I am writing this article in response to the growing number of unemployed but very qualified young people. The number is alarmingly high and universities and colleges are churning out more and more graduates annually.
I am not in any way a human resource consultant or expert but as a young Kenyan marketer who believes job seeking is an issue of selling your skills to the highest & best bidder. Sadly not many youths even get a platform to pitch or attend interviews to show what they got. As I noted on my facebook update on Wednesday the issue of unemployment shall never be handled squarely by the government and the private sector. I have worked with organizations and individuals in various roles and once in a while vacancies do arise but we just don’t get the right person to fit into that role. What happens is we simply don’t hire and end up overworking the few employees we have because there is just no one among the candidates who showed interest that we felt could fit into the organization.
My case here is that you should be able to package yourself as a suitable would be employee if given a chance before an interview panel. At that stage you are selling what you think you can do. Having sat on both sides of the table as an interviewer and interviewee I understand what it feels like to be grilled by a panel of bored guys who just want to have some fun in an afternoon! As an interviewer I have asked questions to dig deeper to understand a candidate and he/she ends up giving the wrong responses yet I could clearly feel he is very qualified.
I would like to share a few things that interviewers look for apart from your academic qualifications.
This is simple…It’s a question of ‘do you really like what you do’? This is very key in the interview process as this indicates whether you will give extra to the job, be proactive and seek to learn quickly in your new role. A few desperate young people apply for any job they come across online; if you have been lucky you get an interview chance but if it’s the wrong job for you or a role that doesn’t match your skills your chances of looking and sounding very passionate are very low.
As a graduate with great dreams of making it big in the corporate world leadership skills are really going to set you apart from the rest. This can be demonstrated by leadership roles you held in campus or college or in any other capacity. Well not all of us get to be in these leadership positions so the best way to demonstrate your skills is in situations or moments when you led without a position. There are also those times when your leader wasn’t there and you stepped into his/her position and led the team on a project. This has to come out clearly; bosses always want to hire guys who can help them handle lesser roles and manage teams on their behalf. Please show this!
This is one of the most important things; attitude is almost everything. There are people out there who certainly do not have that winning attitude. They are chronic complainers, losers ,gossipers; guys who feel that work is a chore that should be just done 8-5. People who don’t take up challenges positively and learn from their past failures. There are also guys who always come up with excuses for every failure and blame it to others. If you lie anywhere here please change now. If you also walk into the interview feeling intimidated and insufficient you will just look & portray just that! When you get that chance of an interview walk in there confidently, don’t fake it and be honest! That sells a lot!
Have a Plan
The greatest achievers have always had a plan and a vision. They clearly understand where they want to be, when and clearly know how to get there. In the past I have quit from jobs and let go opportunities that I felt couldn’t add anything to my life apart from the pay cheque. If you are young; money will always come if you persistently stick on the path of greatness. If you love what you do and how you do it…keep doing it. Don’t take up positions that blind you and kill you! As a marketer I always seek to work with brands that I love. That’s what my profile picture & timeline cover on Facebook is all about. If you end up in the wrong job, the position sucks your energy, the job becomes a pain. The reason why CEO’s go to work every day isn’t because they want just the hefty pay cheques. They love the challenge! What makes Caroline Mutoko or Manu Chandaria or Chris Kirubi wake up very early? It’s not because their employees won’t work,they love what they do and have a plan of getting bigger. That’s why their companies have a strategic plan , a vision and a mission. They all HAVE A PLAN. Formulate yours!
What Do you Bring on Board?
This is a question that comes almost at the end of the interview. It’s normally a tricky one however if you are a fresh graduate with no solid experience do not worry that much. When I go to interviews I always handle this question depending on the position. If its an entry level position you are interviewing for do demonstrate your ability to learn, show pro-activeness and most important your ability to work in a team. If you already have some experience this changes. Show how what you learnt in your previous positions helps you fill in that role. Being a new organization show your ability to get along with people rather fast. An element of arrogance may show you will disregard your new colleagues so please tone it down. You might be so qualified but nobody wants to hire a know it all!
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