The STAR factor!

The Human Resource Management Students Association (HURMSA) did it yet again on Friday 25th May! It brought to the University of Nairobi, School of Business Tom Shivo, Head of HR Relationship Management & Reward, Kenya Airways! If you didn’t get a chance to read about this spectacular association’s previous stellar event, read it here.

In this cold Friday morning, all of us were leaning in to catch every bit of what Mr Shivo was so concisely addressing: Appropriate job application techniques, CV writing and handling of interviews. Right off the bat, his experience, skill and knowledge was apparent. He stressed the importance of self assessment and how it opens the door to one’s full potential. How do you self assess? By simply looking at the things that make up your daily activities. Are you a player of a team sport or individual sport? When in a group, do you speak your mind or would you rather let others go first and then contribute? These factors tell of your introvert or extrovert traits. He mentioned this in the context of CV writing. A balance of the extrovert and the introvert in you is vital. Once you analyze yourself in these and many other scenarios, you will be able to know where you need to improve and how.

This brings me to what I think was the highlight of this tremendous session. Mr Shivo introduced S.T.A.R – Situation, Task, Action and Result. This is the technique that should be used when answering those interview questions that we think are really challenging. He gave an example of  questions asked to two HR candidates in an interview, “Have you encountered a challenge in your work life?” Candidate 1 simply answers, “Yes. I had two differently ranked employees and I found it really difficult to discipline them!” Candidate 2 on the other hand is asked whether he has any weaknesses and keeping in mind that he arrived 30 minutes earlier, is composed and taking steady deep breaths to relax says calmly, “Indeed I have had a weakness of smiling a lot! When it would come to disciplining employees, I would smile and they’d often take offense thinking that I am mocking them! So I decided to approach my mentor for advice and I have since learnt how to keep my facial expressions in check and so far no employee has brought forward a complaint!” In this second answer, you can trace out a situation that occurred in a certain task and for which action was taken and the result was positive! Neat, isn’t it? 🙂 For those who haven’t started doing so, do apply this S.T.A.R factor in your responses!

A warm thank you to Mr Shivo for taking time to visit and share his knowledge with us. Salute to HURMSA for the continued effort in adding value to the lives of students in the University of Nairobi, School of Business! Two thumbs up!

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Sorry, No Career Path Here!

The Human Resource Management Students Association (HURMSA) this afternoon gave me an early birthday present by granting me attendance to its inaugural  Career Talk held at the University of Nairobi, School of Business.  The speakers were none other than Christine Orono, Founder of People Insights Limited and Susan Kiama, the Managing Consultant of Three Green Apples Consulting.

These two ladies, experienced recruiters and Human Resource consultants and entrepreneurs, added unquantifiable value to my budding career and I can only be but thankful to the organizers of the event for their assertion and vision.

The first speaker, Christine Orono, was filled with infectious fire which inflamed the whole room! She had this easy laugh that though was meant to put us at ease, only made us more sensitive to what she had to say. I was strategically seated right at the front row to pick up on every little bit of information and report it back here to you, my wonderful readers!

We are, at this 21st Century, Generation Y who drive an ‘all-terrain’ vehicle through a non-existent career path, she said. Our world is globalized and unlike our parents and guardians, we do not have the privilege of job security. We leverage our skills on risk and uncertainty management, being time and results oriented, being assertive and self confident and of course packaging our creative talents in a way that creates an eclipse between our capabilities and that of the job opportunities available to us.

She highlighted that keeping in mind the dynamism of the job market, one needs to put themselves in the employer’s mind: Will you do the job? Can you do the job? Do you fit? In an interview, your fit into the culture of the organisation and its competency requirement is overtaken by your motivation! If you seem dull and lacking of optimism and positive attitude, then it’ll be, ‘Good bye, dream job!’ Attitude is everything!

At this point I was so charged, I resisted the urge to stand up and clap!

So when the calm and collected Susan Kiama came on, she did so just in time to allow me to regain composure! But alas! Her opening video left all of us perplexed! Watch it here. In addition, she had amazing facts to share: 4,000,000 job openings in South Africa went unfilled as at 2011 because no skills could match the demand. Kenyan Employers’ frequent complaint is that they can find no suitable recruits for positions (Ms Orono nodded in agreement). These facts were mauled by a question she asked: No one thought of bringing their CVs to this Talk even though you were well aware of the presence of recruiters? Jolly old me almost walked out at this point!

‘Attitude’ is a word that stood out in one of her first PowerPoint slides. That charged me right back up again! She reiterated Ms Orono’s statement by saying that only with the right attitude can we get to where we want to go, whether it is in self employment or not. She shared a story of a girl who earns 2500/- per day by making mandazi every morning for sale in local schools in her neighborhood. Informally employed, the young lady earns more than the average graduate will on their first job!

Her message was clear; as individuals, it is vital that we strive towards being well read, well researched and well versed. I think she should write a book titled, ‘From Earning to Learning’! Her presentation on that amidst constant power outages was flawless.

She kept it real by bluntly pointing out our avoidable mistakes in our thought processing, communication and networking skills and shared inspiring success stories of young entrepreneurs in Africa who have made it by simply channeling the right skills and passion in the right direction!

I must say, when I grow up, I want to be just like Susan Kiama and Christine Orono! What with their diction and easy charm bundled with experience and sense of humour? Who wouldn’t want to be!? 🙂

All in all, I bet everyone who attended the Talk walked away a tad intimidated. I know I did! I say this because that CV we thought was ‘all that’ may not be so after all! Our gut feeling that the job market could be a monster waiting to swallow us whole, suit and tie and all, may indeed be a real one. Not to worry! Thanks to HURMSA, we are pretty much sorted because from what I hear, Ms Orono and Ms Kiama will be back! This time, CVs ni lazima zibebwe!