Last week saw some thousands of young people conclude their NYSC in Nigeria. In a few weeks too, another thousands would finish (Batch B Stream 2 I think). This would be the first time many of them would be facing more real life situations. The one without frequent money gifts from parents and guardians. The one that would leave you broke. The one that would keep you trying to get a hang of things but you would not easily get that. In a nut shell, the one that it won’t be as easy and straightforward as you think it should be.
My fear for most of them is the habits they will cultivate as they await their coveted dream jobs. They will prepare CVs (not all will do but still hope to find a job then submit their CV after getting the job and it totally works). Some will pound the pavement, others will reach out online, on social media, etc. And that’s actually a better thing to do, instead of waiting for an employer to visit your home and hand in your employment letter wrapped in sweet smelling envelope.
However, everything worth doing is worth doing well. There is a way of doing something, and there is an effective way of doing something too. Many people do job hunting but they do it in a really terrible way. This might get them rejected a lot or delay them getting a job for an unusually longer time. So many of us write us our CVs ourselves without ever knowing how to write an effective/good CV or even getting a feedback on the one we write ourselves.
I might not be the most experienced person or HR or career coach to advise people on writing CVs or getting a job, but I have been there done that five years ago or so. Thus, I think speaking from experience and the many CV writing workshops I attended and listened to online gives me some credence.
If your intention is to find a job and not to proceed for another education, you can learn from these highlighted to-dos.
Ps: This advice goes to those hoping to secure jobs in purposeful organizations and not the many government offices where zoologists are hired in IT organizations or where hiring employers mean hiring those without requisite qualifications because you have relatives in powerful and influential positions. There are many organizations that hire you without any connection or ‘super’ connection. I am one and I know many others who got that too. It’s all about the package you are made of or branding, as one of my mentors like saying.
I have bulleted some to-dos here condensed in 4 actions;
- Prepare a very good CV/resume
This will take you some days to do and you are done with it 99%. The 1% is needed to tweak your CV a lil bit for different job applications. Writing a good CV is a skill. It is what many will use to get invited for an interview. Determine your unique selling point and include it in your CV. There are good cv templates out there if you aren’t a good designer. You can equally hire someone good to write your cv for you and a graphic designer to design it for you; enabling you to strikingly differentiate your cv from the thousand others who may be applying.
If you don’t have a LinkedIn profile, I advise you gets one today. It pays to have an online profile.
- Prepare a job search strategy
Yes. Figure out how, and when you will be applying for jobs. Online, through connections (asking parents, relatives and others to help) or pounding the pavement (visiting offices in person). On weekends, every morning or biweekly. Having a job search strategy will clarify your actions and way forward for you.
It is really tasking applying for jobs, that’s why a strategy can ease it for you by giving you a structure you can habitually practice.
Whatever job you applied to, keep track of it.
- Engage in some volunteer work/internship
This is my best advice as I think others would do 1 and 2 in any case. Many people will stay at home and catch up on all the sitcoms and movies they have missed while waiting for their employment. Go out there and find a company/firm doing what you studied or would like to do. Request to intern (without any compensation), they will be quick to accept. While this might not be possible for some of you, if it is for you, go ahead and do it. You will gain real valuable skills and experience needed on the job. Your new friends at the firm you are interning might be the connector to your paid job. If it is a weekend volunteer job with a non-profit, sure go ahead and devote your time. You might just hear someone talk about the firm that is currently recruiting and maybe they know a person there or two.
If you are the entrepreneurial type, start a business or learn how to start one. Look for business classes around; incubators, accelerators, seminars etc. there are my out there in Nigeria and many available online. Bottom line is don’t stay idle. It shows you are not an initiative taker.
- Get a career mentor
I love this one too. Many of us try to figure out things on our own. Some don’t even know how to figure out things. How they should begin, what to do and the likes. Having someone you look up to and with more experience than you can be the impetus you need. Through consultation, the mentor can inform you what the industry needs, good skills to have, and how you can better position yourself. I am currently working with some colleagues on a portal where young Nigerians can sign up and request for a mentor in their field. If you want to stay up to date with our launch day, follow me across social media channels to find out about the announcement.
A few months back, I reviewed applications for an open position at the firm I work for. It was sad to say that more than 50% of those who applied weren’t even considered because failed to follow the instructions for application as required of them. Many simply send generic CVs and don’t do other stuff required of them like writing a cover letter. Read the instructions on how to apply carefully and abide to it 100%. If there is a cover letter needed, please write one. And don’t send a generic one, make sure each letter is tailored to the job ad you are applying.
You will find tons of other advices out there on finding your dream job I guess. Read them all and learn what you can. I urge you to read this brilliant article by Hays CEO on How to Start Out as a Fresh Graduate. I have tried not to repeat what he has mentioned though.
These four things are for sure not commandments. But I think they give many of you a clear step forward of what to do next.
All the best.
If this helps you or know anyone it might, kindly share with them.