One frustrating but common predicament most job seekers in Kenya encounter is deciding whether or not to apply for a job if they don’t meet the specific employer’s requirements. It is a frustrating but common
occurrence many Kenyan job seekers can relate to.
While browsing job postings be it online or through newspapers, you see a job that has the responsibilities and duties that match your interests. The day-to-day role is exactly what you’ve been hoping to find. Then you see the minimal requirements and, although you have some of the necessary skills and plenty of passion, you don’t have the qualifications or the number of years the company demands.
Perhaps you have three years of relevant experience, not five. Or you have a bachelor’s degree, not a master’s. You’ve been in a managerial role but haven’t drawn up a budget before. You know you can do the job very well, but you don’t know if you’ll even be considered without satisfying each of the requirements.
Should you apply for such a job?
Gauge your optionsThe decision to apply seems like an obvious choice. On the surface, you have nothing to lose by submitting your CV and everything to gain if you are called in for an interview. Yet, you need to look beyond the immediate outcomes and ask yourself a few questions:
1.How close am I to being qualified?Some Human Resource managers in Kenya won’t consider any applicant who doesn’t meet the minimum job requirements, even if they are a perfect fit save for having one too few years of experience. However, many HR managers will look at all the job candidate has to offer, so the right education, work history and skills can make up for other shortcomings. Give yourself an honest estimate of how close you are to the employer’s ideal applicant. For example, assume i want a CPA Part two with 3 years experience. Those with CPA-K and two years should apply as they come close.
2.Am I wasting the employer’s (and my) time?Wanting the job — even if you’re a quick learner — is significantly different than being qualified and capable. A job seeker with years of experience in another industry might be a skilled worker, but that doesn’t necessarily translate to a good match for this job. Use your cover letter and CV to make a strong case for your ability to do the job, otherwise the HR manager won’t view you as a serious candidate. An example to take the point home. A secretary working for an accounting firm has very different roles from that working for a construction firm. The principles behind being a secretary are the same but each industry demands are different.
3. Do I have a plan?Taking the previous two points into consideration, ask yourself what your next step is. If you are one course from completing your degree and being qualified for this job (and others like it), will you return to school next semester? Is working for this specific company a priority?
If so, you don’t want to repeatedly apply for jobs until the HR department has flagged you as a nuisance. Instead, only apply to jobs for which you are a contender. Take some time to gain experience and skills that give you the right qualifications. As frustrating as the long process might be, it can transform you from a long shot to a front runner if this particular industry or company is important to you.
4.Look at the situation from the employer’s perspectiveAccording to my recent survey, only 18 percent of HR managers in Kenya spend more than two minutes looking at a CV and 5 percent spend 15 seconds or less ( i swear this is true, if in doubt just ask your HR manager). You need to make a positive impression quickly if you want to get noticed for any job, but especially for one where your qualifications fall short of the employer’s expectations.
Imagine yourself sitting on the other side of the desk and look at your CV and cover letter from the boss’ perspective. If you were choosing from the pool of 100 job applicants, would you pick your application out of the pile or would it go in the waste bin? Consider some of the ways you could boost your chances of landing an interview and eventually the job:
5·Don’t leave room for doubtDon’t send a cover letter or CV that apologizes for your shortcomings. Instead, give examples of how your experience is relevant to the position. Rather than make broad statements about what you could do for the company, cite specific statistics or accomplishments.
6·Satisfy as many requirements as possibleAlthough you don’t meet every qualification listed on the job posting, you should meet some of them. Just because you don’t have managerial experience doesn’t mean you’re exempt from meeting the application deadline and submitting the requested documents. Do not allow the HR manager to discount you for a preventable technicality.
And finally, always remember you can only win if you try!