One on One With ‘BrighterMonday’ CEO, Emmanuel Mutuma

October 4, 2021

Emmanuel Mutuma is the chief executive officer of BrighterMonday, one of East Africa’s top online human resources and recruitment platforms.

A graduate of digital marketing and social media from the London School of Business and Finance, Mutuma has 15 years of experience working in the creative, advertising, marketing and information technology departments of different organisations.

Mutuma spoke to Enterprise about the future of work.

Describe the state of unemployment in the country

We have seen the levels of unemployment get worse in recent times due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unemployment has more than doubled in a year with 60 percent of the unemployed being young people aged between 18 and 35 years. The job market has become more competitive with global talent pools expanding. Currently, remote work is being accepted as an option globally.

Most organisations are adopting workplace flexibility or working remotely, this has increased competition since we are all not accustomed to the fact that we do not need to be physically present to deliver on roles and responsibilities. A company looking for a developer or digital marketer can now hire abroad. This has made it even more difficult for local talent pools that aren’t matching skills expectations.

BrighterMonday is 15 years old in the market. How different is the Kenyan job market compared to, say, ten years ago?

The job market has massively changed in the last decade. We have always been an online business and chose to challenge how recruitment was done, from the traditional job applications using post office boxes, to shortlisting piles of physical CVs for days or months.

We chose a futuristic approach where we believed digitisation will be the most effective, efficient and convenient way to run a recruitment business. We have invested in technology, big data, analytics and digital marketing approach. This has made it easier for us to scale while offering the best solutions to our customers by making customer success our main priority.

Job portals like ours help employers to make the right decisions faster and hire the right people. For job seekers, it’s easy to use, affordable and convenient to apply for the right opportunities on their laptop or mobile device.

What benefits does the employer get when they use your platform?

BrighterMonday is privileged to have worked with over 40,000 employers in Kenya, as the ideal recruitment solutions platform, employers enjoy an array of services. Kenya is a demand market and that means an employer receives hundreds of applications for any opportunity advertised in public. For every 17 seconds, an employer receives at least 1 job application. BrighterMonday has built a tool – application tracking system (ATS) – which helps employers to rapidly filter profiles that are relevant to their needs, supported by our algorithm and Artificial Intelligence (AI) engine.

This helps them save time and manage their recruitment cycle with ease. The tool also helps employers to communicate efficiently with applicants. Employers can also make decisions using different data points within a CV, a profile and an assessment. All these are presented in a user-friendly way and proven to be effective for every hiring manager.

How are you leveraging on data?

For employers: “If a decision is not backed by data, it doesn’t exist.” That is one of the best lessons that I got from my mentor a few years back. It’s always important to measure your hiring decisions by referencing data points rather than gut feel. Employers are given the ability to rank profiles based on an algorithm and assessment score of candidates, we are able to present behavioral and psychometric results to support the quality of talent. Interviews are used to measure other areas like culture fit, however, core hiring decisions are presented and supported by data on our ATS.

For job seekers, we evaluate skill gaps from profiles on our system. A candidate applying for a role can take an assessment and get instant results on their level of performance. The transparency in providing real-time reports helps candidates to either choose to up skills to meet a better score that increases their chances of making it to the selection criteria.

Who is the ideal candidate in today’s job market? What are employers looking for?

We have seen skills as the main factor in making some hiring decisions.

There has been a global shift in the kind of skills required in the workplace. Historically, employers maintained the same requests on top five skills while hiring, which included communication, teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, and the ability to work under pressure.

This is totally changing and employers are keen on additional skillsets for the evolving business environment. This is broken down into two –soft skills and hard skills.

Some of the trending soft skills include adaptability and agility, emotional intelligence, openness to learning, creativity and innovation, and critical thinking. These are softer elements that aren’t theory-driven but character-driven, we have found soft skills critical in identifying the right talent for the right workplace culture. For trending on-demand hard skills, we have seen the following skills demand increase especially after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic; digital and coding skills, data analytics and technology skills.

What are your thoughts on the gig economy and how does it relate to the business that you do?

Accelerated digitalisation coupled with expanded global talent pools and high levels of unemployment necessitates the need for gig jobs. This means that organisations are also looking into cutting operational costs, which include recurring costs like salaries.

The need for gig jobs serves the purpose of accessing certain skills in a short period. If structured well, professionals can work in more than one company and reduce wastage and increase productivity. We however need to challenge the status quo and accommodate these changes from a labor law perspective.

The legislator has a role to play in this too by passing the right laws to sustainably resolve the unemployment issue in the country by supporting the gig economy policy.

Tell us more about BrigherMonday’s Level Up campaign

The level up with BrighterMonday initiative is targeted at professionals who aspire for more. We would like to walk with them the journey of understanding how to grow their career aspirations and succeed in getting the right opportunities.

The goal is to encourage them to get relevant content personalized to drive their personal success in four ways that include; getting a professional CV, getting noticed with a 100 percent complete profile, get timely access to top jobs and helping them get tailored career advice.

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