Unprofessional dress, including miniskirts and baggy pants, body odour, and vulgarity are some of the turn-offs that have caused Jamaican job seekers not to be given the jobs at interviews.
The 2017 National Labour Market Survey (NLMS) noted that local employers sometimes face difficulties when they attempt to hire staff because of a lack of work experience, underqualified applicants, and bad impressions during interviews.
This is no surprise to Dr Leahcim Semaj, founder of the business management consulting firm Above or Beyond. He told The Sunday Gleaner that people are getting “dubious” advice on how to package and present themselves for interviews.
“Dress is an issue. When you dress, you are packaging yourself and you are representing the organisation. One of the things we do is hire for companies, so we have to match you with the culture of the organisation,” said Semaj.
“If you are applying for a managerial post and you don’t package yourself as a manager, that’s too far down for us to start. I don’t mean the latest design. I am talking about being clean and well-put-together because you are not going to the beach or a dance,” added Semaj.
Lack Of Resourcefulness
He argued that job seekers who turned up late for interviews also turned off employers. According to Semaj, this happens far too often.
“If you are running late for some reason, you should call ahead and explain what is happening. It can’t be, ‘Boy, me never have any credit’. It shows a lack of resourcefulness. Within two
minutes, people make solid impressions of you. Anything you say after that might fail in changing the impression,” said Semaj.
He argued that a lack of work experience is not a major problem even though the latest labour market survey shows that 32 per cent of
employers listed this as the major problem when they are seeking new employees.
For Semaj, the major problem is persons with no experience making unrealistic salary demands.
“You have to start somewhere. Once somebody is consciously aware that they have limited work experience and you are willing to start and work their way in and up, I have no problem. Now if you make unrealistic salary requests, that’s where I have a problem. You need to do some research for the particular position you are applying for and stick within that range.
“Most resumes we see are bad. Your height, your weight and your marital status don’t add any value at all to your resume. What are your skills? What are your achievements?” added Semaj as he pointed to another problem area for employers.
For president of the Jamaica Employers Federation, David Wan, too many job seekers fall down in basic areas.
“What we find is a lack of soft skills such as common courtesy and manners – how they dress, how they talk, the way they communicate, personal hygiene,” said Wan.
“We should start in the high schools and give some training as to what is expected once you leave that high school and move into the working world. There has to be more sensitisation starting at the high-school level.
“It’s not a task we can lobby the Ministry of Education to take on, but I think we have to start there. You can’t just graduate this summer from a high school and in a month, get this conversion to have the social skills necessary to function properly in the workplace. It’s going to be a process, but that is where I think we need to start,” Wan
The Labour Market Trends and Prospects for Employment Opportunities in Jamaica, prepared by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, showed that Jamaica’s labour force was supplied by graduates from 164 secondary schools, the HEART Trust/NTA, local colleges, and universities.
The survey indicated that employers are looking for knowledgeable individuals, with skills specific to the position, persons who are responsible and committed, prior work experience, and who come to the interview with good physical appearance.