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The two main factors employers look for in Kenyan graduate candidates

Every year, 50,000 graduates join the Kenyan job market chasing after (very) limited vacancies. But for the smart ones, the job search doesn’t start after the graduation day.

According to a study released by Corporate Staffing Services, employers look for experience. Not news, we know. But the 205 employers surveyed, leadership experience and volunteering experience rank highest when assessing candidates for entry level jobs.

“The majority of the employers (64.3%) consider leadership experience and volunteering experience (60.7%) very highly when looking to hire fresh graduates. Such graduates are found to be outspoken, team players, flexible and take initiative,” reveals the study released yesterday.

Graduates bemoan the ‘experience’ requirement in every job opening but the common assumption is that the recruiter is looking for employment experience. What most graduates often overlook is the ‘relevant work experience’ part and rule out their in-campus experience.

Top graduates

Perminus Wainana, MD Corporate Staffing Services, explains that employers are looking for a differentiator or the edge one candidate has over other.

If you are the AIESEC Chairman, Christian Union treasurer, student council organizing secretary or even a class rep, you are already ahead of many other candidates, so don’t downplay your role in your CV or in an interview.

“Those who volunteer already understand basic employers expectations and office etiquette and behavior,” says the report.

Students that have interned in a formal organization have an extra advantage, as long as they make the best out of the internship opportunity.

READ: Internships: How to get the experience you need

For the straight A students, only 53% consider educational attainment when hiring while 49.4% look at involvement of the fresh graduate in extracurricular activities.

“A university degree certificate can open doors, but without a rich learning experience underpinning the degree, it cannot translate to an employment opportunity,” says Wainana.

For the very talented candidates, the Hiring: Trends, Challenges & Future Outlook study says employers are fighting for the highly skilled and resourceful employees, willing to pay 2-5 times the current salary to poach them.

So what should job seekers do?

“University graduates need to acquire leadership skills, volunteer experience and participate in extra-curricular activities before getting into the job market. They need to be all-rounded; team players, have people skills, self initiative among other soft skills,” says the quarterly report.

STUDY: Strathmore, UoN graduates most preferred by employers 

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