You Need Connections in Kenya...and Other Lies

You Need Connections in Kenya...and Other Lies

The Kenyan job market has slowly but surely changed right before our very eyes in the past decade. As a member of several WhatsApp groups, I have witnessed first-hand the frustration of Kenyans who are currently in the job market, about to enter the job market, and those who have been in the job market so long that certain biases lie cemented in their psyche. 

The general consensus seems to be that jobs are hard to come by in Kenya despite having all the qualifications needed, A phrase you will often hear whispered (sometimes shouted) in the hallways is that “In Kenya, you can’t get anywhere without connections-it’s WHO you know…”. 

Well, it's difficult to give someone a job in Kenya, at least that's the hard way I learned it. Everybody has their own bitter story when it comes to job searching especially in third-world countries where attaining a degree is as useless as finishing the fourth grade.

Fake Promises

In Kenya, we all have that uncle who encouraged us to hard in school and promised to help us on the job market. In fact, they really had sweet words, "Jobs are just phone calls away, it should not worry you or ensure you get good grades, the rest leave unto me or you won't tarmack, I'll hold your hand until you get a well-paying job." The statements make your heart melt, go to school assuming you've already made it. You love to hear the stories more and more. Whenever you're home you want to pay them a visit just to be re-assured the sweet lullabies. 

Then. Then! Comes the day you graduate, there are all showers praises, everyone sends the congratulatory messages and you feel flattered. But one thing you don't realize at this moment is that the good uncles are not sending the messages. They are either too busy or have been away for some time. You still understand. Right? Yes, that's how it happened to me, I understood. I promise you the disappointment won't come yet because the day you'll realize their conspicuous absence and decide to ask them, it will be soothing still. Unfortunately, the answer is never a 'NO' so you should start sorting yourself early. It is always, I am working on it. And you believe that? Yes, what option do you have at now because you've otherwise sent over a thousand CVs but the email back is always we are sorry but we cannot even tell you why we won't give you the job.

You feel gutted, dejected, disappointed, and wasted when it is only time passing by the uncle is yet to come with good news. It is one year down the line. Yes, you heard me right, it is one year and there is no job yet; even though the jobs were just phone calls away. By now, if you're in my shoes you've sent a thousand resumes to companies. You know nobody in these companies but you've been trying your luck in vain. Well, it's time you stopped living in a dream. My time came and I said to hell with my uncles and let my reign begins. Solo. Yes, you know how the economy may be fierce; there are ferocious lions ready to engulf you to death. I am telling you the next thing you're going to see in your life is how much is rat poison or some kitchen knife to take your life away. Depression they call it, it's the last stage of death. If you asked me what percent of Kenyans are employed. Well, they say it's about 47% and what about the youths, now that is the headache, it is a massive 80% and the leaders know it but they can do nothing. The unemployed figures translate to a 90% of depressed people. I mean, if 10m (ten million) youths are not engaged then 9m (nine million) of them are depressed.

Cure for depression in such a case

Well, the obvious answer is you to go and see a doctor - or a psychiatrist because you're insane, funny huh? And they follow their processes. But is that a lasting solution? If the doctor doesn't give you a job, how sure is the doctor that depression won't recur? In fact, for people who have been treated for depression, the next time it attacks, they commit suicide straight. Now, apart from the doctor, the next cure for depression is drugs. Stressed people will turn to abusing hard drugs just to take away the feeling of joblessness and lack of money. If they use these drugs, then the next thing you can guess. If they don't drink to death, they will turn to crimes like robbery or prostitution without any guilt. That makes sense, if you're not the type to commit suicide, would you accept to die while you can slip something from your neighbor without paying a dime. The next time you'll be on the street carrying guns and you'll be rich in the end. Perhaps richer than your uncle. Doing night shift jobs without sweating. A really well-paying job in Kenya. You will be targeting the rich and grabbing their gold and silver or iPhones and then selling mercilessly at prices you don't care about as long as you get your energy paid back. Well, now what is the best way to avoid depression or stress? It is by getting a well-paying job! But again how do you get a legitimate job without someone holding your hand or the so-called Godfathers.

How to get a job without a God-father

We all know these people are to be worshipped. I mean at least if they gave you Kes 200 for a meal while on the campus. You pay them back by singing their song every morning. But it's now time to show them your back and your own self:

1. Identify your talent: You and I agree that talent pays more than any other career. Look at Olympic winners, marathon runners, or lucrative football. Look at soccer players like Messi, Carlos Tevez, and Cristiano. But the reality is you might not be able to reach their levels but at least if you can reach a bare minimum you will be ok. Or be a musician.

2. Polish your weakness: if it's a carelessly written CV, then try to be serious with it at least for once. Get your friend to go through it and correct any mistakes that might be in it.

3. Try to prove your abilities in the job market or to the employers: When in interview sessions or in front of an employer, get them to understand your abilities and not your past problems or situation. They might consider you based on that.

4. Avoid a life you cannot afford. That is self-explanatory. Avoid your best friend if he tries to make you look like the sons of the rich people who have grown in wealth.

5. Volunteer for internships or community projects; you never know. You will have a chance to prove yourself to employers that you can do a decent job.

6. Search for jobs and apply: Don't tire up. Don't be the one that leaves before midnight only to realize it was your turn but now it's spilled milk.

Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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