The Zambia jobs market is fast paced because jobs are in short supply. Jobs are mainly advertised in national newspapers and through word of mouth. You can also find Zambian jobs online through recruitment websites and social media sites like LinkedIn.
We’ve written this guide to help all Zambian job seekers in their quest to find a rewarding job. We’ve had the experience of being the job seeker and the recruiter in Zambia and the UK. Our intention is to use both the Zambian and international perspective and experience we have so you can get the best of both worlds. This guide will cover:
Jobs are mainly advertised in Zambia’s national newspapers and through word of mouth. Get the full details on how you can get the latest on jobs by reading our guide on where they are advertised.
Because of the stiff competition for jobs in Zambia, the vacancy window for entry and some mid level jobs tends to be very tight. This is to help recruiters minimise application numbers. The more professional the job the longer the vacancy window tends to be. When you see a job you are interested in, you’ll need to take prompt action.
Nowadays, more and more companies will ask you to email your CV and application documentation. However, some organisations, especially Government organisations will still ask you to deliver a printed or handwritten application.
Because organisations usually get a high number of applicants they are unlikely to communicate with you or provide any feedback, except to invite you for an interview if you are successful.
Make sure you check your emails and answer your phone for any communications with a potential employer. Since it is an employers market they are unlikely to chase except if you stand out as a high quality candidate. Companies will not alway tell you about the interview format. Expect anything from one to one interviews, panel interviews, tests and even group work with other applicants. If you want to be prepared, it won’t hurt to ask about what they expect of you. If you are applying for a job as an expat or returning resident, organisations may interview you by video link such as Skype.
Most companies will start new recruits on a trial probation period, usually around three months. This may be longer if you are entering a training programme or a more established organisation.
Getting a job anywhere is about you being able to communicate that you're the most suitable candidate for the position. Qualification and experience play a huge part but it also comes down to the effort spent in the application and how you fit in with the company. Distinguish yourself by spending time on your application correspondence. Follow these tips to get yourself started right in the Zambian job market, making sure your emails, CVs and cover letters get opened, read and considered for interviews and positions. All the best!
Read our guide on where Zambia jobs are advertised. In addition to the jobs sites, newspapers and recruitment companies we’ve listed in that section, word of mouth is still one of the biggest ways people find jobs in Zambia. Put the word out that you're looking for a job with your friends and family. Remember, that people know people, who know people! Word will get around, especially if you have a proven track record.
With significant competition in the Zambian jobs market it is imperative that you make an effort to stand out. Here are our top job application tips.
Applying for every job you find can feel very productive, but it’s better to think about quality over quantity. You’ll have more success applying for 10 positions well than for 100 jobs that you loosely fit. Having received many job requests and applications from people from very different backgrounds to Jobsbwana, we’ve noticed this to be a problem in the Zambian jobs market.
From an employer’s perspective it is frustrating to receive job applications from people who are from altogether different backgrounds that do not have transferrable knowledge, skills and experience. It sends a message that the applicant is thinking, ‘any job will do’. If this comes through, it may well put you on the ‘no’ pile pretty quickly. Although as an applicant it may sometimes feel like any job will do(!), it’s important to take the time to communicate otherwise in your application. The jobs market in Zambia would be more efficient for applicants and recruiters if everyone applied to jobs to which their knowledge, experience and skills are suited to, rather than applying for those loose fit job opportunities.
To apply for jobs you’re suited to, choose to apply for jobs that are related to:
There is nothing wrong with seeking a complete career change or applying for jobs that don’t quite follow on from your current position. However, when you do this, it is important to:
If an organisation is filling more than one position, and you apply for more than one job at the same company, you'll seem like you are unfocused and looking for any job.
Generic introductions don't work especially in the saturated Zambian jobs market. Seasoned recruiters can spot generic introductions a mile off! All they do is make you look like you haven’t made the effort. Instead, take the time to demonstrate you are a good fit by adapting each cover letter to the position you're applying for, identifying relevant accomplishments, achievements and anything you can offer the particular role.
It’s always a good idea to have a reference from a previous employer. Current recruiters will appreciate the chance to speak to a person you have worked for previously. It also demonstrates that you left that position on good terms which is always a sign of a respectable professional individual. You can also consider references from teachers, coaches and church leaders. Having references from friends and family doesn’t look very professional and isn’t recommended simply because they are likely to be biased. Another important point is to ask your referees if they are willing to give a reference. It won’t go down well if they are surprised to hear from your potential employers when they get in touch.
This might seem obvious but many people fall at this first hurdle! If the instructions say send an email to a specific email address, with a specific subject line with specific attachments then do that. Recruiters give these instructions to make their recruitment process as simple and efficient as possible. Those that follow instructions will stand out for the right reasons.
Your email might not even get opened if it doesn’t have a clear subject line, looks too vague or is unprofessional. Give the reader context such as the position you're applying for.
Zambian recruiters have to go through many applications and might not read beyond the first paragraph of an email or cover letter. Keep them short, concise and focused. Two or three paragraphs are enough although you might consider more, the more professional the job.
You’re writing to your potential boss. Keep your correspondence professional and skip the slang, abbreviations and emoticons. This is not a text or whatsapp message, so use paragraphs and full sentences!
Spell check, grammar check and proofread your application document. Then do it again. Read it out loud and if you have trouble spotting your own mistakes, ask someone else to run through it.
It seems obvious, but make sure you include your contact information. Provide a name, phone number and email address and then be on the alert to answer your calls and check your emails.
It’s always best to use your own email address and phone number otherwise it’s not very respectful to your current employees. Imagine how difficult you will make things for yourself if your current employer found out and you don’t get a new job straight away.
Increasingly, recruiters considering your application will search for you online. Make sure you look responsible and trustworthy on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Read more about this, in our section, ‘How to find jobs in Zambia the unconventional way’
Looking for a job in Zambia can be a trial. Don't get discouraged. Stay positive and keep moving forward. You can do it!
It’s essential that you find out as much as possible about the company you are going to be interviewing at. A good place to start is their website (if they have one). Also look for company information on social media channels like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Research the following key information:
Going to an interview equipped with such knowledge enables you to tailor your responses to suit the company and possibly even the people interviewing you. Demonstrating that you know about the company and showing genuine interest will help you stand out. This will always go down positively with recruiters.
They say you only have a few seconds to make the right impression. You should want to make an entrance for the right reasons when going for any level job. Ladies, avoid outfits that are too revealing and have too much jewellery and makeup. Gentleman, iron your shirts and ensure your haircut is professional looking. Other tips are to have clean shoes and ensure you smell nice - small details will make a big difference! Of course, not all jobs require you to dress the same. For example, an interview for a job in fashion will mean you have an opportunity to demonstrate that your style matches with the company. Similarly, going for an interview on a construction site may not require you to be suited and booted. All in all, the research you do when preparing for your interview may help you select the perfect interview outfit. Think about the position, the work you will be doing if you got the job and dress accordingly. It’s a good idea to carry these habits through to when you get the job as well.
Never be late for a job interview! It will make your potential employers think you are disorganised and that you don’t care for the job. It’s far better to be early. If you are too early you can always wait elsewhere and then go in 10-15 minutes early.
A good way to make a positive impression is to be polite to everyone you meet when you go for the interview. Being polite and respectful is a good trait to have everyday but even more important at this early stage when you have no idea who is who, or what level of influence they have on the recruiters.
If you have any certificates, letters of recommendation, work samples, or anything you were asked to take the interview, make sure you have them, and that they are professionally presented.
Most interviewers will give you the opportunity to ask them questions. As someone who has been the interviewer, it’s always disappointing when people don’t have questions or ask the wrong questions. Ask questions that demonstrate your desire to settle in, make a positive impact and to contribute long term. Don’t ask questions about leaving early or whether you can play music!
Apart from the traditional job advertisement route to finding a job in Zambia there are some things you can do to get noticed.
The is a good selection of events you can attend to be in with a chance to meet potential recruiters. Some examples are Bongo Hive and Startup Hour. Be sure to keep up to date with career development and networking events via our events in Zambia page.
Make a point of making the right impression, holding conversations, listening, asking questions, letting people know what type of job you are looking for and giving out your contact details. A good tip is to connect with people you have met on relevant social media channels after the event, for example, LinkedIn and Twitter. Remember, you may not meet your next boss, but you could meet the person who will recommend you to your next boss.
The digital world we live in enables you to demonstrate your work, interests, personality and dreams with relative ease. For a relatively low investment you can set up a website/blog where you can post content that may well impress potential employers. If you haven’t got the budget or technical knowledge to set up a website then you can use tools like LinkedIn and Medium to do the same thing. You can write content that demonstrates your expertise, commitment and passion. Sharing photos, videos and audio files are another way to impress. You can also use these website to network online with potential employers. If your blog can help you impress potential employers then remember to include it in your CV and job application.
Too many people only use social media for fun, jokes and proof of their latest weekend shenanigans. It is important to remember that a lot of what you post is public and savvy employers will look you up social media. Think about your social media accounts as places you can share your expertise, show off your personality and aspirations, and also build valuable relationships with people who can help you get that dream job.
This may seem counterintuitive but if you are not currently working or studying it’s probably best to do some voluntary work. A potential employer will be impressed that you are filling your time with something valuable rather than just sitting around. Doing voluntary work will also give you an opportunity to learn new skills and gain further experience.
Many large organisations, such as those in the mining, agriculture and development sectors still mainly advertise in Zambian newspapers. These include:
The 3 leading Zambian job advertisers on Facebook are
When you search for ‘Zambia jobs’ on Facebook you may also get one off job advertisements by specific organisations, so it’s worth searching Facebook too. When you spot a company that posts a job vacancy on Facebook, they are likely to do it again, so it might be worth liking their page to be in with a chance of seeing their vacancy updates.
LinkedIn has a jobs tab which allows you to add your location. The search facility isn’t that great because it will throw up some jobs in other locations. So you can do a search to only highlight Zambia, Lusaka (or you city of choice) or ZM jobs, (Ctrl F) and then apply through LinkedIn.
There is a range of recruitment companies in Zambia who you can register with. Start by finding out as much about the company as possible, such as, if they focus on a specific sector. Then pitch yourself to them, following their registration instructions — remember they are the connection between you and your ideal job.