Lessons from Job Hunting

Published on 11th April 2006

Sara Kinywa is a 24 year old Kenyan, born and brought up in the Rift- valley province. She is the first born in a family of four.  She schooled at Tetu Girls Primary School and later joined Kijabe Girls Secondary School.  After successfully completing her O level, she joined Catholic University of Eastern Africa and obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. She has been out in search of a job since then. Sarah shared the ups and downs of a job seeker with the African Executive.

Excerpts:

Q. Other than job seeking, what have you been doing? 

A. After my graduation I realized that I could not spend all time seeking for a job. I therefore enrolled for International Computer Driving Licence (ICDL) part time classes at the Institute of Advanced Technology (I.A.T)

Q.  Tell us about the whole experience 

A. Job seeking has taught me to be patient and tolerant. It has involved heavy spending and sacrificing some essential needs in my life. Photocopying of the resume, buying envelopes and surfing appears very cheap but for someone who is jobless, it’s very expensive.  

Some employers are not time conscious.  They ask one to attend an interview at 0930hrs but keep him waiting up to 1400hrs. By the time one faces the panel she is so tired, worn-out, tense and hungry.  It is very frustrating to go through an interview and fail to receive any feedback.

In some offices one is not allowed to see the Human Resource Manager. One is told to leave the resume and cover letter at the gate or reception. How does one know if the resume got to the relevant person? It is devastating when one makes a follow up only to learn that the relevant officer is not aware of it.

I receive a lot of empty promises from prospective employers, friends and relatives who avoid me whenever I wish to see them. It were better if they made no promises at all. My parents have however supported me financially and spiritually. They keep encouraging me. 

Q. I believe you have attended several interviews, what has been your experience?

A. Through interviews I have gained confidence. I did not know what to expect when I first attended an interview. I was nervous all through. But today, I am a confident since I have an idea of what the employers look for. What I hate most is the question, “Do you have any experience?” How do they expect me to gain experience if they do not give me an opportunity to work in their organization, yet they know I am a fresh graduate? This is very irritating! 

Q. What do you think is the way forward? 

A. The government, private investors and higher institutions of learning should work hand in hand.  The government should have the statistics of the number of graduates each year and see how they can integrate them.  Private investors should also be willing to take up graduates. PriceWaterhouseCoopers for example, recruits forth year students from various universities each year. Strathmore University on the other hand networks its students with employers. It even employs its own students. Organizations should also offer internship opportunities, since through them one gains experience.

I propose that the government gives graduates loans so that they can invest. This will really help as they will absorb other graduates in their businesses. After sometime, the investors should repay the loans with interest so that this can again help others. But for this to be successful, we really need a government that is transparent and accountable to the people.

Q. Describe the current situation of unemployment in Kenya. 

A. It is very bad. From my class only less than twenty people are employed. Some are looking for funds to invest, while others have opted to pursue studies further. Soon, we shall be having jobless Professors with no experience at all, because people are opting to further their education instead of staying home idle.

Other than that, some organizations operate on “Do you know anybody basis?” They go through the normal formalities of advertising, inviting people for interviews and conducting the interview process. But as much as one qualifies, he doesn’t get the job since he does not know anybody.

Q. Do you think the rise of insecurity has something to do with unemployment? 

A. Yes. An idle mind is the devils workshop. I need food, clothes, shelter, medical care among others. Do not forget some graduates have families to take care of and all these needs are very necessary. What do you think will be the option? Car jackings, robberies and drug trafficking among others. They have to survive anyway.

Q. What is your ambition? 

A. I intend to start a printing firm though there are many challenges. Am already working on that because I believe that where there is a will there is a way. I want to offer employment opportunities too. I have been jobless and I know what it means.

Q. Any message for the unemployed

A. Do not stay idle. Most people want to be employed. Devise means of employing yourself. Be open to people, interact with entrepreneurs and you will learn a lot. Be inventive and innovative. In other words have your priorities right!


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