Kenya: It is every student’s hope that he or she will land a job soon after graduation. Society also expects them to immediately transit from student to nation builder. In many instances, parents and guardians will begin to ration their support in a bid to drive them towards fruitful careers and self-sustenance.
As a result, the pressure for a first-time job seeker can be overwhelming.
The job market works like a typical market where you present your skills and negotiate with a willing buyer. At this early stage, many employers may find your limited skills unattractive and you are likely to receive a lot of regret letters and emails.
But no matter how many regrets you receive, giving up should never be an option.
The most important thing is to avoid inertia. Keep moving forward. Remember, a static wagon will just rot and depreciate in value.
It is important that you appreciate you are a beginner. The road to success goes uphill, and there is only one way to get there: from the bottom up.
Ignorance and naivety must be avoided at all costs. Ensure you follow due and ethical processes in your job search. At this vulnerable stage, many people can get conned by opportunists and attempt to take shortcuts.
Also, keep in mind that things have changes. Every new day presents fresh challenges for the modern job seeker. While job seekers of yesteryears wrote and posted letters, the modern job seeker is expected to write emails, upload CVs and complete online forms, among a host of other technology-driven processes.
Do not get hung up on a world that no longer exists, and insist on doing things the way they used to be done; you will not do yourself any favours.
Be conscious of the level of competition in the market. Remember that thousands of fresh graduates are hitting the road each year.
And for every available job opportunity, there are potentially hundreds of other equally qualified people eyeing the same position. As such, you must up your game to create a competitive edge. Seek to raise your personal standards, including your personal presentation, communication, flexibility and other soft skills that will make you an attractive hire.
Attend career fairs and seek help from career counselling centres to learn how to market your experiences to employers. This will also give you an opportunity to learn from those whose job applications have failed to hit the intended mark.
Invest time in learning the basics, such as how to prepare a CV and a cover letter. If in doubt, consult a professional to ensure your CV is as good as it can possibly be.
Networking is a powerful tool in overcoming inertia. Let all the people you come across in a professional capacity know you are available for work.
Do not allow opportunities for a job to pass you by. Apply and interview for every opportunity that is sent your way, even if it is not paid. This way, you will improve your performance and enhance your skillset.
Maintain a positive attitude towards your career and the job market. And adopt a culture of continuous learning to keep yourself abreast with the current affairs in your chosen field. Remember, information is power to those who possess it.
Whatever you do, fight the temptation to slide into mediocrity and self-pity.