Hunting for a job can be an arduous task. Kutafuta kazi ni kazi, a common Swahili aphorism goes. The Englishman would call it the job of job hunting.

<p><b>A 2017 report revealed that over 7 million Kenyans are unemployed.</b></p><p><b>Another fraction of people in active employment would be looking to switch jobs- the search for greener pastures.</b></p>

People are looking for jobs. A 2017 report revealed that over 7 million Kenyans are unemployed, another fraction of people in active employment would be looking to switch jobs- the search for greener pastures.

Unemployed or not, there are things you MUST know when applying for a job, and we have compiled them for you. We spoke to Janet Martin and Winnie Rono- experienced Human Resource practitioners with more than 15 years of practice between them, and here is what they had to say:

Check the background of the company

It is important to know about the organization that you intend to join. This includes checking what the products or services it offers to simple things such as the vision statement, which most people tend to ignore. 

“Knowing a company’s vision will actually help you to tailor all your answers to what the company stands for during an interview,” says Janet Martin, a Human Resource Administration Manager at Standard Group PLC.

Another important thing is to try to connect with an employee or former employee of the company. This will give you a better understanding of the organization’s culture and would likely give you an upper hand if you are called for an interview.

Understand the job description

When you come across a job vacancy, keenly read through it and ensure you completely understand all the qualifications needed for the job. Do not apply for a job that doesn’t meet your skills or academic qualifications.

What do you do when a vacancy requires someone with seven years’ experience, and you’ve only worked for three years? “I would hire someone based on their character, attitude, and the skills they possess,” says Winnie Rono, a Human Resource Business Partner at Standard Group PLC.

“Do you believe your skillset qualifies you for the advertised job? Go for it! Sometimes we also consider people who are agile and have the urge to learn even if they don’t have the required experience.” Winnie Rono says. 

Know your worth

A common question asked in interviews is your salary expectation (if not included in the advertisement). First, know the market value of that particular job description to ensure that you don’t quote a figure that is way above what you should actually earn- this could put off a prospective employer.

This doesn’t mean that you should under-quote yourself because “employers usually love people who know and value their worth.” Winnie Rono adds that under-quoting carries the risk of being underpaid since “that’s what you asked for.”

However, you could still earn more as some organizations would still give you the minimum wage even if you quote a figure below their salary bracket. “Give a range as opposed to a specific figure when asked to state your remuneration fees,” says Janet Martin.

Contact your referees

Remember to inform your referees of any vacancy you apply for so they can be mentally prepared to vouch for you when they are called. Check their contact information such as mobile numbers or email addresses to ascertain if they are still active. It would be embarrassing if a prospective employer calls your referee only to find they changed their number or email addresses.

Work on your online reputation

People tend to think that their personal social media accounts would have little or nothing to do with whether they could get a job or not. The opposite could be true. 

Some employers would ask for your social media credentials and go through your timeline to check your online interactions. “What you post or share can tell what kind of person you are, we are usually curious to know the personalities of prospective employees,” says Mrs Rono.

So there you go, you might want to delete some of the nasty stuff on your timeline!

Prepare your documents

A common rule of thumb is to never use one resume to apply for different vacancies. Always tailor your curriculum vitae (CV) to meet the job description advertised in a vacancy. Updating your CV also enables you to capture your milestones, “Always start with your latest achievements,” says Mrs Martin. 

What do you do if you are employed but seeking for greener pastures? Get a recommendation letter from your current employer. Most companies would always call your current employer to inquire about your conduct, so it is important to be on good terms with them.

“As an HR manager, I would be happy if one of my staff gets greener pastures, I would give a good recommendation based on how you’ve carried yourself,” Winnie Rono says. Always act professionally and serve notice according to your contractual terms where required. 

“And tell your fellow young people to do adequate research before going for an interview,” Winnie tells me in a stern voice.

Be disciplined

Prepare to be punctual when called for an interview. This means you have to know the exact location of the company and calculate the time you might take to get there while keeping in mind probable traffic delays. Don’t take the chance; it is so embarrassing to have your interviewers wait for you.

Ensure that you are also well-groomed for an interview, even when the job you are applying for is casual. First impressions matter a lot, and they last long.