How to improve your chances of getting that dream job

A happy woman at her job. (Courtesy.iStock)

What do employers look for when they are recruiting? This is a question that continues to plague many jobseekers. Many wonder why, despite their impressive academic or job qualifications, they still fall short during interviews.

Human resources professionals had a symposium moderated by the French Chamber of Commerce, where skills requirements were discussed. The forum, organised by Campus France and held at the Alliance Française auditorium, agreed that there are gaps between what is taught in colleges and what employers are actually looking for.

According to Ann Kariuki, the human resources lead at Brookside Dairies, soft skills complement hard skills (professional qualifications).

“Employers are on the lookout for emotional intelligence in their prospective employees, as well as relationship building and creativity in problem-solving,” she explained. “Customer service skills are also important, as well as teamwork. A combination of these soft skills and hard skills creates a very successful work environment.”

Mary Chemas-Jumba, the Human Resources manager at Africa Global Logistics (AGL), reiterated the importance of soft skills, which include communication skills and ethical practices. “It is very important for our employees to have good communication skills as they will be called upon to engage with our customers,” she explains, adding that good interpersonal skills are crucial for relating with fellow employees.

Beatrice Ndaisi Kimuyu, who coordinates the partnership between the University of Nairobi and industries, acknowledged that there are gaps between training and the needs of employers. “You will find instances where students can’t even put together a CV, while others cannot express themselves eloquently,” she said.

To help address this, Ndaisi, who is also the alumni relationships manager, said that her office is reaching out to industries to offer valuable lessons to students regarding employer expectations. “We are effectively bringing industries to the university,” she said, adding that this process also includes securing industrial attachments for the students. The discussion was moderated by Laure Paugam, the executive director of the French Chamber of Commerce in Kenya, on the sidelines of the annual Jobs Fair forum that took place on May 16 at the Alliance Française.

The event brought together students currently taking French courses, alumni of French universities, companies registered with the French Chamber of Commerce, as well as HR practitioners from those firms.

Established in Kenya in 2012, Campus France is the National French Agency dedicated to the promotion of higher education, fostering international student exchange, and facilitating global mobility. “The Campus France Kenya Office operates under the purview of the French Embassy in Kenya and Somalia, in conjunction with the Alliance Française of Nairobi,” explained Eva Plaziat, the manager of Campus France.

Bridge opportunities

The French Chamber of Commerce, Paugam explained, operates in more than 100 countries worldwide. “We bring together a community of 35,000 companies. In Kenya, we started six years ago. Our aim is to bridge opportunities between French and Kenyan private sectors. We have a network of 200 companies,” she said. “We try to give our members as many opportunities as possible to meet, connect, showcase expertise, and hopefully work together.”

Denis Githinji, the head of operations at Brighter Monday, acknowledges the gap between what is taught in schools and what is demanded by the industry. “At Brighter Monday, we try to bridge that gap by training them on soft skills as well as optimizing their resumes to enhance their findability,” he explained. Brighter Monday also helps French firms entering Kenya identify and recruit employees with the desired qualities.

Dr Viola Jepchumba Kosgei, the chairperson of AFRAKEN (Association of France Alumni in Kenya), said that their main mission is to strengthen ties between alumni in Kenya and abroad with French institutions and to expand knowledge of French culture. 

Firms that took part in the Fair include Total Energies, AGL, Brighter Monday, Brookside  Decathlon, among others.



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