Good advice from JobsMentor

Excellent advice from

Kenyan Jobsekeer: 10 Mistakes to Avoid

Dear Kenyan jobseeker,

You’ve tried almost everything to secure a job, including working several unpaid internships. You are now frustrated. If only someone would be kind enough to give you some pointers on why your methods are not working. Lucky for you, JobsMentor is on your side and wants to help you GET THE JOB YOU WANT.

Perhaps you are making one of the small, but high problematic problems, listed below…

1. “AM looking for a job”

What’s wrong with the sentence above? Look again. Hint: it’s in capital letters.

Yes, AM. That’s not a subject. You’ve started a sentence with a helping verb. The correct sentence: “I am looking for a job” OR “I’m looking for a job”.  If you want a job, re-learn your grammar. Writing skills are one of seven basic skills that will get you a job. Please do not assume that just because you have a certificate/diploma/degree you have any command of the English language. Study it carefully. Other language errors to be aware of: lack of capitals where due; lack of punctuation where due; or use of punctuation where not due; misuse of words (especially words you have picked up from other people but never looked up in the dictionary; wayward, confused sentences; typos that portray you as a careless person e.t.c.


Are you sending emails that do not begin with an acknowledgement of the recipient? Have you considered how rude you must sound? How about “Good morning” or “Good afternoon”?  Be as conscious as possible about the fact that you are intruding on this person. Be extremely polite. If you are not sure how you come across, ask an objective person to read an email or listen to a phone call you are making and help you improve.


Are you writing ‘hi’ or ‘hey’ to someone you are hoping will employ you? Are you addressing them by first name without permission? Are you showing up at interviews in less than strictly formal clothes? Are you writing in abbreviated language: ‘thks’ or ‘thanks’ instead of ‘thank you”. If you are doing any of the above, stop immediately. Your potential employer is a stranger: treat him/her formally, politely and respectfully.


Time is short and as a young jobseeker you are at the bottom of the foodchain. Whoever is listening to you is doing you a huge favor. Practice what you are going to say ahead of time because you need to have the answer to every question posed to you at the tip of your tongue. If you are ever answering a question for more that 30 seconds you are committing the terrible sin of verbal diarrhoea. Be precise; don’t strain the other person’s attention.


Type everything please. It’s the 21st century. A handwritten cover letter or CV especially on fullscap paper (which is by default the roughest and cheapest paper in the market) is equivalent to wearing creased clothes to your interview.

6. ME, ME, ME

“I need a job”.  “I have a diploma/ degree.” ME, ME, ME.  Unfortunately, no one wants to hire you because YOU need a job. Let’s rephrase that: EMPLOYERS DO NOT GIVE JOBS TO PEOPLE WHO NEED THEM. Employers give jobs to people who show how they can meet the employers’ needs. What does your potential employer need? Do you know?  It is supremely important to talk in terms of what you can do for your potential employer and not what you need or want. Book recommendation: How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie (an old, timeless book).


If you are sending applications to companies that you do not know/understand inside out, you doing the equivalent of burning your degree/diploma/certificate. You cannot adequately present yourself as the best candidate without understanding what the company cares about. It’s not enough to visit the company’s website, although that is a good start. You need to know who will be interviewing you and what he/she likes in a job applicant. How do you do that? Find out from a JobsMentor.


From the moment you decide to start looking for a job, to your first day at a new job, to the rest of your working life, you are and will always be a job seeker. Every minute, every second. You never know who is watching you. The person you disrespect on the street, might be your interviewer on ninth floor. The receptionist you forget to greet may be asked whether you should be hired. The man who watches you act stupid with your friends at Steers, might be an important client for the company of your dreams. The silly meme you forward on facebook may be offensive to someone somewhere in HR. That habit you have formed of never writing full sentences on text may accidentally show up when you are emailing someone very important. In a million small ways, you are sabotaging yourself.


Do you ask people for their time then forget to show up for meetings or cancel simply because you do not feel like attending anymore? Respect those who give you their time.  In a country where everyone is lax about time, you will stand out for being on time, every time, and for taking up only the time allocated to you. Form good habits now and you will never find yourself running through the streets of Nairobi, late for the most important interview of your life.


No one wants to carry your burden. Very few people have job openings or the ability to hire you. But they may have the knowledge and connections you need. Don’t be lazy and try make them get a job for you. Stop sending unsolicited CVs; stop leaving messages across the wide world web to the tune “I need a job”. Everyone needs a job and everyone has your qualifications. Show some initiative: seek advice and actively employ it. This is your job search.

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