Now you have graduated, what next?

unemployed_nigerian_graduates

Recently, I heard about a job vacancy and passed on the information to a friend. Since I’m presently employed, I encouraged her to circulate it to her friends. Isn’t that how people hear about job opportunities these days? According to How to Get a Job, a publication by LEAP Africa, word of mouth remains one of the popular ways of finding a job. The book also lists other ways to enhance your job search and ultimately land a job. How to Get a Job is a great resource for those seeking to get into the job market and those looking to change jobs. You can pick up a copy of this book here.

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Since the job vacancy was a temporary position I was anxious to know if anyone was interested. Then I chatted with my friend to see if anyone indicated interest to apply. How disappointed I was, to learn that one person that might have been suitable for the role passed up on applying because she was looking for a permanent job and the office location was ‘too far’.

On most mornings, it takes commuters living on the mainland of Lagos city approximately 3 hours (maximum) to get to the island. Even for the average working ‘Lagosian’, heavy traffic and high cost of transportation seems to be one of the major problems of living in the metropolis. Though I agree that people should take on jobs in close proximity to their residence or atleast within their residential districts but if you have been out of a job, for a year and a half will this be your sole consideration? Should there be opportunities to start elsewhere?

So I started to ponder, could this be one of the reasons this lady had been unemployed for this long?

You see, I must digress here and tell you about my experience after a long-term unemployment phase. After my first degree, I was unemployed for a year and half! During that time of waiting and job searching, I was frustrated, depressed and unsatisfied. Maybe I exaggerated a little. I wasn’t totally unemployed but underemployed and I also did not find satisfaction in the job I had at the time.

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Many young Nigerians (like this lady) are quick to look for excuses or insinuate that there are unfavourable conditions attached to a particular job that makes it not ideal for them.

Maybe the question we should be asking at this point is; what does having a job mean to you? Clearly, for some people having a job means financial independence, or achievement unto self development or finding a fulfilling career. While jobs are limited when compared to the number of graduates in Nigeria, employers are looking for people who are employable and have some work experience. Now, being employable is having skills set and the right attitude towards work.

But how do you get work experience if no one will hire you without prior experience?

Here are some things you can do to acquire employability skills necessary for getting and being successful in a job:

Internship

Apply for a paid or unpaid internship, which traditionally are training positions. Paid interns earn less than full time employees. In a tough economy, though, you may find only unpaid intern positions, where you work alongside a mentoring employee and gain valuable experience in the process. Some internships can lead to permanent positions in the field

Work for free

Volunteer with non-profit organizations to learn skills you lack. Spend time after work or on weekends to help a charity in the area of your interest. You can gain experience performing various tasks, including fundraising, event planning and administration.

Commitment

Even as a volunteer, it is becoming increasingly competitive to be selected for voluntary work in any organization or on a project. There are many people with the same technical skills  that you have and applying for the same role. But what sets you apart, is your commitment to be there, to give without expectation and work diligently.

Start small

Take a low-level job in the company where you want to work. A demotion in pay and responsibility to start from the beginning in another field can benefit you in the future. Accepting an apprenticeship or entry-level position in a company can help you advance by attracting the attention of managers who recognize hard work and diligence.

Take a look at that CV

Revamp your resume to accentuate skills that were not the main function in your previous job. If you were a customer service representative who sold upgrades to existing clients at times, you may qualify for a sales position. Most jobs require employees to perform other duties that can help them meet the requirements in another field.

Expand your network

Meet people in the industry where you desire to work. Attend trade shows and workshops. Join associations related to the field. Talk to key people in other companies and explain your accomplishments. You may impress someone enough to give you a shot or to personally refer you to another hiring authority.

Personal development

Attend workshops, seminars or forums to boost your knowledge of the industry of your choice, basic IT and employability trainings. A good place to start is training geared towards mastering your skills or acquiring new skills. There are many free or cheap trainings out there such as LEAP’s Employability Programme.

Pursue your dreams

Get certified in your particular field of interest. Choose your career and know the relevant and widely acceptable certifications in IT, Project Management, Accounting, Personnel Management, etc.

Do you agree or disagree with this post? I would love to read your comments.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for these tips, it’s exactly some of the things we need to teach those searching for their first well paid positions. What you say concerning volunteering is true, as the same mindset is what is cultivated in the Western world. What I would like to do is see how we can create more jobs and also spread messages such as this throughout Nigeria.

    Thanks again.

    Like

  2. Thanks alot for this insightful and thought provoking publication.I am a young account graduate ,passionate Nigerian with many business ideas.I am looking for a platform for mentorship in order to harness my potentials and realise my dreams of addressing anf curbing the increasing uneployment rate in our country.Can your organisation be of assistance?

    Like

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