Major Misconceptions of a Young Graduate

by Yeyetunde Caxton-Martins HR Officer at RS Hunter Limited, December 01, 2015

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A number of young graduates enter the labour market with impractical expectations. Sometimes it appears that their immediate focus is to secure a big oil and gas job with a multinational firm.  This is exacerbated by the economic situation in the country which has resulted in most graduates being torn between what they really want to do and the need to work for a high paying organisation.

vennThis inner conflict usually affects their immediate choices which can negatively impact their chosen career path as well as their sense of fulfillment and job satisfaction.  As a recent graduate myself, I am usually speaking to my peers when I ask these questions:

  1. Have you decided on your chosen career path?
  2. Have you been able to secure your first job?
  3. Do you have a sense of job satisfaction?

I have decided to leave the subject of self-fulfillment to another day as I have come to realise that this is not a question for only young graduates.
February-15-2012-02-08-02-tumblrlzb3x4XUTa1r5uwyno1500In my current role as a HR officer with a consulting firm I am expected to participate in a certain number of interviews each month.  A few months ago I was on a panel interviewing candidates for an entry level position in a small and medium scale company.  The young lady had recently completed her National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) year and had no work experience however when asked about her career aspirations and salary expectations she responded “I would like to secure a job with a multinational firm and travel the world.  My expectation for the role would be N8,400,000 gross”  Now, as a HR practitioner, I commend her self-confidence and aspirations however; are they realistic and is an interview the right place to dream big?  I was curious so I asked her to enlighten us on the basis for her high expectations. Unfortunately, she didn’t have an answer and it became clear that her statement was simply a desire.

I was intrigued by the fact that all the candidates I met that day happened to have similar responses to ‘Candidate A’ so by the end of the day I was driven to make two major conclusions regarding the expectations of a young graduate.

1. If I get good grades I will become a high-flyer when I graduate.

d8b00134f0b2def18ee5101b7aa698e7There appears to be a lack of appreciation for the work that is required to move up the career ladder for any profession. Is it me or is there is an expectation that when you graduate, you go immediately to the US or the UK for a Master’s degree programme; return and then waltz into a good job? This may be the story of a lucky few but the unfortunate reality is that this is not the case for most young graduates. Based on a ‘back of the envelope’ survey I carried out I have come to the conclusion that pursuing a higher degree immediately after the first degree is closely linked to who is paying (I’ll expatiate on this in another post.)

 

2. All good jobs pay a lot of money

Money (not career opportunities or aspirations) is the key motivator for many young graduates.  There are well established firms in Nigeria that will imbibe in you good work ethics, expose you to the professional working environment, invest in your training as well as encourage a balance between your work and home life.  Don’t stay fixated on the oil & gas, banking and telecommunication sectors and even if you do, you don’t necessarily have to start with the big ones.

While we do not all think alike, these myths appear to be holding many young graduates back from starting their careers and setting the right foundation for growth.

One of my favourite quotes by Anais Nin is “Dreams pass into the reality of action. From the actions stems the dream again; and this interdependence produces the highest form of living.”

c898572bee3a677656f9dd9c7b872123While there is absolutely nothing wrong with having high expectations, “The distance between your dream and reality is called action.”  You must work hard to make your dream a reality so pace yourself, grow yourself and while you are doing these, stand out.  I believe that if you are knowledgeable, professional, persistent and confident; one day your ideal will become your reality.

Are There Actually no Jobs in Nigeria?

by Olateju Oladapo HR Officer at RS Hunter Limited , November 16, 2015 

No-Vacancy-SignWe’ve all heard it said time and again that there are no jobs in Nigeria but what does this really mean? Are there really no jobs or could it be the that we don’t have adequately qualified people to fill the vacant positions that exist? Could it be that job seekers lack the necessary information and strategy required to effectively job hunt or perhaps some have allowed this popular saying to negatively affect their desire to go out and actively search.

InternshipDiagramYoung graduates these days envision big things and have lofty ideas.  Few desire to start small and most are looking for big paying job right at the start of their career despite lacking work experience. It’s okay to aim high but it is also important to be realistic with yourself.  During periods of high unemployment, seek voluntary positions and internship opportunities to build your workplace experience.  Remember, at the beginning of your career while you have potential, you offer very little to your employer who is investing in you by giving you exposure to the working environment which enables you meet and rub minds with fellow professionals – in some cases employers may also invest in formal training courses.  It is only after a few years of ‘cutting your teeth’ at your chosen career that you can aim for higher paying positions, at which time your competency will do the talking.

What are employers looking for?

  1. Drive: Do you have the impulse to achieve excellence?
  2. Culture fit: Will you fit into the way things are done in the organisation?
  3. Communication skills: Are you able to communicate effectively using oral,
    Job Offerwritten and presentation methods?
  4. A strong and positive online presence: What does your LinkedIn profile say about you?
  5. A good resume: Have you been able to summarise and present who you are in a way that captures their attention?
  6. Workplace skills: Does your experience and description of who you are highlight key skills (time management, problem solving etc) that will make you excel in the workplace?
  7. Reliable and hardworking: Can your employer count on you?

Some tips for job seekers

You may be right that there are fewer jobs than people who require them, but the fact that the vacancies exist means you must position yourself as much as you can to successfully land your chosen job.

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Here are some tips:

  1. You need to ask yourself what you want, how you intend to get what you want and what you need to do to get there.
  2. Have a list of companies you would like to work with.
  3. Know the position or field you would like to specialize in e.g. Administration, Finance, Marketing, IT, Human Resources etc. Do your research on the skills and competencies required to be effective in your chosen field.
  4. Participate in training courses (online, classroom etc) to acquire the skills you are deficient in.
  5. Review your CV, make sure it’s short, precise and free of grammatical errors.
  6. Prepare yourself for interviews, read up on how to prepare for an interview, likely interview questions and how to answer them.
  7. Pick up opportunities to volunteer in your chosen field.
  8. Contact prospective employers directly if you can ( LinkedIn would be a good tool). Do not harass them!
  9. Stay focused, don’t relent in your search – job hunting is a job itself!

dart-job-search-targetYou must believe there is a job out there waiting for you but while you are still looking for it, make yourself employable by acquiring basic soft skills employers desire to see in employees.  All things said, success starts in the mind.  Change your mantra.  Wake up every morning believing there are jobs in Nigeria and say to yourself “I am going out there today and I will be getting mine!”