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Monday, January 23, 2012

Just what are employers looking for?

I spent the last week of 2011 and the initial 2 days of 2012 at a conference that brought together over 2500 university and college students from across the world at the Kabarak University. This was an amazing moment as associates engaged with students on various issues of concern among them entry and growth in the workplace. As I facilitated some seminars on job search, I could not avoid noticing that some of the participants were frustrated with the job market.
One of the participants indicated that she has been on the job search trail over the last two years, has sent out numerous applications and attended several interviews but has not received any job offer. This has made her traverse from disappointment to disillusionment as she wonders whether she would ever get her dream job. Empathy has set in and she is not sure of what the future holds. Amidst all these experiences was a deep seated concern: What might employers be looking for that she has not presented so far?

There are a few considerations that job seekers ought to be alive to as they hit the ground for a job. Employers are people seeking to meet prescribed targets and hence get into the market of people for specific skills, competencies and character that promises to meet their need. A realization that employers can at times get desperate for skilled and appropriate persons should encourage desperate job seekers that they could meet on the way with the prospective employer.

Job seekers should be aware that employers are looking for people to employ. They are keen on an individual who possesses certain character traits that meets their need. Every workplace and task requires certain traits in terms of character and hence employers get out seeking for the missing or requisite character from among the job seekers. 

The challenge with the market however is that most of the job seekers only present their certificates to the employer and fail to appreciate that the employer may not at that moment be interested in the papers but in the person. When searching for a job, consider marketing who you are alongside what you can do for the employer. Always remember that people employ people.

The second important consideration by employers is the relevance of the skills and experience. As much as job seekers vilify employers for asking for high qualifications in terms of work experience, I would suggest that you position yourself in the role of the employer. If you have a task that has to be accomplished within a limited timeframe and budget, would you rather go for someone with some level of experience or one with no experience at all? That is the dilemma. Employers seek for relevant experience since that is what is expected to deliver results. Job seekers should hence seek to value their experience and package it to reflect relevance to the employer.

Finally, presenting yourself as a complete package is helpful. In addition to the degree or diploma you studied on campus, what else do you have to show to complement the degree? Relevant certificates are a great resource when presented for a relevant opportunity. It is never wise to disclose all the certificate courses you have undertaken especially if you are convinced some may not add value to your job bid.

So, as you work out your job search strategy for 2012, consider your character, your experience and skills and seek for jobs that require your package.

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