So, over the weekend, while you guys were busy proving why we have the wrong people in Mathari and the rightful incumbents on our roads, I attended an Omulembe birthday celebration. During that celebration, I met some very interesting people from Bulanda kwa wasanii and 48 kwa maballer wa Busia.
During one of the tête-à-têtes, as my newly-made friend sipped Grants and I some vitu ya watoto, we got talking about how recruiting the young generation into formal jobs has become nearly impossible and mostly exasperating. It is like the purpose of education has taken a nosedive. Granted there is some education going on somewhere in the confines of our innumerable institutions of learning, I think akili nyingi imeondoa maarifa. The basics have been forgotten and focus has shifted to outdoing each other on how big and fashionable your main gate looks – it is no wonder we are churning out ‘graduates’ who are keen on ‘slaying’ than on serious life issues.
Case on point, job applications and interviews. I recall very well that writing formal letters was class 5 business during the Moi era and Mr. Njoroge ensured that we got the alignment and the maximum of 3 paragraphs right. Nowadays, what we are receiving from the lamba low low generation – and they are doing exactly that – is a concoction of WhatsApp texts and some toddler gibberish that is apparently supposed to make them sound swaggerific and in the process make us – the formal guys that recruit – look and feel outdated. My newly-made friend was recently promoted into the so-called talent manager position (in our lamba high high times this would be a head of department, manager or team leader). As usual when you go to the villages and you have made it to Nairobj, he met Mama Nekesa from Busia 48 who told her that Nekesa had just completed her Master’s degree from a top university and she was just ripe for employment. In the characteristic Bantu clansman spirit of helping a sister and earning his points to Mama Nekesa’s loud midnight prayers that she often forces villagers into, my friend agreed to consider Nekesa for the position and gave her his email address so that she could apply for the position. He had just signed himself up for a series of daymares.
So, at 11:30 AM on Monday morning, my friend logs into his work outlook account since they had agreed that Nekesa would send her documents and application latest at 9 AM to the HR and copy my friend. Seeing that there was nothing in both the inbox and spam folders, my friend calls Nekesa to follow up. She doesn’t answer his three calls. He calls Mama Nekesa and asks where Nekesa is. Her saved mother – the prayer wonder woman of 48 this one – replies, “Nekesa nd’o uyu apa… Zimu tu nd’o atak’kujukua” (Here is Nekesa… Only she does not want to pick up). Then Mama Nekesa proceeded to hand Nekesa her mulika mwizi (feature phone), as she toys with her Tech-no that has a Xiao-mi Kariobangi-made screen guard. Nekesa promises to send in the documents in an hour’s time. Meanwhile, my already irritated friend has to do some inhale-exhale juju thing to calm his nerves – after all Sunday was just the previous day and the sermons of 70 times 7 times were still alive in him. Two hours later, his outlook comes popping with a notification and finally, Nekesa just emailed…
Upon opening the email, my friend is at a loss. Nekesa just sent in a subject-less, one-liner, “Xaxa (emoji 1)! Nimetuma zile dox (emoji 2) cheki then unicall (emoji 3). Thanx (mixture of emojis including a heart and the monkey covering face with both hands).“ Nekesa’s email address is Nekeslayqueen@hotmail.com and her email profile image is a full rolled out tongue on her upper lip that closely borders a nose bull ring that dangles like soot from a village firewood-powered kitchen. My friend downloads what is named CV (the only attachment), but resembles a distant cousin to a deceased grand-in-law of a curriculum vitae, and morning sickness strikes his masculinity in the afternoon. Her CV is 5 pages long – not because of her many achievements, but because there is a conglomerate of font types (Algerian for her name, Monotype Corsiva for her email address, Informal Roman for titles, etc. etc.) and font sizes (ranging from 14 to 21 points combining bold, italics, bold italic and dotted underlines sprinkled here and there), and line spacing is multiple lines at 5 points. My friend’s enzymes went into a coma and his only reply was the red-hot angry emoji -the only language that he figured Nekeslayqueen might perhaps understand. Immediately he hits send, the Mailer Daemon replies with a notification that one of the email addresses did not exist… On checking, Nekeslayqueen had mispelt the HR Director’s email. My friend sighed out a labor-like pain – such great relief! Although my friend did not make it to Mama Nekesa’s prayer line, he was more than happy to live without those prayers.
My friend’s experience reminded me of a recent engagement I had while conversing with another Master student for a position that she had been referred to by a colleague. When the lady walked in adorning her 6-inch knee high boots, red-velvet poncho and a pair of jeans that the thin, black thighs threatened to pimple-pop-out of any minute, I could not believe that she had actually thought my eyes worthy of this disgusting strip-club-like “undresscode”. I know I am not alone – not just because of my new Mulembe friend’s encounter – but because far too many recruiters have been crying foul. For example, months ago, I saw the tweet below from a top, Kenyan business mogul, Chris Kirubi (@CKirubi):
Some of the tweeps claimed that CK should have been more understanding and give the young man a job because the whole point of the young man was to communicate and that CK had gotten the message anyway. I could relate with Chris’ view and hence my reply:
Now, let it be known that there is no substitute for properly constructed, well polished, impeccable applications that feature excellent grammar devoid of typos. Now, those of you in Nekeslayqueen lamba low low cohort need to style up. Instead of staying glued to your screens waiting for your exes to post statuses so that you can stalk them with your “read receipts” disabled, make a little effort to go through CV templates online and formal letters. Again, do not plagiarize – I have seen some candidates forget to even edit the address of their friends and submitted CVs that indicate they are boyshaod when indeed their names and biological composition dispute masculinity in all its forms. I understand this is how you get through assignments in some public universities, but whatever happened to being unique and limited editions, as you always claim on Facebook and IG!
When you send a recruited that xaxa crap while applying for job, s/he does not necessarily get angry at you for embracing and being content with such mediocrity. Instead, his/her pituitary glands oozes of furious adrenaline at the thought that a homo sapien as mediocre as you would consider him/her worthy of implicating in such mediocrity. Recruiters get mad because they cannot believe that you disrespect them that much. They get offended at the thought of you imagining that they would consider playing muddy-pig-sty wrestling with you. If you have mediocrity to share, please don’t share it with a prospective employer. Just like your hands, keep it (your mediocrity) to yourself!