Getting a job in Kenya can seem like holding the clouds, impossible! Job seekers are constantly searching for job opportunities that are not even available. According to a survey, it takes a university graduate 5 years to get a job in Kenya (British funded study on unemployment and higher education).
It is no news that the unemployment rate in Kenya has increased with the coming of the pandemic. As many as 1.7 million Kenyans have lost their jobs (Kenyan National Bureau of Statistics)
What does this mean?
Alright before the pandemic, many people were still finding it difficult to find jobs in Kenya without having a “connection”. Well, the situation may have just be worsened adding 1.7 million people to the already long list of job seekers.
Since more people are searching for jobs, it means that the competition to land jobs is going to be tougher. Now, having a university degree does not equate to getting a job, as there are thousands of unemployed graduates roaming the street of Kenya.
A report released by the Kenyan Commission for Higher Education reveals that: “more than 50,000 students graduate annually from private and public universities in Kenya...”
This means that your university degree is not enough qualification to get a job in Kenya, you need to have more than a BSc to land a job in Kenya.
It is true that there are fewer jobs than the number of job seekers searching, but why do many Kenyans find it difficult to get the few available jobs?
Many Kenyans find it difficult to access the few available jobs because of the following reasons:
When the number of available jobs is small compared to the number of people searching for the job, it will be difficult for people to get these jobs. Since the ratio of jobs seekers to available jobs is not balanced, the fight to get these jobs will be intense.
When there is a lot of competition only the strongest people tend to survive, and unfortunately, many job seekers in Kenya do not have what it takes to be a strong competitor.
With the kind of schools that we have in Kenya, it is obvious that the standard of education does not equip citizens with the right skills and knowledge needed to land and retain jobs. A survey by the Inter-University Council for East Africa (IUCEA) reveals, “more than 50,000 students graduate annually from universities in Kenya… Only half of them are suitable for employment”
When the quality of education/certification is poor, it will make it difficult for graduates to thrive in the job market.
If you can’t prove to the recruiter that you are professional about what you do, then it will be difficult for you to land a job. Regardless of how good your CV is, if you cannot do exactly what you say you can do in your CV, then you may not make it past the interview stage.
For example, if you studied computer science and you cannot navigate a computer desktop then you would likely not be able to perform in a computer support or a coding role.
Employers in Kenya are looking for people that will come in and start getting the job done. Many employers cannot afford to pay you while you learn on the job. Employers in Kenya would rather hire someone that has work experience over someone with no experience. Hiring an experienced person will help the employer save money especially now that many businesses are struggling.
The few job candidates that have any form of experience (volunteering, internship) will likely land a job fast.
Getting a job in Kenya is almost impossible for people that do not have connections to people in top places. From the unemployment situation in Kenya, you would notice that the people that get access to the few jobs are people that have connections in government parastatals, multinational companies, and top private establishments. It is quite unfortunate that people that have the skills and qualifications may not land a job if they don’t have the right people in their network.
The unemployment situation in Kenya is indeed high, but the truth is that people are still landing jobs in Kenya. So how are people landing jobs in Kenya?
Landing a job in Kenya requires you to be smart. Being smart is having the right job search knowledge that will put you ahead of other job candidates in the competition for jobs.
These simple tips will ensure you get a job in Kenya.
The first step to getting a job in Kenya is discovering yourself. Before you start sending out those applications, take time to think and discover who you are. Take a moment to understand your strength and weaknesses.
If you look at online job boards, for example, you would notice that there are loads of job vacancies advertised. You can't apply for all the positions advertised because you obviously cannot perform all the task.
Discovering your interest helps you discover the career path that works for you and will help you know the kind of jobs that you should be applying for. So if you are just leaving school and yet to find out what you are good at, you can start by finding out your interest and matching it with the job that best fits you.
Discovering yourself may not be easy, but you have all the tools and assessment you need to discover yourself in this book: 72 hours to the job you love.
Discovering yourself will help you have a more tailored job search. Do you know that Introverts are more likely to perform better in roles that require skills like; attention to details, critical thinking, creativity etc. better than extroverts do? The truth about job-search is that the better you know yourself, the better chance you stand in getting a job with higher satisfaction.
Since you now know the kind of job that you are looking for, then it is time for you to create a perfect CV. A CV is not just a document you send out to companies when you are looking for a job. A CV is simply a branding tool that sells you to a prospective employer.
Imagine you want to sell a product to a client, won’t you make sure the item is in good shape so that the prospective buyer can find it attractive?
Yes, you would, the same thing applies to your CV and your prospective employers. So creating a perfect CV is what will attract you (your skills, abilities, and interest) to a prospective employer.
The big question here is; how do you create a perfect CV?
To write the perfect CV that will attract job interview invites, you need to understand what employers want to see on a CV. You don’t have to worry if you have not written a CV before, all you need to do is to follow the guideline and tips to creating a winning CV. If you find it challenging reading a guide to creating a perfect CV for the first time, then you can use this CV template (you can tweak the information in the template to suit you).
Write an Attention-Getting Cover Letter
Many job seekers don’t take cover letter writing seriously. The truth is that writing a cover letter is still very important especially if you want to land a job soon in Kenya's competitive job market.
Writing a good cover letter for the position that you are interested in sure takes you a step forward to landing a job that you would be proud of.
While a CV includes detailed information about your educational background and work experience, a cover letter is a more concise document that allows you to express your interest in the job that you are trying to get. Writing a cover letter allows you to prove that you are the best fit for the job.
Employers often look forward to hiring candidates that are passionate about their jobs, candidates that love what they do. Writing a cover letter when applying for a job helps you express this to your prospective employer.
Writing an attention-getting cover letter may not be easy, especially when you have not written a cover letter before. You don’t need to be scared, with a cover letter guide, you can write a cover letter that will attract the right employer.
Having the perfect CV and cover letter is great, but it is another thing to know how to search for jobs in the right places and how to effectively apply to these jobs. Sending out your applications involves more than clicking the apply button.
To make your job search more effective in Kenya, you must learn how to search and apply for jobs effectively. The way you search for jobs and the platform that you use to search for these jobs will determine how soon you will find a job.
While some online job platforms make it easy for you to search and apply for jobs, others may make the process even more stressful for you. Searching for jobs on online jobs platform like Myjobmag Kenya makes your search easier and faster. You can search for jobs based on your job field, industry, location, date, and education.
You can also personalize your job search by filtering the job based on your skills, experience, etc. This means that you would only see vacancies for the jobs that best suits you. You can also subscribe to MyJobMag Kenya push notification to ensure you get notified of job vacancies as soon as they are published.
Searching for a job is one thing applying is another. When you see a job that you are interested in, always remember to follow the application instructions.
Access the Hidden Job Market
According to research, 61% of jobs are not advertised. Many jobs in Kenya are not advertised as you need to have a connection with someone that can recommend you for a vacant position. Looking at the situation in the country, relying solely on advertised jobs will be a wrong job search move for you to make.
You may be wondering why there are hidden jobs in Kenya.
The truth is that not all companies love to advertise their open positions openly and go through the stress of shortlisting and recruiting job candidates. These kinds of companies rely on recommendations, and endorsement from top people in their network or industry to fill their vacant positions.
You can access these kinds of job even without having “connections”. Ask me how?
NETWORKING. If you want to access the hidden job market, then you need to start networking both online and offline. Sign-up on LinkedIn and start networking with professionals in your field/field of interest, attend career fairs, Meet-Ups, and seminars. Networking with professional allows you to be aware of vacant positions that are not advertised.
The advantage of accessing jobs in the hidden job market is that it allows you to apply for jobs that have not been advertised before. The level of competition in the hidden job market is relatively low which makes it easier for you to get a job in Kenya.
Another smart way to get a job in Kenya is to send your job application directly to employers without applying through any platform. You don’t have to go about looking for employers to send your CVs to. All you need to do is to search for companies that you would love to work for, search for their contact and send in your application.
Some people don’t consider this method useful, but you never can tell your skills and abilities might remind them of a position they need to fill in the company. Even if there are currently no vacancies for the position you are applying for, you may be contacted if an opportunity comes up in the future.
This method of application can be a shortcut for you to work in your dream company, instead of waiting for the company to advertise their position, which may not happen as soon as you want it. You can apply for jobs in your dream company by sending a cold email.
A quick tip: To get the best from this method, ensure you study the company well to understand where the company is struggling. Then, also see what you are bringing to the table to save the situation.
Creating a winning CV and good cover letter is awesome, but preparing well for the interview will take you a step further to landing the job of your dreams. Not preparing for a job interview at all can mar the whole process of your job search even after you must have created a good CV and cover letter.
The greatest job-search mistake any job seeker can make is not preparing well for the job interview. It must have taken you a lot of effort to get an interview invite: from creating an amazing CV to writing an impressive cover letter. Not preparing for a job interview at all can make you lose the opportunity you have been dreaming of for years.
Never attend a job interview unprepared; it is not wise to do that at all. If you are not sure about how you can prepare for a job interview check out these 100 job interview questions and answers to help you prepare better for your interview.
Instead of sitting and waiting for that dream job, you can take up internship and volunteering roles. Hardly does anyone achieve career growth immediately; there is usually a process to attaining career height.
There is no better way to prepare yourself for the world of work than getting firsthand experience. Internship and volunteering roles allow you to have one of your foot in the work environment, which allows you the time to grow and develop your career.
You remember what we said about employer wanting to hire candidates with work experience over those with no work experience. Taking an internship or volunteering position can help you get counted as a part of the candidates with work experience.
You can start by going through vacant jobs today then type “internship” in the search bar to filter only internship opportunities.
Even if it is almost every job seekers’ dream is to work for a big company or multinational, applying for a job in a small company may be a smart way to go. You know “the grass is not always greener on the other side, most times, the grass is greener when you water the ground that you are standing on at the moment”.
To beat the stiff competition for jobs in Kenya, you can consider applying to smaller companies where the competition is mild. It is easier for you to land a job in a start-up company even when you don’t have all the experience.
Working in a small company allows you to learn and grow on the job, it also exposes you to the core of the business, unlike bigger businesses. Once you can build your experience in a small company, you can either water the ground to move to a better position or simply move to a bigger one. The good thing is that you have gathered useful work experiences.
N.B: Most people look forward to being employed in big companies, so this reduces the congestion on smaller companies. Searching and applying for roles in small companies can make you get a job faster than you expect.
It is no news that the rate of unemployment in Kenya is high, but despite this fact, people are still getting jobs without stress. How are people getting jobs in Kenya?
The truth is that there are people that get jobs in Kenya without having top connections. Do you know how these kinds of people are? These are simply people that have what others don’t have (SKILLS). These job candidates have in-demand skills that employers are looking for to move their company forward.
These kinds of job candidates flip the job search switch sometimes. So instead of them to search for jobs, employers search for them with job vacancies. These job candidates have armed themselves with skills that employers can’t resist, you can do the same too. You can consider acquiring these in-demand skills:
In-demand soft skills
In-demand hard skills
There is a process as to the way almost everything in life is done; the same thing applies to job search. Searching for a job is a process and you have to get the process right to achieve your desired result.
No doubt, searching for a job can be challenging, but it is even frustrating for people that make job search mistakes because they don’t know better. If you keep doing the same thing for a long time and expect to get a result, then you must be joking.
Albert Einstein said in one of his popular quotes; “the measure of intelligence is the ability to change”. So if you want to take the smart route in your job search journey, then you should be willing and open to change and learn new things.
There are different mistakes that Kenyans make when searching for a job that eventually prevents them from landing their dream jobs even when they are qualified for the job. Let us look at some of these mistakes:
Not having a career plan/focus
One of the mistakes that many job seekers in Kenya make is not discovering their career interest before searching and applying for jobs. Many job candidates apply to jobs that they are not qualified for and expect to get it.
Research has revealed that recruiters spend 6 seconds on a CV. So once a recruiter can see that you are not qualified for the job as soon as they look at your CV, then rest assured that you are not getting the job.
You see why it makes no sense to keep applying to any job you see online. You need to discover the kind of jobs that you should be applying for to have a focused job search.
Not having a job search plan
Searching for a job is a job on its own, so you have to be prepared to achieve the result you want. Planning your job search is not limited to having a good CV, cover letter or even preparing for your interview.
Planning your job search starts with keeping your search organized. Keeping records like the names of the companies you are applying for, the link to the jobs you have applied for (this will help you track your applications), the type of CV you are using for each job, the interview invites that you have attended, etc.
It is these seemingly little details that ensure you don’t make mistakes like:
Planning your job search will help you land a job with little or no stress.
When it comes to getting a job, you need to be smart to tap into opportunities. Job opportunities are not just the ones you see online on job boards, the job you are looking for may just be very close to you.
Just like we said earlier, networking allows you to access the hidden job market. So if you are job hunting you should not neglect networking with professionals in your field.
You should always be open to networking even with family members and friends. Talk about your career to anyone that cares to listen when you have the opportunity to, you never know who has the opportunity you have been looking for.
If you are looking to get a corporate job, then you have to be professional. Employers don’t want to work with someone that trivializes things. When you are networking with professional on LinkedIn, you have to be professional or else you won’t get the right response.
Asides from your conversation, you should also be professional when sending your emails. Avoid using emails like email@example.com, always make sure your email address is professional as well as the content of the email.
Even if it could be quite challenging to find jobs in Kenya, there are still some places that makes job search easy. Although many websites post jobs in Kenya, but there are only a few places that we can recommend to you because of the high quality of jobs you can find there.
Have you ever considered your location when job hunting in Kenya? While some employers don’t care about a candidate’s location, others prefer to hire someone that lives close to the office.
You should always consider your location when searching for a job because some job roles are more available in some provinces than others are.
See most common jobs by provinces in Kenya
If you are looking forward to landing a job in a big company with a good compensation package, benefits, HMO, paid leave, etc. While some companies are not great places to work, these companies are recognized as one of the best places to work by other people reviews on websites like mysalaryscale.com.
Quick note: There are many great companies to work for in Kenya, but these are just a few from the long list).
If you are looking at doing a job that will allow you to earn well, then it means you have to target the highest paying careers in Kenya. These are the top 20 highest paying companies in Kenya:
Getting a job in Kenya will be less challenging if you follow the tips we mentioned above. Knowing the kind of job you want to do and equipping yourself to function in that job is what is important.
Are you experiencing a unique challenge with your job search? Let us know in the comment box below. We will be glad to respond to your questions.