We met 50 jobseekers in Nairobi — here’s what we learned

We met 50 jobseekers in Nairobi — here’s what we learned

2000 1389 Olivia Wold

In late March, we had the chance to get to know an impressive group of professionals at our Nairobi office.

We wanted to meet some of our all-star applicants face-to-face and pick their brains about job seeking in Kenya, and also give them the chance to ask us questions and learn more about the Shortlist process.

The candidates — all experienced professionals in marketing, operations, finance, supply chain, sales, HR, IT and more — blew us away with their enthusiasm and commitment to unlocking their professional potential. Here are four of our team’s takeaways from these conversations:

1. Candidates are hungry to find their dream jobs

Each of the candidate attendees brought so much enthusiasm to the space. In fact, they were so excited to talk about their careers and job searches that they even came to hang out with us on a Friday night!

Candidates who are currently job-seeking are really the experts on what’s working and what’s not, and we appreciated their eagerness to give feedback. For example, in a discussion about job boards, we learned that some that we thought were popular weren’t so user-friendly, and we got tips on new ones (like Jobs in Kenya, UN Jobs Lists, Career Solutions and Impact Pool) to check out. Do you have other job boards to recommend? Let us know in the comments!

2. Candidates know what they want — but not where to get it

In small group sessions, we got to hear about the job search resources that candidates would love to have (and were willing to pay for), but don’t know how to find. Some of their ideas included:

  • Live chat with a career coach
  • Have an expert review and edit their CV (especially to cut it down from four or five pages to one!)
  • Get help with interview preparation, for example, receiving a list of common interview questions for a specific sector or job type
  • Take a test that tells jobseekers what positions they’re best qualified or suited for
  • Learn to develop an “elevator pitch” or cover letter that makes a powerful, positive impression on employers

This was definitely food for thought for us, as we strive to support both the candidate and employer throughout the sourcing and screening stages and beyond. We’re still in the process of developing our offerings for candidates, but if you know of any similar services or resources, let us know in the comments!

3. Recruiters should remember the Golden Rule

The job search can be a time consuming, disappointing and seemingly never-ending experience. Taking the extra effort to treat others the way you would want to be treated (with respect and fairness) would make everyone’s lives better during this process.

Many candidates expressed annoyance with getting generic rejection notices at the end of a lengthy job application. Understanding that it’s not possible for companies to write a personalized note to every applicant, candidates pointed out that getting a rejection addressed to “Dear Applicant” did not make them feel like their effort and interest was recognized.

People noted other ways for companies and recruiters to respect their time and effort, like making sure to take down expired job openings from their websites, or not accepting applicants when they already have someone else in mind for the job. These comments were a valuable reminder that behind every CV and application is a real person, who needs to be treated as such.

Lastly — authenticity matters! Jobseekers are very attuned to whether or not the companies they are applying to feel honest and real – in everything from the job description, to their e-mails, and especially the interviews. Companies should remember that the candidate is evaluating a fit with you just as much as the company is evaluating the candidate — so be real, tell it like it is, and be authentic!

4. You can’t beat in-person connections

In today’s world, a huge amount of interaction happens face-to-screen instead of face-to-face. Certainly, technology has enabled greater access to opportunity and incredible advances both in recruiting and professional development. But, we heard (and saw!) from candidates how excited they were to get in a room with their peers and talk about these career-critical topics. Webinars, Twitter chats and blog posts are great resources, but there’s nothing like being in a room together to make connections and form relationships.

When asked about professional networking groups, most people weren’t aware of any standout professional associations or networking groups in their fields. And of those who named some, they said they might help connect you with other professionals in your field, but don’t offer robust services for jobseekers. Let’s crowdsource some ideas — if you have more ideas for great meet-ups for jobseekers and professionals in Nairobi or Mumbai, let us know in a comment below.

See you next time!

To everyone who joined us at our happy hour — thank you, and we hope to see you again soon! If you’d be interested in attending events like this in the future, get in touch with me at Olivia@shortlist.net.