By ‘Kayode Ajayi-Smith
Okay, I have often been as curious as you are regarding why that loved one of yours didn’t get the job after going through series of test for that dream jobs.
Aside from the usual claim that some private sector organizations have their way of compensating relatives of Government officials with job positions at their firms thus making selection process appear like another Nollywood movie, other factors play a huge role in why that loved one of yours didn’t get the job they applied for.
I took a taxi the other day and as we drove to the venue of my next meeting, my driver and I shared a short conversation about the above subject and it really gave me a perspective to the unemployment situation in the country. In trying to shed light on the situation with my driver, I recall telling him that there is indeed a way to apply and prepare for a job and that got him quiet startled. He admitted that he never knew that there were some specific steps to take in applying and preparing for jobs and therefore promised he was going to engage his children on the subject upon his return home later in the day.
Most of the time when the above subject comes up during discussions, a lot of my colleagues feel indifferent about my position on the subject and I am sure a lot of young people loathe me for it. My experience working with young people in helping them find full-time engagement in a country like ours (Nigeria) contributes to my stand on the subject and below are my thoughts on the subject matter:
Poor CV Presentation: It is bad enough that CVs are poorly prepared but most young people add insult to injury by presenting their CVs in a terrible manner. In recent times, I have seen CVs attached without a Cover Letter (application Letter) and I have seen CVs attached with forwarded messages, sometimes these forwarded messages have also been forwarded to at least 3 other recipients before been forwarded to the current prospective employer. So, if I was hiring for my organization and I came across a candidate who forwarded me a forwarded message, honestly, I won’t bother opening it especially when I have quite a number of CVs to screen. In my opinion, it portrays the candidate as a Lazy individual and an indiscipline person too.
Presentation is everything. There are samples of CVs and cover letters online and you can access them for free. Applicants should understand that the individuals who screen these CVs are human beings and not robot thus it is important that they present their CVs to attract whoever will be screening them, it’s not rocket science. Please always submit a cover letter with your CV even when it is not stipulated except only when it is stipulated that you submit only your CV. Never be in a hurry to submit your CV, take some time to study the job description and tailor your CV to suit the Job description.
Skills Gap: The 21st Century workplace is a very different one, so different from the past centuries. It is amazing the pace of the workplace today and just when you think you have acquired one unique ability, another requirement is announced and it appears you can’t seem to get a hold on what matters the most. As part of our Internship Connect program at Joint Initiative for Development (www.ji4d.org), we expose applicants who are mostly Graduates of tertiary institutions to the skills that are relevant in today’s workplace. From our research, we recognize amongst many other skills, Leadership, Time and Resource Management, Interpersonal, Problem Solving, Commercial Awareness, Life Long Learning, Computing, Written & Verbal Communication, and Global (Languages) skills as the most important in today’s workplace. Given the nature of the business atmosphere in Nigeria, employers will only hire individuals with a reasonable combination of the aforementioned skill set, this is beside the technicality of the job most times. For instance, An Accountant who graduated 2 years ago and who is given to Life Long Learning would have taken an extra course on Peach Tree or SAGE to ensure that he or she keep up with the pace of the growing requirements for the sector or subsector.
The best way of acquiring skills is to start doing. It is important to note that unless applicants act, no one will give them what they deserve. Volunteer, or take an internship and use the period to strengthen your skill and acquire new ones, always understand that what you learn determines what you earn. A lot of young persons want to earn so much but have little learning and experience to show for it.
Attitude Gap: This is one issue that continues to disqualify many applicants. One thing any employer cannot put up with even if the applicant of prospective employee trained at the best University in the world is an attitude problem. This brings me to the issue of communication.
Communication is not so much about the words you say, it is more about your body language and the tone of your voice. Experts have opined that at least 60% of your communication is through body language, 33% is through tone of your voice while on 7% of your communication is through the words you speak. Sometimes, you don’t have to say a word before people make an impression of you and only you are responsible for people’s perception of you that is why you must be deliberate about how you communicate.
Also, make it a habit to always be deliberate about how you present yourself, you can’t relate with everyone at the same level. A lot of colleagues argue that it is always good to be yourself always, true but why do we school Kings on how to behave at every instance, why do we school top executive on etiquette or why do we school our President on demeanor. If we school our Leaders, why should we not learn how to attract their favor or their attention? It is simply the same with our prospective employers, they are not robots, they have blood flowing through their veins.
You can’t appear cocky or rude and expect any employer to hire you or keep you on the job, it won’t happen because if you treat your employer in a certain way, there is a 99% tendency that you will treat his clients the same way. Always be polite, courteous and empathetic.
It is important for employees and prospective employees to understand that leading a business is not a regular cup of tea thus the need to sometimes try to see from the employers eye-view to understand why employers act the way they do. This is not to make Employers Saints but to help employees and applicants understand the nature of today’s workplace and prepare to succeed in it.
‘Kayode Ajayi-Smith is the Executive Director at Joint Initiative for Development, a youth-led Non-Profit registered in Nigeria. Joint Initiative for Development (JID) helps young people in securing internship and job placements. JID also helps public schools raise funds from Corporates and supports Micro Small and Medium-scale Enterprises with alternative strategies to increasing productivity. More information about JID can be found at www.ji4d.org
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