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The best time to apply for a job

Job seekers line up to meet with a recruiter during a job fair/AFP

Job seekers line up to meet with a recruiter during a job fair/AFP

I was recently invited as a guest speaker in a job preparedness workshop. The workshop objective was to equip fresh graduates with job search skills. Among the topics covered were CV writing, interviewing skills and how to successfully apply for jobs.

There was one common question with the participants. The majority wanted to know whether there was a right time to apply for a job. Specifically, they wanted to know whether it was okay to apply immediately when you become aware of a vacancy or to wait until the notice is about to expire.

When it comes to job search, you have to keep abreast with the trends.  One of the changes that has taken place in the last decade is that over 90 percent of Kenyan employers are now demanding that job applications be sent online. This is either by way of candidates sending their applications via email or filling an online form. It’s only the public service and a few firms that are yet to embrace technology and are still insisting on hard copies.

You also have to be conscious that employers are taking a shorter time to fill vacancies. The main reason being that technology has made it easier to receive and process applications. When it was hard copies, employers had to wait until they got many applications and only then would they start the long manual process of going through the envelopes. Now, all they have to do is check an email and if they are enough applications, they start short listing. This is a task that can be performed by one person thus saving on time and allowing the process to move faster.

There’s also the issue of having many job seekers in the market. Unlike the early 2000 where the number of graduates was low, nowadays we have thousands of graduates. It is estimated that every year, we have over 70,000 new graduates. This means that they are many employees chasing fewer opportunities.

We can have as many as 2,000 applicants for some job adverts and the tragedy is that we are only looking for one candidate.  No wonder, some of you keep asking why they don’t receive interview invites. The truth is, they are too many applicants qualified for the job and job seekers have to come up with creative ways of getting noticed. I will address this issue of how to become visible in a competitive market in a different article.

With this in mind, we can comfortably answer our question on when is the right time to apply for a job. To ensure that you stand a chance of being shortlisted, apply as soon as you become aware of the advert. This will work in your favor should an employer start processing applicants as they receive them.

You also stand a chance to beat the competition. You will be ahead of the crowd that waits for the last minute. As a recruiter, we process applications as we receive them. It’s no surprise to find out that a job has already been filled within the duration indicated for sending applications.

Even as you strive to apply for jobs, my advice is for you to ensure that your documents are in order. Ensure that your CV is tailored for the job. You also need to have a cover letter that explains why you are the best candidates by providing more details that may not be on your CV.

Remember to follow employer’s instructions. If they have asked for salary details, do provide.

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As you can see, getting a job invite sometimes has more to do with the process and steps taken than your qualifications and skills. You can be the best candidate for the job, but if an employer doesn’t get a chance to review your application, then it doesn’t count much.

Perminus Wainana has over ten years experience in human resource management working with employers from different sectors. His major goal is to build relationships with employers in order to gain a better understanding of their recruitment needs and meet the requirements in a cost effective and timely manner. Email

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