As the year draws to an end, I know that for many people one thing on their wish / goal list in 2017 – will be that new job.
Last week, I noticed that my friend had changed her name on Facebook. Essentially she had re-arranged the letters of her first name. Such that those who were already connected to her would still know she was the one. But strangers would find it difficult to find her on Facebook. I can’t be a 100% certain – but I assumed she was job hunting and possibly going through the interviewing process. I’ve also had a couple of recent conversations related to this so I thought I’ll write this piece.
Even though job hunting can be tough and difficult, there are some practical steps we can take to ease the process.
Here are a few:
1. Build up your CV:
Seems pretty obvious, doesn’t it? But you’ll be surprised how many people do not actually have an up to date CV or simply churn out the exact same CVs for different applications. On one of my enthusiastic days, I ran a twitter poll to find out when the average Nigerian wrote their first CV. Out of 325 responses, 60 % noted that they did so only after graduating from Uni. I couldn’t even judge because I fell into that category as well. There’s also another group of people who forget to update their CVs with their experiences and achievements simply because they are currently at a good place – job wise. The challenge then occurs when they need to move jobs, and it becomes difficult to clearly remember some of your achievements.
Writing a good CV takes time – and that probably requires a separate post on its own. But do some research, find out the best format to present your CV, tweak it for different roles. It’s also helpful to receive some feedback on it. Many times, the issue isn’t that we don’t have the required experience, but we have been unable to use words to clearly demonstrate how suitable we are.
2. Network (and let people know you’re looking!)
I remember saying to my not-so-little brother “Your network is your net worth”. It felt like the best thing he had heard ever and wouldn’t stop repeating the phrase to anyone who cared to listen, plus updated it on most of his social media channels. As I grow older, I realise how incredibly true that statement is. And it applies while job hunting – and I do not mean situations where ‘connections’ get you positions over merit. I mean, in simply being aware of opportunities and knowing what’s out there. If you do not know – how can you apply?
Because of our background, networking doesn’t come naturally to most people. As children, we are often told to speak only when spoken to and not to interrupt adults. As a result, many often find it difficult to approach people, engage in conversations and work a room. But it’s a skill we have to consciously learn. So don’t sit all day in your room with your computer trying to send out a mass of applications. That could be counter productive. Get out there, let people know you’re actively looking to move.
Think of your contacts and how they could possibly help. In today’s world – social media is such a great tool, and people have gotten opportunities via Twitter and Instagram from virtual connections and even without a face to face meeting. LinkedIn is also a powerful tool that you should maximise. I’ve seen people check their LinkedIn updates to “Searching for a role in…” and that’s sure to get some attention. I remember saying to someone that I didn’t want people to see the notification that I had checked them out on LinkedIn. But isn’t that what it’s for? So feel free to stalk people (within reason) and improve your connections.
Note social media etiquette while job hunting particularly as prospective employers could check out your feed. Be careful of what you’re sharing and tweeting and the kind of vibes you’re generally passing across.
3. Volunteer / Take courses / Start a Blog etc
I know, I know. It can be a hard one to sell. Like “I don’t have a job, and you want me to volunteer for free?”. But the reality is there are so many benefits to volunteering / un paid internships. It could very well help get a foot in the door and provide an opportunity to prove yourself.
Asides professional volunteering – being involved in social causes help you improve your network – some of whom you may never have met ordinarily. If you’re being extra efficient, you could even do some research and find out causes that potential employers engage in and get involved in those. There are also so many soft skills that could be gained through volunteering. In addition, it could help fill up any gap periods that would otherwise be on CV.
Other productive activities that you could engage in during this period include learning a skill or taking (free) online courses that could enhance your technical and soft skills. An activity like starting a blog could also prove useful as a way to show your interest and/or skills. I know of someone who was interested in a rather niche area of climate change and green policies. She started a blog writing relevant articles and forwarded these to prospective employers in that sector to show her genuine interest. It was a distinguishing factor to other applicants and something good did come out of it. If possible, you could even start your own business.
4. Take it Seriously & Believe in Yourself
While searching for jobs, you’ll have to put in the work – there’s often no short cut. Some people go all out and create excel spreadsheets while others are fine with paper updates. But either way, you will have to keep track of the firms you’ve applied to, those you need to apply to, persons to email and follow up – the entire spectrum! You’ll sign up to job websites, speak to recruiters, tweak your CV and write one cover letter after another.
In all of this, it’s important that you do not burn out. So take care of yourself and pick quality over quantity. Do not attempt to apply for every job which by a long stretch of your imagination you think you’ll be qualified for. It’s also a good idea to seek expert career advice if available and have practice interview sessions as much as you can. I’ve shared some interview tips here.
Finally, you need to believe in yourself and your ‘awesomeness’. My friend recently got her dream job and was explaining how she almost didn’t attend the interview because she didn’t think she was good enough. Thank God for her mother who knocked some sense into her by asking the all popular question “those that are there, do they have two heads?”
Blow your own trumpet and let people know what you can bring to the table. As an Igbo proverb says – when the lizard falls from a tree and looks around but finds nobody to praise it, it praises itself. Be careful though; there’s a thin line between confidence and arrogance and we want to be sure we are firmly on the side of the former. Don’t let one rejection bring you down. Always ask for feedback, see the positives in them and keep moving!
What challenges have you faced with job hunting and do you have any extra tips to share?
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AmyDecember 19, 2016 at 17:56
I concluded my NYSC in May and I’ve been job hunting ever since. I think I hv a pretty good cv and even though I don’t have a first class degree, I believe in myself and what I have to offer. It’s difficult not to “burn out” trust me..I think I have. Before the end of nysc I seemed like the most eligible to land a job amongst my friends because I had done my IT at known multinational and was serving at a nice place as well. My entire service year was spent working 8-5/6 in an industrial laboratory..I did learn/do a lot. I honestly thought I stood a better chance than my friends who taught or had no ppa at all but the joke is on me now. Ive updated and tweaked my cv tirelessly and everything else on this list besides volunteering.. I don’t know how to go about it. I’ve talked to ppl I thought could help but all they want to do is “hv a drink” with me after which they proceed to tell me how bad the country is and how no one is currently hiring. I had/hv a list of companes I sent out my cv too, I must hv applied to about 70 jobs since may/June and I’ve gotten just about 3 regret mails. I’ve beginning to second guess myself. I turn 25 in the next 3 months , this wasn’t what I had planned for myself. I should hv finished uni at 21 but for my unseriousness ,I thought that regret would phase out as soon as I get a good job but look what’s happening now! Mama has started the “look for husband” talk already since I don’t hv a job and I’ve cut off almost all the friends I made during nysc because I’ve become too ashamed to keep saying I don’t have a job yet. I honestly don’t want to volunteer, God knows my family and I need money right now but I’m willing to try. How do I go about it in lagos? I joined the SLA family shortly after service and attend one of their bootcamps but I soon realised it was no place for someone who wants a career.. it’s simply for business minded people and entrepreneurs and I’ve tried but I can’t seem to find my entrepreneurial spirit. Do I also volunteer anywhere ?doesn’t hv to be the industry where I want a career in? Please help me. I need to get it right in 2017. Thank you.
Kachee || KacheeTee.comDecember 21, 2016 at 18:50
I can absolutely relate with you. And sometimes even after doing all of the right things – it still doesn’t still go our way. Like you said, it’s easy to say don’t burn out. But we really do not have a choice. We have to keep trying! If you can email me, maybe I’ll see if there’s any other way I can help.
AmyDecember 22, 2016 at 10:08
Thank you for your kind words ma’am. God bless you.
Praise AbuDecember 19, 2016 at 23:48
Getting a good job is definitely at the top of my list for my plans for 2017. I’m so glad you shared this post, I’ve been doing a lot of things wrong and that’s going to change.Thanks Kachi for sharing this.My Style Look Book Series
Kachee || KacheeTee.comDecember 21, 2016 at 18:45
You’re welcome Praise! I def pray you get a great job in 2017.
Praise AbuDecember 22, 2016 at 07:34
Amen!!!!My Style Look Book Series
middleclassnigeriangirlDecember 20, 2016 at 05:59
Great tips you have here. One of the reasons why I love your blog is that I learn new interesting things every single time.middleclassnigeriangirl.wor…
StephylatelyDecember 21, 2016 at 21:45
I think out of all these tips, believing in yourself is important. I can relate to the time when I was applying for a placement role round about this time last year, two of my friends has secured their roles in top companies and there I was still struggling. I went from one job interview to the other, CV was top notch and I executed the interviews with much confidence but alas the rejections kept on coming. Now its about that time that I started losing confidence and started doubting my self and my capabilities not until I snapped out of that bubble and started to believe in myself . You know what, two months later, I got my placement role as a Business Analyst, and currently still on it till September. I hope people take these tips and put them into practice.xwww,stephylately.com
pagesbyikeDecember 22, 2016 at 02:25
Igbo proverbs though. I did not see the end coming. Lol. Believing in yourself and placing value on your competencies is definitely important. Confidence, networking, editing that CV…writing great cover letters help a great deal too!Super work, Kacheetee. ;0)Pagesbyike.com
subomi salamiDecember 24, 2016 at 14:02
Believing in one’s self and engaging in other productive activities are definitely necessary. Networking too! Great tips dearmyfashionmusings.com
A girl calledDecember 26, 2016 at 21:52
I fall into this categoryof job hunt and I’m happy my choice of starting a blog is one of your points