gets you the interview because you are shortlisted based on your skills and what you say you have. The interview is the opportunity to sell yourself to get the job. If you have a powerful profile it gives you more chances to land the interview but only if you apply for the right jobs.

5. Offer your skills in other arenas

Offer yourself based on your skills. I have a relative who has done interior design in university. I introduced him to an architect, and he volunteered to help in a project. He offered to hand-hold the client and give them options.

Be on the lookout for unusual opportunities to volunteer because you really don’t know what comes out of that. You always have to practice what you studied and your specialisation and it could turn into something long-term for you.

 6. Take gigs

Take short term jobs. We are getting more into a gig economy. Rather than the full time jobs which are permanent and pensionable, you can work for multiple companies, brands and projects where you deliver on value.

It gives you a lot of experience, especially if you work with diverse industries and sectors. Look at the new trends, especially with online jobs. If you look at talent now, we have proven that you can actually hire someone who is not in Kenya and they will still be part of the workforce.

Like some of our tech team works from abroad. How can you serve an expanded global market even while still in Kenya? Look for digital ways in which you can deliver your service.

related News