In Kenya, nepotism is not new; in fact it has been and continues to be one of the biggest barriers for Kenyan job seekers seeking their ideal job.
There have been many signs of nepotism in the political class that has shown how ingrained nepotistic practices are in our communities. I remember one of my friends who asked me to accompany him while he dropped off his cv’s before going for lunch together; and I got shocked when the HR person asked him “who has sent you?”, my friend said “I am just looking for a job”, and HR returned with “who do you know in the company?”.
This little exchange makes me sad. The HR had not even looked at the qualification of this applicant, being only concerned about the influence that potential applicants can apply through their ‘Connection’ in the company.
Most Kenyans will not be shocked by this exchange as it is a regular occurrence between potential employers and employees in the big and more so in the small cities in Kenya. Job seekers who are disheartened will themselves tell you their despair is because “I don’t know anyone in the company”, “there’s nobody to push for my cv to be seen”. What is in job seekers mind that without “connection” you can’t have a chance in getting a job in Kenya?
How to overcome Nepotism
There are changes being implemented in employment practice to root out problems like nepotism, however this will take years to feel its impact. And therefore today’s and even tomorrows jobseekers will be affected by ongoing nepotistic practice as it remains a reality. Jobseekers will have to actively overcome this barrier rather than complain about its unfairness.
You might be saying, “Enock, it’s not easy to face up an employer and telling them that I am the best person for that job position. Looking for a job while encountering nepotism can be really discouraging. What can I do to increase my chances to getting a job?”
Well, my response would be; you can’t fight nepotism single handed, it will just drain you. It’s already hard enough that you are facing problems in even reaching the interview stage, let alone nepotism.
Build your own network
As human beings and employers, it is natural that we want to work with people whom we can trust, have a good track record and be comfortable with. How can you meet this need in your future employer without the kinship? One thing that has worked for me is that I work hard to build my own network that can be of benefit to the business. I know that I will face nepotism along the way but I make sure that I have done all I can to put myself in a better position.
For me to get my business expertise in front of the big clients like Samsung, KIWI, ESET, KRA, I had to go through PR companies, Bloggers Association of Kenya (BAKE) which were the gateway to reaching the big corporations. I had to build a networking that can be trusted by PR companies, which meant they gave me access/recommended to their big companies clientele. When a campaign or piece of work came along that matched my expertise, they would refer them to me. Far from being nepotistic, this is how the modern business world works.
Where to start
You can use social media to follow leaders of companies that you want to work for; what are they passionate about, what are their dreams and future plans; showing support for their plans/views or interacting with them on this platform. This is an opportunity to build a relationship and showcase yourself to a potential employer without the pressure of an active recruitment process. You don’t have to necessarily follow the CEO, but even HR manager since that will be the person who will most likely interview you when that opportune day arrives.
Visit expos, exhibits like the agricultural shows which are hosted throughout the country. Big and small companies bring their staff to showcase their businesses during these events, giving you ample opportunity to get known and know the inner workings of the organization.
Also, by joining Fuzu you get a platform where you can present your skills and experience directly to the employer. In short, you can overcome Nepotism by actively demonstrating that you are a trustworthy partner or employee in your own network.
Article By Enock Kiprono