The job market in Zimbabwe is an interesting case study. Commonly known is the fact that unemployment is sky high in Zimbabwe. I know of people who graduated 10 years ago that have never had a formal job. It is generally not easy to find a formal job in Zimbabwe. There are a lot of things to talk about when looking at job market hiring norms in Zimbabwe. There are job market hiring norms in Zimbabwe that must be changed. Just because something is widely practised does not necessarily make it right.

Cut Off Age For Graduate Trainees

I have seen countless calls for applications in search of graduate trainees. The average cut-off age I have seen is usually 24 years. This means for one to be eligible they have to be a recent graduate aged 24 or younger. In a normal operating environment, there would be nothing wrong with that. Zimbabwe though is not a normal operating environment. The other day I saw someone saying they went back to Advanced Level in their 30s. They passed and right now they just started their first undergraduate degree. By the time they finish, they will be in their mid to late 30s.

Going by the current norm they will never be considered for graduate trainee openings. The trend of Zimbabweans pursuing their undergraduate degrees later in life is widespread. It mostly is not by choice but circumstantial due to the economic turbulence in Zimbabwe. Recruiters need to rethink their approach to the cut-off age for graduate trainees. Please, kindly consider the many competent Zimbabweans you are closing out.

Sole Focus On Undergraduate Degrees (Or Higher) As Key Requirements

Since time immemorial, this has been the norm. It still is i.e. the sole key requirement when hiring people is an undergraduate degree (or higher). Do a random sweep across job ads and you will see this almost always. The world has changed and that approach is no longer wise actually. In other regions of the world, the focus is no longer that. A degree (or higher) is not a sure way of measuring someone’s capabilities. It is subjective for the most part and shuts out worthy candidates. There are people out there holding only certificates who are way ahead of formal graduates. The tertiary education pool in Zimbabwe is also no longer what it used to be.

Students can now pay someone to do their assignments and dissertations. The industry has made claims that many of the graduates are half-baked and ineffective in the real world. We have heard numerous complaints from employers lamenting how incapable most graduates are. Acquisition of knowledge and skills is not solely confined to degrees. The times have changed and recruiters need to start operating outside the box. These days a certificate program, a masterclass, or an internship can produce an individual light year ahead of a formal graduate. Recruiters must start opening up their funnels to more prospects; not just formal graduates alone.

Unrealistic Experience Durations

Have you ever come across a job ad and you do not even bother because you do not have the required years of experience? Many of us have come across this and it is a common occurrence in Zimbabwe. You find an employer looking for a graduate trainee with 2 or 3 years of experience. Surely how is it feasible or fair to expect a graduate to have that kind of experience? For most, the common scenario would be 1 year that they got during their industrial attachment or internship. This does not end on graduate trainees but also spans across the whole spectrum.

I have seen some managerial positions speaking of 10 or more years of experience. Zimbabwe is not a typical operating environment; employers need to factor that in. Someone can have the capacity but is not considered because of focusing often on subjective experience durations. I strongly feel that longevity is not always a concrete way of measuring capacity. One can spend 5 years working somewhere but barely doing anything meaningful. I can go on and on here but it is high time unrealistic experience durations are rethought.

Call For Applications As A Mere Formality

I will use a personal real-life example to discuss this point. When I was in varsity I was once the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society Chairperson. At one point there was a call for applications for an exchange programme with Norway. The exchange programme would entail 2 people from Norway coming to Zimbabwe and 2 Zimbabwean going to Norway. I and a buddy of mine applied and got shortlisted to go for interviews in Harare at the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society HQ. When we got there we were shocked to find two other shortlisted people we did not even know of.

I even found out that they had never applied but were called to come for the interviews. We went through the interviews and well, those two were selected to go to Norway. What is my point here? We were encouraged to apply just as a mere formality. The selectors already had their people. This is all too common in the Zimbabwean job market. Many of you have been victims of this. Recruiters need to stop this unfair practice where they falsely raise people’s hopes.

Not Getting Back To Applicants

When people apply, they can be selected or not; that is understandable. What is bad is not getting back to the applicants. Sure enough those ‘we regret to inform you…’ emails are unpleasant. However, it is much better to know than to hold on to false hope. Recruiters need to do better in that regard; simply respond, despite the outcome.

These are 5 job market hiring norms in Zimbabwe that must be changed. This approach of thinking inside the box by most recruiters in Zimbabwe is retrogressive. Throw away the box and start hiring people using new age flexible approaches.