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Image Dear Career Coach

I left Uganda about 16 years ago to gain a good education in the USA. I now have a Masters degree in Accounting with 10 years of experience. I have searched for jobs in Africa for 2 years now but they all prefer local candidates to me. I have mainly searched on NGO websites and a few corporate websites. I have also attended African career fairs here in the USA. I have noticed, however, that for Finance Manager positions recruiters still prefer men to women. What should I do in my situation? Your advice will be appreciated.

I have no doubt that job hunting has been a frustrating experience for you but I do have to question whether every organisation in Uganda 'prefers local candidates' and challenge your assumption that all the companies that pay a lot of money to visit the US to recruit are only looking out for male candidates

Sex discrimination does exist and if an employer is going to be short-sighted enough to discount 50% of the available talent pool, there is not much you can do about it – and you wouldn’t want to work for such an organisation anyway!

However, unless you have irrefutable proof that your lack of success is due to sexism, I would encourage you not to focus on that as a reason - or excuse - to revisit how you are marketing and promoting your skills and experience.

In your search on NGO and corporate websites, are you sending a standard CV or are you tailoring your application to suit these very different markets? When you attend the job fairs, do you take the time to research the companies and organisations attending and the kind of roles they are hiring for? Have you been proactive with using your network of friends, family and alumni to help connect you to opportunities?

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Most importantly, how are you presenting your CV and your experience? Bear in mind that if you are applying to an African company or organisation you need to customise the experience you have gained in the USA to make it sound relevant to the African company's needs. Are you highlighting the ways in which you can bring your overseas experience in to benefit the companies you are applying to or are you expecting people to 'see through' your CV to understand why they should hire you?

As part of your job search strategy, you should also contact some of the recruitment agencies in Uganda to find out more about local opportunities?

Consider if recruiters are really looking for men or rather for so-called ‘male’ characteristics i.e. confidence, gravitas, and the ability to stand one’s ground. In addition to your technical skills, as a Finance Manager, you will need to present yourself as confident and assertive. So get some feedback on how you come across to others and whether it is selling you effectively.

Don't let your frustration discourage you. Gear yourself up and take a hard look at your job search strategy and presentation and get back in the game!

If you need any help or coaching with any of the issues raised, don’t forget to contact us to find out how we can help you.

All the best!

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From online CV checking to face-to-face coaching, presentation skills training to making the right impact at interview, our careers services will help you reach your goals.

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