The level of unemployment in Kenya is on an all-time high. This comes at a time when employers are advertising jobs on a daily basis, desperately searching to fill their vacant positions; and job seekers are daily searching for jobs. One would think that there would be a steady decrease in the unemployment rates, but recent statistics paint a different narrative. So why is there such a huge disconnect? This article will show factors that might have contributed to this situation.

1. Supply and demand curve

The number of available jobs in the market is lower than the candidates periodically graduating from tertiary academic institutions.  The BrighterMonday Talent Report shows that over the past 3 years, there has been an unemployment rate of 24% in youths aged between 20-24 years. 

With 57% of job seekers seeking full-time employment at any given time, the competition for available jobs is always cutthroat. 

2.  Employer recruitment flaws

Sometimes employers and recruiters have unrealistic expectations of the ideal candidates they are looking for to fill their vacant positions. Recruiters judge candidates solely by aptitude and forget the valuable importance of attitude. This especially happens in industries that receive much attention from job seekers like the customer service and call center industry as shown below;

Most Kenyan employers make use of recruitment software to help deal with application avalanches that have become the norm of Kenya’s recruitment scene. Such scientific software may actually bypass real hire-worthy candidates for much less qualified candidates. Job seekers need training on how to optimize their CVs in order to get an interview opportunity to showcase their skills.

Other times, internal processes within a company may interfere with the recruitment process. For instance, where the human resource department has already put out an advert, and then the hiring budget is suddenly cut, rendering all current recruitment processes into a limbo state. Other times, a company may decide to promote from within while at the same time they have put out an advert. Such processes contribute to the rising frustration in job seekers, who have no idea what is going on. 

3. Jobseeker job application flaws

Most job seekers are not what Kenyan employers consider “job-ready”. Fresh graduates mostly bear the brunt of this tag due to their perceived lack of work ethic, impressionable attitude and their obsession with quick fixes. Employers need employees with the willingness to learn, the ability to fit in the workplace and above all, who can be relied on.  Candidates should present themselves as possessing these qualities so as to stand out from the huge crowd of job seekers.

Some job seekers lack the job application etiquette that will make them stand out. As a rule, do not send the same CV and cover letter to all employers. Chances are they might have seen the same formats only with different biodata. Be different by optimizing your CV and cover letter with what the employer is looking for. Candidates should only apply for jobs they are qualified to increase the chances of employers considering their applications. Below is a summary of qualifications in Kenyan candidates over the last 3 years;

Interview and negotiation skills are also lacking in most job seekers. CVs and other application documents may sell candidates really well, but their interview skills make them miss out on promising jobs. Candidates should be aware of common interview questions and how to respond in a way that will impress the interviewers.

At the end of the day, individuals who learn to read the market and how to navigate through its challenges will seize the few good opportunities that exist and flourish in a seemingly challenging environment.