Despite the frustrations of finding a new job, there are things you can do to stay marketable and increase your chances of getting work when you are jobless

Hundreds of thousands of unemployed Kenyans have given up looking for work. Data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that up to 1.23 million people are no longer looking for work. The majority of these are young Kenyans aged between 20 and 29 years.

According to Jacqueline Mugo, the Federation of Kenya Employers (FKE) Executive Director, this sad reality is a reflection of the economy. “So long as businesses are not back to full recovery and people are facing uncertainties, and more people are out of work, job seekers will continue to realise that their chances of getting an opening are very slim,”

Ms. Mugo noted recently. Despite the frustrations of finding a new job, there are things you can do to stay marketable and increase your chances of getting work when you are jobless.

Accept and move on fast

Losing your job will elicit mixed reactions. You might panic, or feel hopeless and afraid that you won’t get another job. You may also feel exhilarated that you’re no longer bound to a routine. This can cause you to sink into a comfort zone when you neither look for work nor worry about your bills. You need to acknowledge these emotions to avoid falling apart. “If you have been laid off together with your colleagues, form a group to share job leads. If you have been laid off alone, you may want to seek professional help if you feel overwhelmed and unable to cope,” says Ken Munyua, a psychologist and human resource recruiter at People-Centric.

Open up about your job loss
There is shame in telling people you have lost your job. Talking about your job loss will pave the way for you to ask for job leads from your network. But don’t seek pity. For instance, says HR recruitment consultant Felix Gathu, if you attend an event and are asked, ‘What do you do?’ instead of telling a lie, simply tell about your skills and state that you are currently looking for an opportunity.

“You can also start by shooting an email. Start with a mass email that excludes your former bosses, mentors, and people you think can have a job lead,” he says. Gathu adds that your email should be brief. It should contain your work experience, what you are looking for, and your skillset. When targeting potential customers, first identify the type of clients you serve and the services you offer. Then divide your customers into clusters based on their spending power. These clusters can include corporates, small businesses, and individuals.

Using social media
Whatsapp Status : Periodically share about your skills and the jobs you have done in the past on your status. This should include posters about what you do, photos of you at work, and completed tasks. For example, if you are an architect, share posters of buildings you have drawn, and construction sites you have supervised.

These photos and posters must be accompanied by your contact details. Don’t use the same photos and posters. Rotate them to create the impression of demand. In the ‘About’ section, list your qualifications. Be brief and to the point. For example, if you are a plumber, you may say, ‘I’m a Kenya Industrial Training Institute Trained and Accredited Plumber!’

Facebook : There is a section on WhatsApp that allows you to share your status on Facebook. Make use of this free tool. “Consider changing your name or adding your profession to your name on social media. You may consider using the name you’re popularly known by together with your profession,” says Gathu. For example, if you are a plumber, you can start calling yourself James the Plumber, of James wa Plumbing. If you are an electrician, you can start calling yourself James wa Stima. Also, make a habit of sharing photos of your work on your Facebook timeline. To create variety, regularly offer tips based on what you do. For example, if you are a salonist, you can share photos of different hairstyles, and the dos and don’ts tips of maintaining hair. If you are an electrician, you can share tips on how to manage power, or how to ensure electronics last long without consuming too much power. If you are an architect, you can share tips on how to save money when building. “To gain traction, you will need to boost your numbers. Sharing your posts on social media groups without spamming will help give your page visibility,” says Monicah Njoroge who is a social media manager.

LinkedIn : This has become a hotspot for people seeking workers. Create your profile and ‘Follow’ other professionals in your field of work, and potential employers. Your profile should contain your qualifications, job experience, and customer testimonials. There is also an area on LinkedIn where you can share the tips you share on your Facebook timeline.

Instagram : This is where you can use videos and photos of your work, and posters. Create a good following, be professional and decent.

Old school cards
Go to a cyber café and make cards you can pass on to potential customers. The cards shouldn’t be bulky or verbose. State your qualifications, state that you’re affordable and reliable, and indicate your contacts. “Do not forget to include your business tagline. Find a design and font that is easy on the eye and a catchy tagline,” says Gathu. For example, if you are a plumber, you can use any of the following taglines; ‘Affordable rates, Outstanding services!’… ‘Professional, affordable plumbing’… ‘Plumbing installs, repairs and upgrades done right!’… ‘The plumber you can count on.’

Takeaway soft skills
Create a reputation for reliability and affordability : Being unreliable is the quickest way to stay jobless. Word travels fast and one badly served client could lead to a streak of no clients. “Be reliable, affordable, and deliver quality services. If you say you will attend to Client ABC on Friday at 2 pm, be there,” says Munyua. If your work is technical and involves visiting people’s homes, don’t be the itchy finger.
Take care of your grooming : Whatever you do for a living, be presentable. Be clean. Trim your nails, utilise oral hygiene. You don’t have to dress in dirty overalls just because you are a plumber, mechanic, electrician, or trucker. You can choose something more professional and presentable such as a ‘lab coat’ with your business logo.

Get your pricing right : This is especially critical where you expect referrals. Don’t be sneaky about prices. At the same time, be cautious not to either overcharge or undercharge. This means that you should not be way above the market or unreasonably cheap.

Don’t be choosy : There is no job that is too small to be ignored. Take any job that comes your way and build your customer network.
Collaborate : Don’t be an island. Network with as many people in your profession as is possible. This is where you are likely to find job leads and job offers.

Story courtesy: Nation