I’ve read through a number of posts welcoming our colleagues and friends who recently passed out into the job market. Many have followed this up with a reminder that there isn’t such a thing as “The Nigerian Dream.” Once you’re done with service and no longer have the guaranty of the (paltry) N19,800, nothing is certain: not the job, an income, savings for marriage, rent, etc. Nothing!
Many have been told to lower their expectations and not to dream of great jobs because many before them dreamt such dreams which never found a visa out of “Dreamtopia.” Many have been told to forget their grades, great CVs and promises from friends and acquaintances of certain employment after POP. Now, whilst I agree with the spirit behind these admonitions, I beg to differ on so many points. This post is mainly for those seeking paid employment.
1. THERE ARE NO JOBS IN NIGERIA
This is one great lie many of us have been told. And many of us agree because we believe the recession, which has been upon us for quite some time, has eclipsed whatever was left of the jobs in this country.
Well, wake up, brethren! While we’ve folded our arms and wallowed in this falsehood, people have turned offers down, switched jobs and had pay raises.
A career advisor once said that most available jobs are never advertised, and I strongly agree. This is not particularly because the “ogas” want to offer “their people” the roles. Not at all.
If you are interested in a paid role in any establishment, take the bold step of applying for it. As they say, finding a job is a full-time job of its own. So, get recruitment emails from the websites of these organisations and send out your applications. If you can find their email addresses, copy a decision maker or two in your email, and see how it goes. If you can’t find any emails, which I doubt, drop physical applications at their offices.
2. TAKE WHATEVER YOU’VE BEEN OFFERED; HALF BREAD IS BETTER THAN PUFF-PUFF
Whilst it is okay to have modest expectations when applying for entry level roles, never lower your expectations to levels that make you come off as cheap, unambitious and willing to settle for anything. Funny enough, this may be a turn off for serious recruiters.
Knowledge of one’s worth is a great thing, but we must be careful not to cross the thin line between this consciousness and coming off as egotistic. If the puff-puff does not align with long term career goals, cannot conveniently sort out transportation, accommodation and feeding (unless someone else has got you covered on these in the interim), and is uninspiring, you may need to really weigh your options.
3. I DON’T HAVE A FIRST CLASS OR A 2:1
My friends, good grades place you on a great pedestal, but there’s grace, too, that places you on a higher pedestal!
Employers put a cap on grades because they believe that this would enable them find smart (emphasis on smart) people who can withstand the pressures of the work they do and still deliver stellar results.
My people, when you work in an organisation and have dealings with clients, none of them is interested in your grades. What is foremost on their minds is how well you can offer smart solutions to their problems. So, when you think the grades don’t look too good, place emphasis on other things you’ve done that stand you out! Have you held leadership roles, received any awards, attended conferences or been involved in some other endeavour that “smart people” engage in? Put them all in your CV. I have had the privilege of knowing people this has worked for
4. FORGET YOUR GRADES
Please if you have the good grades, by all means leverage them to your advantage. They will open doors for you! Don’t forget them when you’re applying.
But when you get invited for an interview, leave them at the door, unless your interviewers bring them up. Focus on your people skills, suitability for the role and other life experiences. The key is, endeavour to be interesting and a great conversationist (but biko avoid talking too much).
My interviews have all averaged 45 minutes, and this time was never spent discussing grades. Placing your emphasis on your grades during an interview would suggest that this is all you have going for you.
5. FORGET YOUR GREAT CV
Never believe this lie. Dress your CV up how you want it to be regarded. Tailor it to suit the role and your industry, and place emphasis on your strengths.
If you’ve sent CVs out without responses, ask your friends who have been invited for tests or interviews what they did differently. Avoid typos and disorganisation. It is ironic when you state that a skill you possess is “Attention to Detail” when your CV looks tacky.
6. ABEG, BIKO, MBOK LEARN HOW TO SEND EMAILS
These days, especially when you apply via email, unless specifically asked to, you do not send cover/application letters. You need to learn how to send cover emails.
DO NOT ATTACH CVs TO BLANK EMAILS. Endeavour to write the subject of the email appropriately, begin with a proper salution and have a proper complimentary close. Do not include any addresses in the body of your emails. Please delete default signatures on your phone which read “Sent from my iPhone,” “Sent from my BlackBerry 10,” etc. You can replace them with a proper signature, such as:
7. BE PATIENT AND PRACTICE TESTS
Recruitment processes may take anywhere between a few weeks to a couple of months. Be patient, and pray. Generally, it is best to start applying for a job a few months before you are actually ready to commence a new role. For serving corps members, this should be a few months before POP, so that you reduce the possibility of spending even a day after service without a job to the barest minimum. Many organisations administer aptitude tests which may be GMAT, LSAT or nondescript. Before and, especially, when you get an invite, confirm which tests these organisations administer. Download practice apps from your app store or download practice tests from the web, and do the needful – practice!
Ask around, someone you may know may work or know someone else who works in that organisation. Ask them for any avoidable pitfalls. You may also find other people’s experiences online.
8. THEY MUST HAVE FORGOTTEN THAT YOU EVEN APPLIED OR WROTE A TEST THERE
If you’ve sent out applications or you’ve written a test or even had an interview and haven’t received any acknowledgement or feedback, simply send a respectful reminder. The delay may be due to many reasons. For example, due to the volume of emails they receive, they may have inadvertently glossed over your application. To avoid this, try to send your applications during business hours. Each time I’ve done this, responses (not automated) have returned within an hour or two.
Again, they may not have gotten back to you due to administrative issues, and would most likely not mail you an explanation unless you ask. A pretty simple mail reminding them of your application, test or interview, and asking “Abeg wetin dey shele?” (of course not in these words) should do the trick.
Generally, you should send reminders after a reasonable period of silence, say, two weeks in all other cases or a few days after a timeframe within which you were told to expect feedback, and maybe a week after sending an application.
In conclusion, I’ll state that you should never leave anything to chance. Promises of certain jobs by friends, family and other associates, although followed through with actual offers sometimes, should never be depended on solely. If the promises come through whilst you have another offer, no harm, no foul. Better this than waiting for months and, sometimes, years for these promises to materialise.
This has gotten even longer than I’d hoped, but I pray someone finds this useful
sent in by ENDURANCE AGBOR