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Fresh in the job market?
You are probably wondering what life in the job market looks like and confused about how to get started.
The job market is deeply saturated and if you don’t arm yourself with the necessary tools you will remain on the bench longer than you can imagine.
Before you launch out your job search, here are few things you should know:
Getting a job through existing connections only is not definitive
No doubt you have heard the popular notion that you cannot get a good job without connections. While this may seem true, a lot of people are getting employed daily based on their competence. You too can be one of them!
Shake off of this belief, be optimistic and focus on making yourself employable.
The competition is fierce
Your degree is not enough to land the job. There is serious competition out there! Therefore, you must make yourself stand out by acquiring the necessary 21st-century workplace skills.
Learn how to use Microsoft Office Tools such as Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Corel Draw, etc. Learn how to type with considerable speed and improve your communication skills (verbal and written).
Experience is advantageous
“I just graduated.”
That’s not an excuse! Do not wait until you can get a six-digits paying job. While you are still looking out for better opportunities, start building your experience by taking on small pay jobs, volunteering in organizations or NGOs, working as an intern, etc. Time is essential, so don’t just stay idle waiting for a big job.
Know your industry
What was your course of study? What career path do you want to take? Have these clearly defined and don’t be in a hurry to take just any job. Be specific on the industry you want to work in, learn the relevant skills and requirements needed.
Networking is key
The more people you talk to people about job opportunities, the higher your chances of getting a job. Let your friends, significant others, church members, and relations know you are job hunting. They will have you in mind whenever an opportunity comes up. Send copies of your CV to people you feel could be of help.
Social media can hurt your chances of getting hired
Some employers run a background check on their prospective employees to get a sense of their social life before deciding whether to hire them or not. Keep your social media posts and pictures as decent and professional as possible. Use your accounts as a tool for job search. Set up a professional LinkedIn profile if you do not have one already and ensure potential employers can get a feel of the professional you.
Learning is continuous
The largest room in the world is the room for improvement. Don’t discard your learning materials and never stop learning/getting better at your craft just because you have graduated. Look up courses in your area of interest whether free or paid. Show these courses in your CV as these will tell any potential employer that you are teachable and are willing to work.
Bonus point: Your career path and those of your friends are different. Do not make comparisons.
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Some interview questions seem really tough and difficult to answer, but if you calm down and really look at them, you will find that it is actually not as hard as it seems. Employers use these questions to choose the best amongst equals.
The meaning behind this interview question:
When a hiring manager asks you – “Why do you think you are qualified for this position?” or “Do you feel your skills and experience match the job description?” or “Do you feel that you have the skills and experience required for this job?” He/she wants to know if you understand the requirements for the position and what makes you a must have.
You are not going to get away with a simple “I am qualified for this position because I have all the skills you need” answer. The hiring manager expects you to explain (with examples) precisely how your skills and experience match the job description. However, this doesn’t mean you should give him/her a long lecture, make it brief, concise and packed with evidence. This is why you should prepare thoroughly before the interview, it will give you the time to determine in advance what skills and experience you possess that the interviewer is going to be interested in.
How to prepare for this interview question:
- Make a list of requirements and criteria for the job criteria not only from the job description provided by the company but also from your knowledge of the industry and adverts for similar positions.
- Identify all skills and experience you have that match the criteria
- Give examples of your work, past projects, fieldwork, academic qualifications that demonstrate you have the said skills or experience.
- State additional skills that fit into the role and sets you apart from other candidates.
Sample answers for different roles
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- “I believe my skills and experience match the person specification. You’re looking for someone with high-level of experience in the oil and gas industry. I have 20 years’ experience in this sector, most recently as General Manager of an oil conglomerate in Lagos.”
- “You need someone with extensive skill in financial management, able to build turnover and, most importantly build turnover profitably. In my past role as a branch manager, I headed a team that realized an annual turnover of 50 million – 30% higher than when I took up the job two years ago.”
- “The role you are looking to fill demands an individual who is adept at managing and leading a large team. I am responsible for 50 sales staff at my current workplace. Together we drive profitable sales, build and maintain profitable long-term relationships with key, high-value clients.”
- “I have good administrative skills and I believe I will be an asset to your office. I have fast typing skills and proficient in Microsoft Office applications including programs such as Adobe Photoshop, QuickBooks.”
Administrative positions are one of the most available jobs you can find.
Every organization no matter the industry needs an admin person working behind the scenes to ensure everything is in place. The support duties administrative staff performs, make them more or less the oil that steers the wheels of every organization. Failure to perform certain tasks like stocking up office supplies, managing and communicating information, completing paperwork in time, making travel arrangements, etc. usually slow down operations of units depending on them to function.
What makes a good administrative staff?
There will always be skills specific to this role. To nail that interview you must demonstrate that you have the said skills.
Gird up, let’s walk you through these skills.
- Good Organisational Skills:
To help your boss organise and keep track of his schedules, you must first be able to do so for yourself. You will be expected to handle many details and challenging situations all at once. Be on top of your game by learning the hack of planning your day and schedule using google productivity apps such as calendars programs, to-do list apps, google hangouts, messaging apps, etc. Develop a system to set aside completed and uncompleted tasks to prevent clutter, coordinate the flow of paperwork around the office, and manage your time properly, etc.
- Multitasking Ability:
Most part of your job as an administrative staff will require you efficiently juggle between many activities and still keep a cool head without crumbling under pressure. You don’t want to give your boss the impression that you can’t come up to speed with the needs of the office or you’re a sloth who can’t handle more than one simple task at a time.
- Basic Computer Skills:
Proficiency in basic computer programmes is a top requirement if you must shine as an administrative person. Employers want to see that you can type, edit and format documents, use Microsoft PowerPoint, Excel spreadsheet, Access, Outlook, Keynote, Numbers, etc. to process data, manage databases, prepare presentations, budgets or present financial information, etc. These tools drive business productivity, therefore, being able to use them increases your value to the organization.
- Stamina to Work Under Pressure:
You will be expected to deliver on strict deadlines and it is your duty to ensure whoever you are giving support duties does not miss any given deadline. You must be on your A-game at all times.
- Writing and Proofreading:
Learn to prepare documents to meet standards. Your reports must be excellently written without typos or grammatical errors. Know how to write cutting edge reports, minutes, memos, emails, newsletters, and how to use apps such as Grammarly, or Plagiarism Checker to proofread your write-ups for possible errors.
- Management and Problem-solving Skills:
If your job is to support a top executive, you must learn how to coordinate and manage the affairs of other clerical staff like the typists, receptionists & cleaners, handle their request on your boss’ behalf or delegate work to them. An effective assistant troubleshoots conflicts among other office personnel, works with vendors to keep office supplies in stock and changes the boss’ schedule when need be not forgetting to communicate same to him and the people concerned.
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After weeks of uncertainty and waiting, Alice was called for a job interview in a company she has been applying to. She covered her tracks well, read up all there was to know about the job and the company, and practiced her interview questions and answers. Although the role she interviewed for was a highly competitive role, she went prepared. She answered the questions thrown at her correctly. But what she didn’t know was that the interviewer had this to say on her performance report sheet.
“Alice has the paper qualifications for the role, but she left an impression that she does not have an open personality and may have a hard time relating with clients and vice versa considering this is a customer service role.”
The above is an illustration of how a jobseeker lost a job opportunity because of a negative body movement she probably didn’t even know she was exhibiting.
Your body language can knowingly or unknowingly affect your chances of getting hired. Considering there are tons of qualified candidates vying for the same job you are, it behooves you to leave no stone unturned as you step into that interview room.
Here are body language mistakes you may be making and should keep in check next time you attend an interview.
- Keeping an expressionless face – Don’t get the recruiter feeling uncomfortable with your aura as this may give them the impression that you may not be a trustworthy person. Let a little enthusiasm and excitement/passion be seen in you.
- Shifting or slouching in your seat – Even if you can’t wait to finish with the interview and skip over to the part where you know your fate. Do not give the interviewer the impression that you are bored or tired even if he goes on and on with several lines of questioning.
- Avoiding eye contact – This can make the interviewer think you are dishonest or nervous
- Biting your lips – Doing this can make you look anxious or nervous
- Scratching your head – If you do this anytime the interviewer asks you a question, he/she will take it that you are confused and don’t know what you are doing.
- Flaring nostrils – This will only make the interviewer think you are angry and frustrated with the whole process
- Folding your arms – Don’t do this at any interview, if you do not want to be perceived as being angry, defensive and negative
- Raising eyebrows – This will make the interviewer think you are unimpressed, surprised or unprepared
- Tapping feet – This will pass the message that you are impatient, bored, anxious or nervous
As you tell the recruiter how much of an asset you will be to them, do not let your body tell them something else.
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There is a big difference between spoken and written English. While you can speak without paying much attention to grammar and spelling rules, it is not the same with writing.
When writing you are conveying your thoughts to the reader via blocks of texts. Therefore, you must observe all writing rules so your reader can understand the message you are trying to pass across. The purpose of a CV is to grab the attention of employers telling them “Hey, I am the one you are looking for. Hire me!”
To avoid making numerous writing blunders on your CV, read this carefully.
What makes up a good sentence?
- Always start a sentence with a capital letter
- Do not write in all caps for large amounts of text. It’s distracting, hard to read and it looks like you’re shouting at people!
- End a sentence with a punctuation mark Eg. A full stop (.) or an exclamation mark (!) or a question mark (?)
- Use a comma before any conjunction that links two independent clauses. e.g and, but, for, or, nor, so, yet.
- Use a comma after a word or sentence that cannot stand on its own
- Maintain finger spaces between each word. No too much white space
- Start with action verbs like “Delivered,” “Achieved,” “Produced,” etc.
- Keep sentences short
- Use bullet points for achievements so they are noticed.
- Break down information into bits rather than having large blocks of text.
- Maintain the use of plain English. Do not use ambiguous words
- Don’t rely only on spellcheckers, read through your CV.
Dos and Don’ts
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- Do write a personal profile, career summary or objective
- Do get your tenses right. If you are employed write the responsibilities and accomplishments in your current job in the present tense. E.g. Delivering, Handling. If you are writing about a past job, use past tense. E.g. Delivered, Handled.
- Do show the most important achievement first, starting with the quantifiable accomplishment. For example, “Increased sales revenue by 60% .”
- Don’t use humor, slangs, or profanity on your CV. No matter how ‘casual’ the potential company’s culture is, your CV must portray professionalism.
- Don’t forget to list your qualifications
A referral is one of the best sources for finding new career/ business opportunities and securing job interviews. Though getting a referral might not automatically land you a new job, you will have a better chance of getting hired if a reputable person refers or recommends you for a position. It opens a pathway for you to demonstrate that you are worth being given a shot.
Here is our 5-step strategy for getting referrals.
- Stay in the radar:
Social media has made it quite easy to keep in touch with industry professionals and follow up on job openings as they pop up daily. Leverage on your social media accounts to reach out to top-level executives (influencers) that may be instrumental to your getting picked for the position. Send a creative intro to them detailing what you do and your value proposition accompanied with a CV. Check-in once in a while to make sure they don’t forget about you in their busy schedules but be careful not to act like a pest.
- Build Trust:
You can get referred for a job without necessarily practicing pushy sales pitch. This can only happen if you build confidence in people. In your daily relations with others, build confidence and trust through your actions. If you ever get a chance to serve in any capacity, be diligent and deliver what you promise and when you promise. Do not overpromise and under-deliver.
- Create value in your current role:
Make every job you do or the role you play outstanding. Always keep in mind that your job is important and contributes to the overall success of the company. If you do not take your job seriously, it will reflect on the output through your careless attitude towards it. Add an extra touch to any task you are given to perform. This reinforces point 2. Having a quantifiable track record of value-added makes it easy for you to be recommended for other open positions within the workplace or even for a promotion.
- Provide a solution:
Take the bull by the horn and be proactive. Get in touch with a resource person in a company you would love to work in, identify their current need or challenge, map out a possible solution then write a proposal for them giving hints on your idea then request for a one-on-one to provide a breakdown of your idea if they are interested.
- Attend and network at industry events:
Attend industry events and be on the lookout for employers or company reps whom you think may be of help. Go prepared to deliver an elevator pitch whenever an opportunity presents itself. Angle to see if there are any opportunities they can refer or recommend you to.