By Kibet Tobias

Are you a recent graduate looking for a job today?

You have probably not worked for long and therefore have limited work experience needed in the field. So what can you expect during your interview?

According to Ms. Esther Kamau, a professional interview coach at Corporate Staffing Services, interview questions employers ask entry level candidates will typically be focused on why you are interested in the job and why they should hire you.

That said, here are commonly asked entry level interview questions with sample answers.

1. Tell me about yourself

This question is usually used to break the ice and see how personable you can be. Be careful not to be too personal when tackling this question. Employers simply want to understand your professional background.

To effectively answer this, think about your professional self. Don’t talk about family issues, marital status or religion.

You can safely give a brief overview covering where you grew up, where you went to school, why you chose your field, any relevant internship experience you have, and why you’re applying for that particular job.

Sample Answer

“My name is Mercy Njeri. I am a Certified Public Accountant and a Bachelor of Commerce graduate with two years’ experience working as an Accountant in a manufacturing company where I was charged with all financial records of the company.’’

2. What are your weaknesses?

Employers normally ask this question to find out the qualities you have that will help you succeed in the job if you are hired. Are you going to be problematic or a team player in the organization if considered?

So how do you go about this question?

Remember to be honest when answering this question. Don’t be tempted to lie or exaggerate yourself. Employers already know that you are not perfect. They also have their own challenges.

Sell yourself well and don’t deny your real weaknesses. However, the weakness you discuss should not put you in a bad light.

You can appropriately recognize the weakness and just be honest about improving yourself. Talk about also how you have worked to improve in your previous job.

Sample answer

 “My greatest weakness is an inability to share responsibilities. I want to be in control because I don’t trust others with projects I know I can do better. However, I have discussed this with my supervisor on ways to improve. I’ve engaged myself in several team building activities and a volunteer group and I love the progress. I’ve learned to trust others.”

3. What are your strengths?

This question sounds easy to a lot of candidates but it is quite The employer wants to know if your strengths match with the requirements of the job you’re interviewing for

So how do you perfectly answer this question?

You can explain the skills, achievements, and experience that you have which directly corresponds to the job you are interviewing for.

However, as much as you want to be the best candidate, you should never discuss unrealistic strengths.

For example, if you’re interviewing for a communication job, here’s the best answer:

“I have excellent writing skills. Having worked as a content editor for two years, I have a strong attention to detail when it comes to writing. I have also written for a variety of websites and leading publications, so I know how to shape my writing style to fit the target audience. As a digital marketer, I will be able to effectively incorporate SEO, write and edit articles and update web content with accuracy and ease.”

4. What do you know about our company?

Employers will ask you this question to find out if you are really interested in the company. They want to hire someone who is interested in the job and has a passion for it and the employer.

They also want to know if you have good research skills.

How to answer

Preparation is important when answering this question. Do your research about the company earlier and know them in and out. You can use their websites and social media platforms to know about their services and products.

Sample answer

“I love your products and services (mention specific products and services). Your company won African Travel Awards 2017. The company mission you represent is closely aligned with my interests.”

Interviews are hard especially when you feel that your experience is no match for what the rest in the industry have. However, it is not hard. You can still pass that interview by ensuring that you prepare for the common interview questions you may encounter.

What other interview questions have you found tough to handle? Leave a comment below.

An interview is supposed to act as an avenue to sell your skills and expertise to the hiring manager. It is also an avenue to ask relevant questions to the interviewer. According to Ms. Melody Mwendwa, a Professional Interview Coach at Corporate Staffing Services Limited, you should never leave an interview room without having asked a question. It shows a lack of interest on your part in the organization or the job. She advises that you engage the interviewer in a few interview questions related to the job and the company.

Interview Questions you should ask during the interview

1. What are your short- and long-term goals for the position?

Employers will probably ask about your career goals, but you should ask them what they want the person in this position to achieve. Are they concerned with increasing revenue, visibility, leads, improving morale or any number of other things? You want to know that they have a purpose for this position and aren’t just looking for a temporary solution.

2. Can you tell me why the last person left this job?

They might not tell you, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. If the person got promoted or took a better job elsewhere, that’s a sign that the position is a good way to advance a career.

3. Who are the people I’ll be working with on a daily basis?

Where does this role fit in the overall structure of the team and the business? Will you interact with people who can help your career? Will you spend most of your days in silence, typing on a computer? All that matters is that you receive an answer that appeals to you.

4. What do you think is the biggest challenge for a person taking up this role?

No position is perfect. In fact, some jobs are created to address a problem that needs to be solved. That could very well be what attracted you to the job. An honest employer will tell you what struggles lie ahead. That’s your opportunity to turn the answer around as a challenge you’re happy to accept and present some ideas of how you would tackle the obstacles. If the employer makes it sound too good to be true, it probably is.

5. Do you have any recommendations for how I could improve my interviewing skills?

Most job seekers forget to ask this. It helps you work on your failures so that you are ready for another interview. If you don’t get the position, you’ll be disappointed, but use it as an opportunity to improve your interviewing skills. Some employers won’t give you tips, but others might give you feedback that will help you on the next interview.

An interview should be an interaction between the candidate and hiring manager. As a candidate, you are interviewing employers just as much as they’re interviewing you. Have a list of interview questions ready before you start. You don’t need to ask these questions to look good to the employer; you need to ask them to learn about the employer.

Compiled by Lilian Wamaitha

By Susan Gitonga

Life is a journey and your Career is also going to take a journey of ups, downs, achievements and failures all of which are part of a beautiful career journey.

When you get that first job, you might feel like the most talented and competent person in the whole office but as time goes by you will realize that there’s so much to learn.

As they say, no one has a monopoly of knowledge. There’s always something to learn every day.

Moving up the career ladder will come with so many lessons to learn. You will look back at the person you were when you joined the company as an intern and the person you have become and conclude that you have grown in many ways.

Below are 5 career Lessons You Will Definitely Pick Up As You Go Up The Ladder

1. More responsibility is not a punishment but a promotion

Most certainly. As a child, more work almost meant that you were being punished by not so in the job world.

When more opportunities for you to do more at work come, it’s a sign that you are being trusted to do more tasks.

As an intern or an entry level employee, always be open to opportunities, extra work etc

Your employer will trust you and give you a bigger role, which will eventually come with a bigger salary.

2. During your first days at work, don’t take things personally

In your career journey , you will obviously meet many types of people, some of whom you might cross paths with.

Whatever the case is, don’t take things to heart. Go easy on your colleagues, your employer and supervisors.

Have an open mind and grow with the job.

Endeavor to learn instead.

3. Management Roles Are Not About You

When you get a promotion to manage a team, it’s no longer about you but about the team.

People are the most important asset you have. Listening to their needs and working together as a team will bring more success than the title you hold.

Management is a big role and with the right approach, a lot of success can be achieved.

4. Senior Management is an opportunity for you to climb up higher

At this point of your Career Ladder, you have managed to get into a very senior position.

You can now make great decisions for yourself and the people below you. Don’t fear asking your boss to change a few things here and there. You are next to your Boss in terms of management and your opinions do matter greatly.

If you have new ideas, present them and follow through with them

Your opinions and ideas are needed if the Company should grow upwards!

5. Being a CEO is all about the Businesss and the team

You are the driver of your Bus, and the captain of your ship.

Making the right decisions for your Company will be the most important thing you do for your business.

Have the right team, right systems, management, structures and environment for your people.

All the decisions you make will have a great effect on your business. Consulting your managers and gathering opinions and feedback from your team will steer your team in the right direction.

There’s no end to learning. Embrace all the lessons that come with climbing the Career Ladder.

By Susan Gitonga

Passing interviews should be at the top of your list of priorities this year. It is possible to have different employers giving you job offers because of how well you present yourself during an interview.

It is also possible for you to be spoilt for choice, wondering which job offer to pick. The secret lies with how you handle your job interviews.

Have a look at some of the best Interview Tips No One Ever Tells You About!

1. Interviewers don’t take one word answers lightly

When you sit in the interview room with an employer, you can expect to be asked many questions. Giving a one word answer like ‘yes/no’ might come across as being offensive to an employer.

It might also send a message to the employer that you are either shy or not interested in the job.

Example: When an interviewer asks you if you gained any skills in your previous job, don’t give ‘yes’ as the only answer. Go on to expound on what skills those are, and how they contributed to your growth and performance.

Best Tip: The more information you give, the better!

2. The first 5 minutes and the last 5 are the most crucial

They say first impressions are everything! Indeed they are. Walk into the interview with a smile. You might find that the employer is in a bad mood, and your smile will light them up and make them forget what’s bothering them.

Be confident, dress well and be light hearted when you walk into an interview.

The last 5 minutes apply the same concept. Shake hands with the interviewer, ask them for their business card, smile and sum up the interview on a high note by thanking them for their team.

Treat your interviewer as a new friend you have made. Leave them wishing they had interviewed you for a longer amount of time.

3. Believe that you are the best candidate for the Interview

Confidence and having a high self esteem is key.

It doesn’t matter how many people you are competing with for a job. Don’t fear competition.

Having the mindset of a winner is all you need.

If the interviewer invited you for an interview, it’s a very clear sign that you are close to the finish line. You are a great potential candidate for the job.

It’s now your duty to prove yourself in the interview.

You do not prove to the employer why you are better than the other candidates. You prove to the employer why you are qualified for the job.

Believe that you are best, and you will ace the interview!

5. Your personality is more important than your papers!

In an interview you will find that some of the people who end up getting jobs are people who didn’t have all the papers needed. Sometimes, your personality is the best CV you can ever show to the employer.

Are you a positive person? Do you give good responses to the questions asked?

Are you promising the employer to give your best once you are given the job?

Impressing the employer with your personality and your overall presence during the interview will give you an edge over someone who has the right papers but has a very dull personality.

Having a great personality that is welcoming and sociable is all you need, alongside your papers.

With the above tips implemented, you can be sure that you are on your way to landing that job you really want in 2017! All the best.


Jobs in Tanzania

By Michelle Wanjiku

Writing a cover letter may seem simple enough but when it comes to getting a job it could be the difference between getting your CV looked at and having your application thrown out.

Most hiring managers don’t have time to go through all the CVs so instead, they look at your cover letter, if it is found wanting then your application is normally thrown out.

It is therefore, very important that the letter is free of mistakes and well written.

Here is a list of mistakes to avoid when drafting your cover letter

1. Failing To Customize Your Cover Letter

This is really important when it comes to writing a cover letter. Sadly most people use generic cover letters to apply for all the jobs they are interested in.

You may be applying for the same position say, HR Assistant, but the responsibilities and required qualifications for each job might be slightly different.

Therefore, for every job you apply for, you must draft a different Cover Letter. This is because, an application letter is supposed to show the employer that you are fit for that specific job. Not for any general HR assistant position.

2. Failing to address it to a particular person.

Now even if the person receiving the application may not have been mentioned in the job description, it is up to you to make a point of researching and finding out who will receive them.

This is a good way of showing the hiring managers that you truly are interested in the position and you took the time to do your research.

A recruitment manager is more likely to invite you for an interview if you addressed them by their name as opposed to the Dear Sir/Madam salutation.

3. Using ‘I’ or ‘me’ a hundred times.

According to Melody Mwendwa, a CV/Cover Letter writing professional at Corporate Staffing Services, the focus on your cover letter should be on how you meet the company’s needs not about you.

Instead, focus on showing how your qualifications are relevant to the position you are applying for.

4. Using statements like ‘I am a hard worker… etc

His are general statements that don’t really show what you bring to the table or what you have done.

You should provide real life examples of what you have done that relates to the job. Remember to keep it short and not to use too many examples.

If you are applying for a customer care job, you can say, you implemented new methods of delivering customer service at costs well below industry standards.

5. Grammatical Errors

There is no excuse for having grammatical errors in your Cover Letter because this shows that you are irresponsible and not very keen.

These are traits that will not land you a job. After writing your letter it is important that you go through it or give someone else to proof read it.

This will help ensure that the copy you send does not have any avoidable mistakes.

By Florence Mukunya

I know you have probably read a thousand articles on how to write a good CV on what to include and what you cannot dare include. But have you ever asked yourself what employers actually look for in a CV?

In any given application an employer is likely to receive from around 500 CVs, says Carolyne Kariuki a Recruitment Manager at Corporate Staffing Services .

“Out of these applications the employer only needs to meet around 15 candidates to determine who is best suited for the job,” She adds

So what do employers really look for in a CV to determine whether you are qualified for the position?

5 Things Employers Look For in a CVs

1. Relevant experience

The first thing that an employer looks for in your CV is relevant work experience. This refers to any past or current hands on experience. Now, the mistake many job seekers make is failing to include some of their past experiences as some tend to favor what they are currently doing either because it pays better or just because they like the company. The number of years you have worked also matters as it’s used to measure the amount of expertise you possess.

Remember, employers are looking for experienced candidates as it saves them time to train and also they know the candidate is likely to bring in some expertise from the companies they are coming from.

2. Companies you have worked for

You might find this not very important, but employers are actually interested on companies you have previous worked with. For example say an employer is in the banking industry, if they are looking for a Sales Representative, they are mostly likely to go with a person who has previously worked as a sales person in the banking industry.

Reason being, the candidates in the industry already possess the knowledge of how the banking industry works.

So the next time you are writing your CV make sure you include the names of the companies you have worked with

3. Consistency

There is no employer who is looking to employ a candidate whose CV does not portray consistency. Now, if you keep changing jobs after every few months the employer might not have confidence in you, Says Ms. Kariuki.

She advises that when writing a CV, candidates should ensure that they point out clearly on the duration they have worked on different companies, that is inclusive of years and months.

For the jobs where one has worked for short periods, for example a contract, she says that one should note in brackets that it was a contract.

4. Age

Well, this might be a point to debate about, but employers are also keen on a candidate’s age. Some positions especially the senior ones are looking for mature people, same goes with entry level jobs, where employers will mostly be looking for young graduates.
When writing your CV ensure you include your age.

5. The CV format

You might agree with me that a good CV may include all the above but then it needs to be put in a neat professional format. Ms Kariuki says that every time she concentrates on well formatted CVs she is sure to get qualified candidates from the batch as opposed to badly done CVs.

She concludes by advising job seekers on keenly scrutinizing their CVs and the jobs they are applying for before making an application. Failure to include details that are relevant to the job will cost you.

She further and gives an example of an employer who is looking for a sage accountant, well, even if you have the experience working with Sage and have not included that on the CV, then employer will just skip your CV to the next.

We are over with the festive and its time to focus on what is important to us this year. Well, if you did not get that job last year do not give up yet, get back to the drawing board and evaluate on where you could have gone wrong and correct as early as now. Here are 5 tips that will help you in getting a job in 2017

1. Have a good CV

A CV is a very important document when it comes to job applications; it’s the document that gets you interviews. It should contain your name and contact details at the top and then list all your work experiences with dates starting with your most recent at the top to the last one position.
It should also include your qualifications and lastly, the CV should have your work achievements and professional affiliation where applicable as this distinguishes you from ordinary job seekers giving you a head start.

2. Apply for the right jobs and at the right time

Just because you did not get a job last year does not mean that you now apply for any job that comes you way. Study the job first, make sure that you match the qualifications the employer is looking for, beyond that make sure that you make the application at the right time which means within the first three days of the advertisement.
Again, it makes no sense in making an application for a perfect job but you do it late when the position is already closed.

3. Reach out to your networks

More than half of the jobs are found through networking and referrals; this means that being in touch with your networks is an important part of finding the right job.

4. You need to prepare for your interview

Well, getting invited for an interview does not mean you got the job, it only means you are a little closer to getting the job and what stand between you and the job is an interview.
It’s very important to prepare for the interview as it increases your chances of getting the job. Carry out a background research on the company, research more on the role, also go a step further and find out what different companies are offering for the position so that you are able to negotiate for the salary.
The importance of interview preparation is that it reduces nervousness during the interview as when you are well prepared you feel more confident.

5. Stop waiting for a dream job

Most graduates wasted the whole of 2016 waiting for the perfect jobs; those big titles in prestigious companies. Truth is, there is nothing that comes easy and you have to start below in order to get to the top of the ladder. So if you get offers for attachment/internships this year, accept the offers as this is where you get experience need to go to the next level.

By Agnes Aineah

Job seekers are taking advantage of new media to make their job search fast and also to keep at par with companies that are using technology to source for employees. Such media platforms include Face book, twitter, LinkedIn and many others. A good LinkedIn profile is bound to turn around your tedious job search so that employers come looking for you.

According to Michael Gacha, Recruitment Assistant at Corporate Staffing Services, it is a common thing for recruiters to use job applicants’ LinkedIn profiles in the course of headhunting for a particular position.

“After I advertise for a particular vacancy I get responses of people expressing their interest to take up the offer couple with many applications. I ensure that I visit each particular job seeker’s LinkedIn profile to check their suitability for the job,” Mr Gacha says.
Mr Gacha says that it is only an impressive LinkedIn profile from an applicant that attracts him to go ahead and extend a job interview invitation.

Here are a few things you need to polish on your LinkedIn profile to make it attractive to employers so that they invite you for a job interview.

Areas To Polish On Your LinkedIn Profile To Get A Job Faster

Unlike other electronic and new media platforms, LinkedIn provides you with an avenue to echo out your relevance in the career field as loud as you can. It goes beyond the CV that limits you to two pages and a cover letter that should be short as well.

Mr Gacha reveals the most important aspects that never escape his scrutiny while headhunting to fill a particular position.

1. Your profile picture
This is the first thing on your LinkedIn profile that you need to polish to show that you are a serious job seeker. It is the first thing that the person viewing your profile sees.

As Florence Mukunya, Career Advisor at Corporate Staffing Services points out, this is not an opportunity for you to use photos that you would otherwise need on social platforms.
“Pick your best official photo, preferable passport size because it is an official platform. Maintain professionalism as much as possible. It is not the time for you to upload selfies,” She says.

2. Your work experience
This is an entry where you fill the places of work you have ever been, the titles you have held and specific roles in your position.

Make your work roles as detailed as possible. Let potential recruiters know your job description by merely looking at your profile. It is the best chance to echo your suitability, so use it. Job seekers err when they only mention their position and just leave it at that so that the person viewing your LinkedIn profile does not know the specific roles you carried out.

For instance, if you were a communications officer at ABC company, go ahead to describe the day to day duties you were charged with while at the company that could include preparing newsletters and press releases, updating the website, representing the company in external functions, taking notes, and so on. Don’t just leave it at Communications Officer.

3. Key words
Wherever there is textual information on your LinkedIn profile, make it as keyword rich as possible. Keywords include terms that are relevant to your career path. Employers are more likely to filter LinkedIn users into the lot they require for a certain vacancy by use of specific search words. Know what your field entails and the relevant jargon that you can use on your profile.

IT jargon for instance is specific to the various professions within the field prompting them to talk about programming, software development, debugging, network architect, cyber security analysis, cyber attacks and so on.

4. Type of people in your circles
LinkedIn is a little more than social sites that people connect with just anyone. For LiknedIn, it should be people mainly relevant to your career goals.

Have people and companies in circles that are bound to add significant to your job search. It is such people that can connect you to a new job or give you relevant career advice.

Even though the number of people in your LinkedIn profile connections make a significant impression to your potential employer, these people are supposed to be those that matter to your job search. Mr Gacha says that he does not pay much attention to the number of connection a job seeker has in their connections.

“It is easy to get people in your connection that you have no idea who they are. Far much easier is to have them endorsing you for skills that you do not have at all. Only skills that match your career path are the ones that I look for when I am narrowing down on specific job’s candidates,” he says.

This could be the time you devoted a little more energy on your LinkedIn profile to get the employers looking for you. Compared to other media platforms, LinkedIn is what recruiters are using more to seek for suitable candidates as companies rush for space on the cutting edge of technology.

By Lilian Wamaitha

A friend of mine once asked me, “Why do I need to pay someone to write a CV for me when I can simply do that on my own? And again CV writing has been there for ages. I just have to pick someone’s CV and customize it to suit my skills and expertise.” You are probably there thinking the same thing. Is it worth paying for CV writing services?

“Please help me. I have been applying for jobs for a whole year now and haven’t gotten shortlisted for a single interview. I’m starting to think that my CV could be the problem. Is it possible to hire your professional CV writing services to have better luck in the job search?” reads an email from Simon in my inbox.

With so many people out there without jobs, the competition for the few vacancies has become real. You have no choice but to make your applications stand out. Florence Mukunya, a CV Writing expert at Corporate Staffing Services, advises job seekers to be unique in their applications. “Don’t just do what others are doing. Times have changed and what may have worked those days may not work in the current job market.” she says.

So having professionals write your CV is very important and here are the reasons.

1. A professional CV brings out your value

A good CV is one that is able to sell your value not necessarily your experience. Professional CV writers are able to move past the cliché and get to what you can really do. After all at the end of the day it all about what you can offer a company not what you have done in the past. It will surprise you how a professionally written CV will position you as a valuable addition to a company not just another IT professional with five years of experience.

2. You can’t be a jack of all trades

Let’s face it; just like you go to a doctor when you are sick or call a mechanic to fix your car, you also need a professional to write your CV. A generic CV that you send to every employer is not doing you any good. Kenyan employers want to see a customized CV that is tailored to the job you are applying for and this is where professional writers come in.

3. Gives you an objective view

When it comes to compiling a CV most of us are clueless about what to put and what to leave out or what to emphasize. A professional CV writer will be able to trim your CV to what is important and put emphasis on the parts that will impress a hiring manager.

4. Times change

You have had that CV that you compiled just before you finished college. Does it mean it will always work for you? You may be the reason why you haven’t landed a serious job up to now. The truth is that times change and that CV may no longer work. Professional CV writers keep up to date through training and certification and are able to tailor your CV to the needs of the current job market.

5. It saves you from job search stress

How many times have you applied for a job and you don’t hear back from the employer? We all know the frustration and stress associated with job rejections . Why then not have a professionally written CV that will guarantee you a short listing?

In summary there are those times that will come that will require you to have a professionally written CV. Ms. Florence says that if your CV isn’t a winner, it’s a killer. Do something about it!

In Washington, D.C., political jobs aren’t hard to come by. But landing one is another story.

I was 25 and in the running for a press secretary position with the Department of Transportation (DOT). These are the people who manage billions in tax dollars and make sure trains, planes, and buses get us from point A to point B in one piece. No biggie.

If you’ve never applied for a job in the realm of politics or the federal government, seven interviews may seem insane, but it actually comes with the territory.

By the final one, I’d already gone through a proverbial ring of fire—each meeting with a higher-level person than the last. But as the stakes rose, I grew more and more relaxed.

I figured for the last one, in which I’d be meeting with the chief of staff, I could finally relax and let my hair down. And although research had been a critical part of my prep up until that point, for the final interview I decided to wing it and didn’t do any. Instead I walked in confident and thought “Ursula, you’ve got this in the bag.”

Except I didn’t.

As you might imagine, when I received the rejection email, I was floored. I emailed the hiring manager who had guided me through the entire process and asked if he’d be willing to give me feedback on where I went wrong and what I can do better in the future.

Because people are busy and many employers aren’t necessarily at liberty to offer feedback, I didn’t expect a response—yet I got one. I’ll tell you this: The truth can be a hard pill to swallow. But after such a long process, I knew constructive criticism would serve me (and hopefully you) well.

1. Never Stop Hustling

I wish I could tell you after seven rounds you can stop hustling and take a load off. Unfortunately, multiple rounds typically mean you’re meeting with people higher and higher on the ladder. For example, your first meeting would never be with the CEO of the company, but your third one very well could be.

The process can be physically and emotionally exhausting, and by my final one, I was spent. But the person I spoke with never should’ve been able to sense that. Whether it’s your first or last meeting, you must maintain the same hunger and level of enthusiasm.

In fact, with each round, you actually need to be more prepared than the next. The same hustle that got you there will keep you there.

2. Always Be Professional

For most of my interviews, I had been meeting with men. When my last (and most important) round rolled around, I was relieved it was with another woman.

Upon meeting this very powerful person at the very top of the ladder, can you guess how I approached our introduction? Did I smile pleasantly, give her a firm handshake, and say “Thank you for meeting with me?”

Did I hand her a folder containing my resume, published press releases, and letters of recommendation?

Nope. Instead, I gushed about the giant engagement ring she had on her finger. I overlooked her rank, what she had done to get there, and focused on a personal fact that was absolutely none of my business.

Yep. I made small talk with the chief of staff. And in doing so, I’d presented myself as unprofessional. And I’d shown a certain amount of disrespect too. It’s OK to go off topic if it seems appropriate. Follow the lead of the person you’re meeting with. Let him or her drive the conversation.

3. Never Go in Unprepared

Confidence is great. But it can be dangerous when you’re walking the fine line between arrogance and confidence. Thanks to the internet, most of the information you need to know about the organization and who you’re meeting with is at your fingertips, but that’s no reason to get smug and assume you’ve got it all figured out.

I researched like crazy early on, but then, as my confidence grew, I started to slack off. I figured I didn’t need to keep trying so hard. Boy, was I wrong. My overconfident attitude led to me being underprepared and not on my toes.

After seven rounds, I learned the career lesson of a lifetime: The details matter. As you move further along in the hiring process, rather than getting comfortable, raise your level of preparedness, awareness, and professionalism. Because hiring managers typically can’t offer individual feedback on your performance, I don’t advise reaching out to them each time you don’t land the position. Instead, take a lesson from my experience and apply it to your next search. Because when the time came for a new round of interviews at a new company, I prepped for all three (not just the first one) and got the job.

Credit :

By Susan Gitonga

Being called for an interview is  the defining stage that determines whether or not  you’ll get a job. After applying for many jobs and finally getting an interview invitation,  it’s safe to say you are almost at the finish line to getting a job, and it’s upon you to finish strong by being your best during the interview.

Sadly,  most people make very grave mistakes on the day of the interview. They neglect very simple instructions  and end up wondering why they were denied the job after sending in good CV’s and having good work experience.

According to Florence Mukunya a CV Writing expert at Corporate Staffing Services, below are the  key areas job seekers neglect and overlook that cost them jobs:

1.Not researching on the Company

We assume that you are very interested in joining the company you have applied for  and it’s obvious that you should show interest by researching on the Company to find out what they’re all about. It’s no surprise that on the day of the interview the employer will ask you a question like, “What do you know about us?”

Unfortunately, very many job seekers attend interviews and when asked simple questions about the company they can’t give solid answers. Research is key and Google is your friend. Find out everything about the company that is related to your job. What services does the company offer? What’s the name of the CEO? When was the Company founded and what’s their vision?

Aim to impress the hiring manager by showing him/her that you are knowledgeable about the company. It shows interest and honest desire to work for them.

For example, you cannot attend an interview at Safaricom and fail to state the services they offer like Mpesa, Internet, Phone Services, or fail to know their brand colors, the CEO and former CEO etc. As a job seeker, not knowing Company information makes you look ignorant and uninterested.

2. Missing the location of the Company

Sometimes you can find a challenge as you try to navigate to the location of  the interview and that’s okay. The problem arises when you get lost on the day of the interview and you fail to inform your interviewer because of fear or ignorance. You end up arriving late and you find the employer quite disappointed and ready to dismiss you.

Employers and hiring managers take the issue of time very seriously.

A job seeker called Mercy was attending an interview and she could not get the correct location of the Company.  She wasted a whole hour looking for the Company building instead of calling to report that she was lost. She ended up in the wrong Company, which happened to be a competitor to the Company she was supposed to be at. The receptionist had to call the correct company on her behalf to confirm if she was scheduled for an appointment with them.

On reaching the correct Company, she found an angry employer who could not take sorry for an answer to why she got lost.The employer insisted that she should have called to say that she was stranded. She ended up having a lot of convincing to do as the employer was ready to dismiss her.

That said, confirm the location before hand and in case you’re lost, call the Company to inform them and to ask for clear directions.

3. Not following instructions in the Email

Instructions may be indicated in an invitation Email of an interview that may include the following:

  • Carry your CV and original documents
  • Carry your pay slips

All these are instructions that may accompany the email inviting you for  an interview and sometimes job seekers overlook the importance of carrying the documents asked, on the day of the interview.

The employer makes out that you are not interested in the job and you are not keen on simple instructions.

Therefore, pay close attention to the email sent by your employer and present yourself on the day with all the required items.

4. Not going through your CV

This is where most people blunder during an interview, according to a HR expert in Nairobi. People confidently walk into an interview without mastering and understanding the content on their CV’s. When asked a very simple question from their  CV, they can’t answer it.

A good example is where a candidate indicates that they worked in a firm/organization for 5 months and a question is thrown at them about their role in the company for those 5 months and they stammer.

This leaves the employer in utter surprise as they fail to understand how you cannot answer your own work experience history. An outright disqualification.

In another scenario, you may have had your CV  professionally done for you by a CV Writing expert like Florence Mukunya and you end up getting called for an interview.

You forget that you did not write the CV and you fail to comprehend all the information on the new well done copy. When a question is tossed from the CV, you mumble beneath your breath because you have not internalized the information on it.

With that in mind, regardless of a professional working on your CV  , you need to take some time to understand it, so that you can be in a position to answer any questions during the interview.

Also ensure that you marry the content of the CV you applied with and the one you carry on the day of the interview. They should be identical so that you and the employer can flow seamlessly as you go through your qualifications.

5. Not researching on salary

For interview’s sake, never attend an interview you intend to pass and get a job,  without knowing:

  1. What salary to ask for
  2. How to ask and negotiate

Not only is it ignorant, but very dangerous. One of the most obvious questions you’ll be asked during an interview is, “How much should we pay you?.”  It’s therefore  very important for you to carry out your research beforehand so that you can state your fair salary expectations.

The downside of not knowing what to ask is that the employer might end up giving you a salary range that is below what he intended to give you, out of your ignorance.

Do your research.

And there you have it 5 mistakes that can cost you your dream job.

You hate your job and can’t wait to be anywhere else—except twist, you have to stay for at least a little while longer. Maybe the hours allow you to care for a sick loved one, that promotion you’re in line for will set you up to qualify for different roles, or that quarter-end bonus is going to help you finally get out of credit card debt.

So, right now, your job search is a lot of hurry-up and wait. You want to be ready the very moment you can start applying, but right now, you have to bide your time.

Here’s how to be proactive—and patient—so you can strike when it’s time:

1. Revamp Your Resume

When’s the last time you updated your resume? When you applied for your current role? If so, it’s time for an update.

Many people wait to revise materials until they’re about to submit a job application, because they want to customize them for each role. While tailoring your resume is an important step, it’s actually the second one you should take. The first—and often overlooked—one is to create a resume you can send anywhere.

It helps you in two ways. One, you’ll have a strong, current jumping off point when you are ready to customize it. And two, if someone asks you to simply “send on your resume” the moment you share that you’re looking, you’ll have something to ready to go.

2. Polish Your Personal Brand

Need yet another reason to set up a personal website, start publishing on LinkedIn, or take on some other brand-boosting activity you’ve been putting off?

When it’s actually time to pound the pavement and send in numerous applications, odds are you’ll be too busy to also build a personal site or write a blog post, too. Additionally, hiring managers are more impressed by actions over time than the appearance that you became interested in being a thought leader the day before you sent in your materials for that new job.

So, start publishing now, it’ll pay off when you have weeks (or months) of work to your credit.

3. Warm Up Your Network

Sure, you can’t ask for a referral yet; but you don’t want “Can you get me a job?” to be the first thing you say to someone after you’ve fallen out of touch anyhow. If it’s been a while, make an initial effort to reconnect by sending on an interesting article or a note to see how the other person is doing. Bonus: The holidays are a great excuse to get back in touch!

Keep in mind, you don’t want to jump from ghost to stalker. It’ll seem insincere (and slightly bizarre) if you go from no contact in three years to suddenly messaging that person at your dream company each week like you’re BFFs.

Additionally, you don’t want to wholly bury why you’re reaching out—at the risk of seeming like you’re leading them on. So, while you may not be ready to announce that you’ll be looking for a new job, you can mention that you’re interested in learning more about the other person’s industry or role, and ask if you could send on a few questions. This positions you perfectly to ask further questions (like insider tips for getting a job!) when you are ready to start your search.

When you don’t like your job, it’s understandable that you’d want to spend your free time on hobbies, and wait to job search until you can actually make a move. However, taking these actions now will help you hit the ground running when you are ready to look—so you land a new role that much faster once the time is right. Not to mention, they’ll help you stay sane, too, because while you’re still stuck at your job by day, by night you’re already preparing for that role of your dreams.

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Throughout our careers, we may find ourselves in a role that takes more from us than it gives in terms of money, happiness, or energy–sometimes, it’s all three.

At first, waning job satisfaction might not be noticeable, clouded by day-to-day demands and expectations. But at some point, though, you become aware that you’re surviving–not thriving–at work.

Maybe you no longer believe in the mission or identify with your co-workers. Your enthusiasm dwindles.

Regardless of what causes the realization, you know one thing for certain: A change is necessary. Maybe it’s time for a new position. It’s more likely, however, that you’re ready for an entirely new career.

But finding a new job, let alone a dream job, can be tricky. For example, making time to interview is tough when you’re balancing a heavy workload or traveling all the time. Not to mention, changing careers can be hard when you’re facing burnout brought on by your current position.

It’s a paradox many career changers face: How do you tackle a major transition when your time is nil and your energy levels are already low?

This dilemma’s often accompanied by the temptation to opt for a quick solution: find a position in the same field at a different company. While these options are attractive in the moment, you’ve got to resist the urge to skip over the important work called self-evaluation. Unless you stop and take an honest look at what’s causing your unhappiness, you’re likely to repeat history wherever you go.

However, by taking small steps and tending to your emotional well-being throughout the process, you can make a successful transition.

Shore Up Your Emotional Reserves

If your job’s drained you to the point of burnout, lifting yourself out of your career rut and back into a positive place is the first task at hand.

Like other emotional stressors, burnout responds to reframing. Shifting into a growth mindset helps you see possibilities where there once were only dead ends.

When the going gets tough, and you doubt your ability to manage a career change amidst a daunting workload, try taking the perspective of a good mentor. What advice would you give to another overworked person in your shoes? How would you advise a burnt-out friend?

The best answers often come from within and it’s likely you already know where to start: Give yourself permission to take your time. Big decisions, such as leaving a job or deciding to strike out on your own can and should be thoughtful and deliberate. Assure yourself that you can and will take action, and that once you do, things will get better.

Ask Yourself the Important Questions

It’s all too easy to blow through life on auto-pilot, never spending time honestly exploring what you really want in a career. But people don’t succeed by migrating to a particular industry or job. They thrive by exploring their strengths, motivations, likes, and dislikes.

To ensure that you forge ahead based on a thoughtful appraisal (rather than blindly following what you think others say you “should” be doing) employ an honest self-evaluation. Ask yourself questions such as:

  • What would I rather be investing my time and energy in?
  • What is my personal mission?
  • What are my top three values?
  • What pivotal experiences have made me who am I today?
  • What obstacles stand in the way of me making a career change?
  • What strengths can I draw on during my transition?

These big, open-ended questions are specifically designed to provoke creative thinking and help you get in touch with the roots of your personal preferences and natural drives. You won’t arrive at the answers overnight, but the more you think about them, the more you’ll gain the clarity you need to get unstuck and move forward with your transition.

Stop Second-Guessing Yourself

Often, when you’re forced to make a decision that pushes you beyond your comfort zone, fear rears its head. You may worry about the future or become preoccupied with whether you’re making the right decision. At times, you’ll probably face self-doubt and wonder whether things at work are really as bad as you’re making them out to be.

This is an example of a thought trap known as the sunk-cost bias. In short, this is simply our innate loss aversion popping up. We mistakenly rationalize that because so much has been invested in our current path, to change course now would be a waste. But the truth is, the cost of doing nothing–of staying in a job that depletes you–is much higher. Studies show that sticking it out despite your unhappiness leads to emotional exhaustion, illness, and burnout.

Instead of dwelling on what you’ll lose, imagine a career that makes you feel challenged, happy, and fulfilled. If that vision looks, feels, and sounds better, shift your efforts away from focusing on sunk costs and look toward your new trajectory.

Act, Don’t Intellectualize

While the process of clarifying your values and your strengths is important, these discoveries are useless without follow through. Action is the antidote to self-doubt.

Rather than overthinking what you should do to pursue your passion, look for low-risk, micro-learning opportunities that you can accomplish in the few spare hours that you do have. You can start as small as joining a Twitter chat hosted by an organization you’re interested in or committing to sending one email a week to a someone whose career path you admire. Maybe, if you can find the time, you volunteer on the weekends to test drive a new role.

This experimental approach helps you take incremental steps toward a career change in little time without a ton of effort. In the process, you may make connections with inroads to your dream job, short-cutting the traditional (read: long and draining) interview process. You’ll also gain a better sense of answers to questions like: Do I enjoy this work? Do I want to pursue this path further? What other opportunities am I curious about?

I won’t kid you and say that discovering your career happiness formula–the trifecta of finding what you’re good at, what you find meaningful, and what gets you paid–happens overnight. Or that it’s simple and easy, especially when you’re already under a lot of stress.

As long as you’re vigilant about maintaining healthy boundaries and are ruthless with self-care, you can make it through this transition time. In fact, you may find that as your strengths come into alignment with your work, you’ll gain energy and momentum along the way. That’s the difference between a job that drains you and one that lights you up.

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