Job seekers present their credentials to potential employers? representatives at the Rwanda Job Day fair in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)
Job seekers present their credentials to potential employers? representatives at the Rwanda Job Day fair in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)

Unfortunately, to most of the employers that turned up, the smart looks of many of the jobless young people was not enough to get them that sought-after nod from recruiters.

Job seekers present their credentials to potential employers? representatives at the Rwanda Job Day fair in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)
Job seekers present their credentials to potential employers? representatives at the Rwanda Job Day fair in Kigali yesterday. (Timothy Kisambira)

Why?

?Most of these people actually have the qualifications but they just can?t express themselves to an employer; many let themselves down,? said Jean Rene Shema, the East Africa programme manager of Global Health Partners.

Shema and his colleagues had come to the Rwanda Job Day with hopes of finding the right personnel to fill about 10 positions of paid fellowship for the Rwanda office and a dozen others for Rwandans who would be based in the US.

By 11am, he had received dozens of resumes but his expectations far from met, the team continued hunting until evening when the event closed.

Lacking resume

In one cover letter that Shema received, the candidate had sought to impress the employer with a long tale of his family background, the village and entire family tree.

?But the details of one?s family are not needed, the recruiter has just seven seconds to look at your resume to be impressed or not, so keep it brief and to the point,? said the recruiter.

A good question would be that, how is it possible for graduates who have passed with flying colours not to be able to write a good resume and a simple marketing story of themselves?

?We talk about skills but job seekers are lacking even the softest of the skills that would impress the employer, say how you express yourself or dress, it could make the difference,? said Davin Nuwagira, an internal business partner with NFT consult, a regional recruiting firm.

Patrick Gashagaza, the managing partner of GPO Partners Rwanda Ltd, was on the hunt for an accounting officer, someone with experience.

However, experience is a sticky subject, especially for first-time job seekers who have always wondered where employers expect them to have obtained the practice while at school.

?It?s not us who demand experience, we are a firm that consults for clients and these require high standards worth their money,? said Alice Umutoni, a tax specialist at GPO.

Experience, skills and self-expression are just a few elements of the long list of requirements that recruiters have to tick off before they make their pick. But are these features that Rwandan graduates lack?

?No,? said Ines Manzi, the associate director of operations at the Carnegie Mellon University in Rwanda.

Manzi thinks that there are smart Rwandan graduates who have these skills and moreover obtained from the same local universities that others like to castigate for not doing enough to shape students.

?I graduated from University of Rwanda?s College of Science and Technology in 2003, and went through a competitive process to get this job. I think as graduates, we might also want to do a bit of self improvement to boost our chances of getting jobs,? she said.

At Carnegie for instance, Manzi says the university ensures that students get enough trial time with reputable companies through internship placements which helps them know what exactly employers are looking for, ahead of time.

At the EcoBank desk, a long line of jobless youth stood waiting for their chance to speak to the bank?s representative. A couple of positions were up for grabs but the official said most of the resumes were not attractive.

?Too long and unappetising resumes, its vital for candidates to summarise their story,? said the banker.

Broken hearts

In the invitation letter from the organisers of the day, Job Rwanda (an online recruiting agency), the boys were told to come with at least 20 copies of their resumes to give out to employers.

At the venue, the boys, smartly dressed in black suits, were looking their Sunday best each clutching a thick brown envelope containing copies of their resumes.

The day ended with mixed results for most of the young people who showed up. Others left happy, others disappointed.

Yet that is the ordeal of job hunting that hundreds of thousands of young Rwandan graduates have to endure before lady luck smiles back.

The government target under the second Economic Development and Poverty Reduction Strategy is the creation of 200,00 new jobs a year.

By Kenneth Agutamba, The New Times

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