HOW TO GET A JOB IN 2021 (A COMPLETE GUIDE)
Getting a Job in Nigeria has gone far beyond having a Certificate or being the best student in your graduating set. Although these certificates are like a key, it is important to note that having the key to a door does not guarantee you entrance to the door. In many cases, based on experience, many job seekers make a lot of errors or misconceptions before getting to the door, denying them access to the door and therefore, making the key useless.
Provided you have a certificate, there should always be an opportunity out there for you to explore ahead of those that do not have a certificate. So, Please GO TO SCHOOL! If you already have a certificate, congratulations, the only challenge ahead now, is how to explore the certificate and that is the main focus in this article.
In this article, I will be discussing how we can utilize our certificates and skills to get a job in Nigeria, the mistakes we should avoid, the steps we should prepare for, and also, how to keep yourself busy while looking for a job. Please follow through till the end.
The value of acquiring a Certificate cannot be over emphasized. Your certificate is the first prerequisite for a job and every employer will always demand to see it. Even if you don’t like going to school, the fact that every employer asks for a certificate before granting employment should be a drive for you to get one.
In any case, getting a certificate is not just about the paperwork as many Nigerians assume, it is about learning and exposure. Aside from professional roles, such as Medical Sciences, Law and sometimes Engineering, that requires employing people that study strictly related courses, all other courses of study can be easily diversified.
A Mathematician can work as a banker, likewise, a graduate of education can end up working as a software engineer. Although, career path can be determined by the course you study, the point I am only trying to make is that there is always a big room for diversification and the primary focus should be on getting a university certificate and experience. If there is a particular course that you really have passion for, do well to go for it or at least something related.
Now, what are the values you should seek while acquiring a certificate?
- Problem Solving Skills: That long Mathematical Equation or Chemical Pathway or Essay that you were given to treat are not meant only to develop your grade or understanding, they are meant to grow your problem solving skills. Your ability to solve them without being deterred will have a great influence on your ability to solve any challenges you are confronted with outside the school. Please stop asking your friend to do it for you, if you don’t understand it, seek an explanation on how to do it yourself.
- Analytical Skill: Unfortunately, many people interpret this as “Mathematical Skill”. No, analytical skill does not mean Mathematical Skill. It only means your ability to give critical analysis, breaking down a complex thing for the purpose of study. Having a good analytical sense is one of the core values you should look out for in school. This will not only aid your problem solving ability, it will also make you have a defined foresight – a characteristic that differentiates you from an illiterate and the exact thing every employer would love to see in you.
- Access to Resources: Being a student is not a joke, and you definitely should not joke with your time and access to valuable academic & human resources. The school environment guarantees you access to colleagues, library and well trained professionals, you are there to tap from their wealth of wisdom and possibly form a lasting partnership.
Your understanding of these values will reflect in your final grade and believe it or not, every employer will consider you deficient of one or more of these values if your grade is below Second Class Lower. Surely if you had below 2,2 but have these values, it means you were faced with some other challenges or distractions while in school.
However, you have to prove yourself with something else and not your certificate any longer. Now that we have highlighted the exact thing we went to do in school, I want to believe you now have a better view of what that certificate you are holding should mean.
It means you are smart, an analytical thinker, a problem solver and a team player. The inevitable qualities every employer wants to see in you.
STEP 2: STAY INFORMED
“You cannot get the job if you are not informed about the job”. As a job seeker, ensure to stay up to date as regards every available opportunity out there. For a fresh graduate, entry level jobs, internships and graduate trainees should be your best keywords. Trainee based jobs means the employer is ready to give you all the adequate training required to perform in the advertised role. All they need is your educated brain. This is where your understanding of STEP 1 comes in.
A mistake fresh graduates commit while applying for a job is to assume they have zero years of experience, although this will be discussed when we get to CV writing, but do understand that your 1 year or 6 month or 3 month internship is an experience. Therefore, you can be a fresh graduate with 1 year experience.
As for experienced job seekers seeking a better opportunity, your ability to stay informed about job opportunities will greatly influence your ability to get a job. As an handler at iR Job Alert, we try our best to keep our WhatsApp Groups updated on the latest opportunity available, you can CLICK HERE to join the group to receive updates. However, it is always advisable to have a good number of credible sources to keep you informed.
Lagos State naturally receives a lot of attention when it comes to job availability because of the economic activities in the state. As a job seeker, you should be ready to seek out opportunities even outside your state of origin or state of residence. Aside from getting information from sources like iR Job Alert, you can always explore an old fashioned style of getting in touch with the Human Resources Sections of companies near you.
Employers are naturally looking for the best candidates to grow their firm, learning about the needs of companies around you can give you an employability advantage over those that are far located from the company. The only way you can take advantage of this is by staying informed about the activities of the company, look into their needs, develop your skill towards solving one of their needs, get the phone number or contact of the HR Manager or any of the team members and present your CV to him/her. Once your application gets to the HR Manager’s table, they will surely take a look at it.
In case you don’t know, there are lots of recruitments especially Governmental agencies that never get advertised. The key is to stay informed and take advantage of every information at your disposal to get a job.
STEP 3: UNDERSTAND THE EMPLOYERS’ EXPECTATIONS
There is no perfect definition of the “right candidate” as different employers have their individual wants from a candidate. While some are based on company policy, most are based on competence. Understanding what the employer wants to see in you is a rare ability that will make you different from other applicants.
To get a good understanding of what this is, you have to digest the responsibilities and requirements for the role you wish to apply for. Know the effect of the position on the overall output of the company and be ready to display your absolute understanding of what the position is all about. Another good thing you can do is reaching out to members of staff of the company, either formally or informally, to get an insider view of what the role requires. Many people will consider this impossible, but please try to get an insiders’ analysis.
Also, learn about the core values of the company. Not all companies have a standard, but big companies in many cases do have a standard, go online and do some digging about what these standards are. It will not only guide the way you submit your application, it will also guide the way you answer their questions when called upon for an interview.
In other scenarios like Federal Government Jobs, the expectations from you are not only your brilliance but also your “connections”. Although, Nigerian Government generally explains that they are equal employers, the reality is that only a few get the job solely on merit. In many cases, you have to prepare to work hand in hand with someone “at the top”, family members, friends, colleagues or anyone that can help out, before your merit gets you the job.
In this case, once you have submitted your application diligently, try as much as you can to reach out to every single person that can do a follow up on your application. Government Agencies in many cases work with slots and if your application is strong, it will be easier to get the job when you have someone interested in your application doing a follow up.
Please do not get me wrong, you can get a Government job purely based on merit and without any connections whatsoever. Just ensure you applied diligently based on the understanding of the employers’ expectations. However, you will be a lot smarter if you try as much as you can to get someone “at the top” to monitor your application.
STEP 4: DEVELOP A SKILL & IDENTIFY YOUR SKILL SET
As an educated person, highlighting the skills that are important to you is not a matter of the course you study but a factor of what you enjoy doing, have a passion for or a skill that is always in-demand in the labour market.
There are lots of skills demanded by employers that are not taught in the Academic environment. Take for example, an employer demands the service of a Graphics Designer who has a Bachelor’s Degree. This employer in this instance is looking for a candidate who has the qualities of a graduate as discussed in STEP 1 (See Reference), coupled with a Graphics Design skill.
As a job seeker, developing a skill should be one of your biggest priorities during or after your academic study. Like I have earlier mentioned, diversity is an important growth factor that everyone must acquire. If you get this right, together with a certificate, there is a high percentage that you will attain success.
Skills to Learn: While this is mostly personal, I can only mention the factors to consider to determine the right skill to acquire and also how to take advantage of them. To start with, these three reasons should be your drive to learn a skill:
- Advancing your Knowledge
- Following your Passion
- “Chasing the Bag (Money)”
An Explanation: Although there is nothing called “wastage of time” when it comes to knowledge acquisition, there is surely a way of being smarter with your time. Skills are meant to make you grow bigger as a problem solver, they are meant to open you to more opportunities and finally, get you a good job or good income.
This is the first time I am mentioning “income”, I will discuss more about what I mean when we get to the “Starting a Business” section of this article. As a job seeker, you have to move ahead of what you are taught in school by seeking out the right skill that can fulfill your purpose and get you a job. A skill directed towards practicality of where you hope to work is the skill to learn. For example, an engineer can advance his knowledge by learning the usage of all the Engineering Apps that is in use in the Industry, an Accountant can enrol for ICAN, a Computer Scientist can learn to code better, and so on. This gives you an advantage over all other job seekers without this knowledge.
Having knowledge of what is practicable in the industry gives you a bigger chance of getting employed. Also, the ability to follow your passion simply means you have grown to understand the smart thing you really enjoy doing but you have to be careful. Do not follow a passion that has no foresight or demand. That will really make you unwise.
Your passion must either have a great possibility of getting you a good income or be in high-demand in the labour market – Chasing the Bag. I am not an expert in psychology, but biologically, human beings are created to adapt to any particular situation and therefore making us have the rare ability to develop a passion for anything that we choose to put our mind in.
A skill that possesses great value and in high demand is where your passion should be directed towards, not a skill that offers no value. These skills will either get us a job or get us the bag (Money) and at the same time, put us in the forefront of solving people’s problems.
Chip in: A skill can only be in high-demand when it solves people’s problems. The bigger the problem solved, the more valuable the skill becomes.
“People’s Problems” also include the problem of your potential employer. There are a lot of skills that are in high demand in Nigeria which you can explore. Skills involving Marketing a Product or Service to potential customers, collecting leads, making sales and maintaining customers, will always be in-demand. In that case, you can grow your skills towards being a good “Physical & Digital Marketer”. Likewise, Financial Management, Information Technology, Computer Programming, Fashion Designing, among many others skills.
STEP 5: WRITE YOUR CURRICULUM VITAE (CV)
A CV is a brief presentation of your education, qualifications, experience and skills. Since you are a stranger to the employer, your CV is meant to give you a proper introduction. Presenting yourself in the best manner to the employer is highly important and this step should be treated with great importance.
In many cases, a good CV will always get you to the interview stage of a recruitment process, employers will never bother to invite you if your CV fails to meet their expected requirements or qualities.
As a job seeker, you must be able to refine your CV for each and every job application you put out. Employers’ Expectations are always different, as discussed in STEP 3, CV sent for Job Application A might not work for Job Application B.
In general, your CV is expected to have your name, address, phone number(s), email, professional summary, skills, education history, certifications and reference. I have written an article on how to write an ideal CV, you can check it out HERE to compose yours by yourself.
Your CV will reflect your understanding of yourself, the employers’ expectations and your experience. Remember, refine your CV to meet the employers’ expectations of each job you are applying for. If you are applying for the position of “Receptionist”, your CV should show the skills, certifications and experience you have to fit perfectly into the position of a receptionist. Similar process should apply for every position you are applying for.
In case you are applying for a new position, in which you have no experience, your CV should be refined to show the qualities and experience you have that will aid your performance in the role. Usually, that will be to show that you are a fast learner and team player with great track records.
STEP 6: SENDING YOUR JOB APPLICATION
Now that you are fully equipped with all the resources that can get you employed, it is time for you to present your file to the employer. There are three ways employers utilize to collect applications from job seekers, the first being by email, the second being through an application portal and the third being through a third-party application like LinkedIn. All of them are slightly different but the end result is the same – presenting yourself to the employer.
In this step, you will be required to write a Cover Letter. A Cover Letter is a One-Page document that introduces your person, your understanding of the job and your interest in applying for the job. Like your CV, your cover letter should always be refined towards the employers’ expectations for the position you are applying for.
The aim of the cover letter is to give the employer an insight of what you have achieved and can possibly achieve if given the job. This should make him/her eager to take a look at your curriculum vitae (CV).
Illustration: A good Cover Letter will grant you assurance of getting your CV read and a good CV will get you an interview.
A Cover Letter should follow this basic structure:
- Introduction: Carefully written to grab the hiring manager’s attention and explain why you want the job.
- Body paragraphs: At least two paragraphs detailing your relevant education, skills, work experience, and suitability for the job.
- Conclusion: A concise ending that reiterates your strengths, and asks the hiring manager to contact you (known as a call to action).
See the Example below:
“I am writing in respect to the job vacancy for the position of Digital Marketing and Communications Officer advertised on you Job Portal. I am a graduate of Physics from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. During my degree program, I focused my studies on communications physics exploring various means and methods of communication including the world wide web and especially, social media. As such, I am very interested in the position of Digital Marketing and Communication Officer being advertised.
I have worked in various capacities in companies of high standards among which are Airtel Networks Limited, Zeinth Bank and currently, Globacom Nigeria as a Digital Marketing Specialist in the Business Development Department, granting me several exposure and experience in information technology and core digital marketing strategies.
In addition, I am a certified digital marketer having undertaken a digital marketing course which entails – Market Research, Website Development, SEO Optimization, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Copywriting, Email marketing, YouTube marketing, Facebook marketing, Twitter marketing, Quora marketing, Google Adword, Google Analytics, Instagram marketing, Pinterest maraketing, LinkedIn maraketing, Facebook Ads and Application marketing.
Hopefully, my skills, experience and knowledge will match your needs and expectations for the position of Digital Marketing and Communication Officer.
Thank you for your time as I look forward to a favorable response from you.
My Name, email@example.com
Once your Cover Letter is ready, your application process will be a smooth sail.
For Jobs that requires you to send your CV to an Email, ensure you follow the instructions on what should be written in the Subject of the Mail and use the Content of your Cover Letter as the body of the Email before attaching your CV.
Many job seekers send blank emails containing just their CVs, this is totally wrong and will limit your chances of your mail being attended to. As for job applications collected through a portal, follow the prompts and upload your CV and Cover Letter where required.
STEP 7: PREPARE FOR THE NEXT STEP
After your job application has been submitted, employers process your application for the next step of the recruitment process. When your application meets the employers’ expectations, you will be invited for the next step. Understanding the steps of a recruitment process is important as it aids your preparation. While many companies will require you to take an exam or aptitude test, some will only invite you for an interview based on the contents of your CV and Cover Letter.
These are the common recruitment steps to note:
- Examination/Aptitude Test
Employers get the opportunity to test your academic strength through the aptitude test, in the real sense of it, they are trying to “reduce the number of qualified candidates”. The fact that you were invited for an aptitude test means your CV and other details meet the requirements, however, employers are looking for the best among the bests. You have to prepare for the test.
This is not the time to start telling stories of how much you hate Mathematics, or how you failed it without any consequence in the University. The employer really does not care and you definitely should not expect him to. Aptitude tests are designed to test your Verbal Skills, Arithmetic Skills, Logical Reasoning and in some cases, current affairs or environmental knowledge.
Various organizations have their different ways of setting questions, the most important thing to note is that all the questions will revolve around the aforementioned sections. Since there is no defined curriculum, the best way to prepare is by studying and answering “Sample Questions” popularly known as “Past Questions”. Learning Materials for Examinations like GMAT will also help to build the necessary readiness. This GMAT material has been found very useful, you can download it HERE and check it out.
- Situational Judgement Assessment
The is one of the modern methods of understanding a candidate’s personality and decision making ability. This test has no right answer, the questions are simply built on scenarios asking what your decision would be if confronted with such a scenario. In many cases, you would be given 5 or more decision options for which you would rank according to how you consider them fit.
The best way to answer these questions is to be real and smart while answering them, your answers must not contradict itself. In all, this is where employers get to have an idea of “the kind of person” you are.
- Job Interview
There have been a lot of talks and write ups on how to ace a job interview. If you have followed through the steps carefully, acing an interview might not be a challenge. The first thing to note here is that you must be confident but not proud. Confidence is in what you know and what you can offer the company. Employers need you as much as you need the job and getting the employer a straight on-point answer is the key.
Your understanding of the employers’ expectations will play its role in this stage. Remember that at this point, the employer believes you are smart, an analytical thinker, a problem solver and a team player, he/she only wants to see you in action. Do not let him/her down.
Before going for the interview, prepare your outfit and begin to assume the kind of questions that will be asked. Go back into the job responsibilities and look through how your role affects the operations of the company. Recruitment Managers will always ask direct and inferred questions trying to learn if you really understand what you are saying.
I have witnessed interviews where some candidates do not have the confidence to talk, they are “shy” [Laughs]. That is really very poor quality for such a brilliant person who got to the interview stage. Please throw away all your shyness when going for an interview. And why should you be shy in the first place?
If you passed the Interview stage, you are in and the next line of action would be to resume on a particular date. However, for some companies, you will be placed on probation – a process of testing or observing the character or abilities of a person who is new to a role or job. Do not joke with this process as it is meant to build confidence and trust with your employer.