Shortlist stories

What we learned from an evening with a bunch of Mumbai jobseekers

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On a rainy Friday evening in Mumbai, we got together with over 30 outstanding professionals and jobseekers so they could learn more about Shortlist and we could get to know them! Despite the gloomy night, the conversations that ensued over hot chai and pizza were both bright and enlightening.

Here’s what we learned:

Candidates want the freedom to switch careers

Many attendees from a variety of industries and job roles expressed their willingness — nay, desire — to switch careers to something more meaningful or exciting. Some of them had even invested their time and money into acquiring skills like mobile app development or project management, hoping it might help them in making these non-linear career moves. We were particularly inspired by a candidate who mentioned wanting to take up an internship in digital marketing to get his foot in the door and work his way up after putting in 10 years in a totally unrelated industry!

We love to hear that professionals want to challenge the status quo and fulfill their potential in a career they’re excited about. Unfortunately, candidates explained that employers they’ve spoken to often don’t see things the same way. Firms like to hire ‘low-risk’ candidates and therefore tend to hire based on industry experience in an effort to ensure job fit and increased retention.

Ever thought of switching careers but don’t know where to begin?

The main thing you can do is highlight transferrable skills you’ve developed in your current job. Maybe your career in software sales made you great at persuasively explaining complex concepts, which you could translate into a communications role. Perhaps in your operations role you really excelled in hiring and developing trainee colleagues, and that’s how you could shine in a people operations role. Get creative, keep thinking about the root traits that underlie success in each required job responsibility, and make sure to communicate this when appealing to potential employers.

Add in some research and lots of networking (online and offline), and you’re well on your way to landing that new dream job. It won’t happen overnight, but persistence and curiosity are your allies when switching career types and industries.

Brr — “Job boards feel cold”

We learned so much about where and how candidates are looking for jobs in India today. While Naukri, Linkedin, IIMJobs, and other job boards are still undoubtedly the most convenient places to find and apply to a high volume of jobs quickly, our candidates felt it was easy to get lost in the crowd — with hundreds or sometimes even thousands of applicants for a single position.

Issues they expressed included frustration over shooting resumes into a black hole and never hearing back about their application status (or whether their application had even been received by the employer!!) and receiving incessant emails about jobs that weren’t relevant to the interests they had specified after signing up. Contrastingly, they seemed to really appreciate the few times that companies had invested in warmer, more humanizing hiring processes.

Employers take note!

Shortlist has found that the desire for a more tailored hiring experience is a global trend. Check out our takeaways from a similar candidate event we hosted in Nairobi — from Kenya to India, candidates want employers and job boards to recognize that behind every CV is a real human, and every application represents an individual who is trying to further their career.

Hearing this loud and clear was an excellent reminder for us to continue prioritizing candidate care and being there for applicants every step of the way.

Today’s jobseekers want to be able to highlight their strengths on their applications

Another issue that candidates had while applying to jobs was figuring out how to put their best foot forward. They wondered how they could differentiate themselves from other applicants on a 1 or 2 page CV despite being advised (just like everyone else) to optimize for certain keywords employers would look for. Many candidates were surprised to learn that the average amount of time an employer spends on a CV is 8 seconds — very little time to highlight your key strengths!

On the other hand, our attendees felt far more confident in their applications when they actually had to put some skin in the game and showcase their skills on simulations and assessments that mirrored a day in the life of the job they were applying to.

What to do?

While we can’t change how other companies run their application processes, this reinforced for us that even though applying for a job through Shortlist takes a considerable time investment, most candidates are happy for a chance to show what they can do.

While we’re biased towards our platform (check out open jobs and start an application here!) other cool platforms that let you highlight your strengths and be objectively assessed as part of your job application include HackerRank and Aspiring Minds.

We hear you!

At Shortlist, we’re constantly trying to get to know and understand the experience of professionals in today’s job market so we can better respond to their needs and curate resources that will help them in their job searches (be on the lookout for more candidate resources soon!). Every time we get a chance to meet with candidates in person, we’re reenergized in our mission to level the job search playing field and help candidates highlight their ability to do the job to potential employers.

Do you have any other comments, qualms or observations about being a jobseeker in India?

How and where are you currently applying to jobs?

How are you currently exploring career opportunities — articles, blogs, networking groups?

What would you like to see in terms of coaching and mentoring opportunities?

How can we better support candidates as they apply to jobs, whether on Shortlist or not?

Let us know what works and what doesn’t in the comments!

To start an application, check out openings on our platform at

For more ideas, resources, and updates from Shortlist, be sure to follow us on Twitter, Medium, and Facebook (where we post new job alerts on our feed!).


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

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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