BY VICTOR ADAR
As lack of jobs continue to be a major concern in most countries, James Watare, a HR consultant, project manager and career coach, says having a professional CV is one thing but how to use it to search for jobs is another thing all together.
The bulk of job seekers, he says, write unprofessional resumes with the thought that this will attract employers. In the long run they end up not getting feedback, which is seemingly the highest standard of rejection.
Mr Watare was attached to the advisory department at Ernst & Young (EY) where he managed senior consultants who had been hired by the firm to work on a government project that was being done in all ministries and counties – their focus was mainly on organization development and institutional review of county and ministry structures dubbed “capacity assessment and rationalization program for the public service”. This is where he got the motivation to establish Executive Jobs Hub, a HR firm.
Some of the career branding services the company offers include CV revamp, LinkedIn optimization, interview coaching, entry to the job market, career progression, cover writing among others. For employers, it offers full cycle recruiting for both contract and fulltime roles, modern sourcing strategies and approaches, head hunting, HR audit as well as organisation development. These services, he says, had initially not picked up well but are now gaining momentum.
“I’m a human resource enthusiast,” he says. “I’m very passionate about helping job seekers. This is mainly because I’ve realized that many of them are qualified but they lack adequate skills to stand out of the crowd and be noticed by employers.”
His contract with EY ended in 2015 after which he was engaged in short term contracts with various Non-Governmental Organizations on need basis. Before he entered the business arena, he conducted research on areas that normally let people down when it comes to winning jobs.
He would create Executive Jobs Hub, a Facebook group meant to inspire job seekers, especially young people, to get decent jobs and rise up to executive level (popular as C-suite), as well as brand professionals to get their dream job at C-suite level. Actually, the group is for all job seekers including young people, those who want to change career and other individuals, who find that platform useful, are always free to join, especially those who are already employed but want to move to higher positions.
The idea came up in late 2016. Early that year Mr Watare had created a page with resource for career branding called Project Innovation Hub Associates – it contains free resources and is updated regularly with articles ranging from job opening ideas in Kenya to aptitude test questions, interview tips and ATS (Application Tracking System) compliant CV tips, LinkedIn optimization and career progression, among many others.
In 2017, he started the actual project by marketing on Facebook, where he opened the Executive Jobs Hub page. From there hence forth, the page has grown tremendously. He says it has approximately 39,000 members at the moment. At the back of his mind, while still engaged on short-term contract something kept on telling him that there is a better path he should take to help the young generation and struggling professionals who want to transit to C-suite.
Mr Watare struggled to land a decent job after school probably because there was nobody to guide him in job searching. That’s why he decided to set up a firm, Executive Jobs Hub, with an aim of helping stop this kind of nightmare many job seekers go through. Memories of how, in the beginning, he was broke with only a laptop, which he used at home, are still fresh on his mind. He didn’t have any capital.
“I was just trying my luck, with the belief that I can also make a change to the current status quo of our current job market. In my account I had only a few savings remaining to pay my rent and for survival. What kept me going was being optimistic and believing in myself,” he says.
He believes that when people are well coached on how to undergo the interview process, the root to take with their skills, how to build a good CV that can attract potential employers, how to write good cover letters and ensure they optimize their LinkedIn, then they cannot fail to achieve their dreams.
“When we started, I could get an average of Sh3000 per week but currently our average is Sh120, 000. I believe that the figures are going to rise day by day as a result of increase in demand for our services. In a week we get at least three testimonies from the clients who contact us after receiving a job offer. We believe there are many more who get good offers but don’t get back to us. This is because we have referrals from our previous clients who landed on good jobs but did not get back to us
themselves,” he says.
He is behind a company which has identified a major gap on use of LinkedIn and after a thorough research have noticed with a lot of concern that 70% of job seekers’ profiles are dormant and communicating nothing about their profession. This is despite the fact that employers and recruiters use LinkedIn to find potential candidates. If the profile is optimized, he points out, the job seeker will be found but unfortunately that’s not the case. Many job seekers are losing opportunities to get their dream job.
Initially, the executive jobs man worked in a small office and was doing most of the work by himself. But in the coming month (November), he is planning to move to a bigger office and employ more people who will cater for the increasing number of clients. His aim is to reach more employers and advertise more jobs so that young people can get employed and get to transit from junior professionals, and land their dream job. He signs up an average of 30 clients per week especially for career branding (CV revamping, LinkedIn, optimization and cover letter) and interview coaching, and once in a while gets a chance to recruit for companies.
With a higher diploma in human resource management from IHRM, a Bachelor of Science degree from Kenyatta University and Masters from Moi University, he has interesting pointers about recruitment. In terms of skills, he has unique blend for he is well experienced in project management, monitoring and evaluation (by profession). On realizing the potential in young people out here, it dawned on him that if they are not well guided, they will not achieve their dreams. This is despite the great efforts they put to ensure that they earn a living.
In the society today, young generation are the less privileged when it comes to job acquisition. The Executive Job Hub targets them mainly while also mentoring managers and those in senior positions on how to transit to executive level. Owing to the fact he is well conversant with all the services he offers, he prefers doing most of the work alone. But has two people he engages on a need basis.
“I have provided services to about 1000 clients this year and most of their feedback is positive. Apart from that we are also well connected with various employers who have great job opportunities for youths to venture in. This has helped us attract more people to our site,” he says.
There are times when there is a slowdown in demand for his services especially during this period of COVID19 pandemic. Very many people have been laid off and others sent on unpaid leave.
“Many organisations were not employing and we had some slow months especially April and May. However, we have noticed that the demand for our services has gone higher from the month of August. During the slow months we embarked on a mission to educate and give job seekers hope through numerous articles. When we do this, more people find the need to get our services hence earning us more clients,” he says.
QUICK FIVE: WHAT TO KNOW
Are you just for the executive lot or you generally have something for everyone?
We serve people of all levels. So, depending on your qualification be sure to get what suits you.
What makes your business stand out in the competitive market?
There are so many providers of the same services in the market but we are on a mission to re-write the job search journey for job seekers.
Ours is about customer experience and the job search journey. This enables us to walk with job seekers in every journey until they get a decent job, which paves way for their dream job.
Your comment on payment
I can say it depends on the type of clients you get and your terms as the person rendering the services. Our Clients are divided into two major categories; Job Seekers and Employers.
Job seekers are categorized into 5 groups: Entry Level, Junior Management, Mid Management, Senior Management and C-Suite professionals.
To avoid problems with your clients always receive half the payment before you assist them and the difference when they land in their jobs.
Has it been a smooth ride?
Not at all. As you well know that nothing comes on a silver platter. You have to put a lot of effort and dedicate yourself to what you are doing in order to achieve all your set objectives.
It was never a walk in the park, I struggled to win clients. I even had trust issues with employers and many more challenges as far as Facebook group management is concerned. But with time things have been improving bit by bit and even my level of income has grown tremendously.
What do you think will speed up the growth of a business like yours?
The main thing that you must focus on is marketing. Ensure your site is known all-over.
Secondly, make sure you deliver high-quality content in a well-organized manner to attract clients.
Finally ensure you update your page frequently and have new jobs posted daily. With all these you will be on top of the game.