Recurring Mistakes when Job Hunting

According to an article by Stears Business, an educated Nigerian is more likely to be unemployed than the average Nigerian. In 2018, the national unemployment rate was at 23% (this has most certainly increased due to COVID-19), In summary, Nigeria is producing fewer jobs compared to the population growth. Nigeria produces about 500,000 graduates every year and only 53% can secure jobs leaving 47% unemployed. In a country like Nigeria, where the supply exceeds the demand exponentially job seekers need to be creative in how they approach their search. We will talk about 5 mistakes applicants make while job hunting.
  1. Lack of a Job-Hunting Strategy: Looking at the statistics shared above it is evident that many graduates are chasing fewer jobs. I have heard people say they have sent 100s of applications & have been rejected or no response on their applications. The impact of these rejections on a young graduate can be very challenging which is why it is important to have a strategy to increase your success rate & reduce the rejections. You should have a list of the industries you would like to work in & where you feel your skills will give you an advantage over other applicants. Make a list of these companies you are interested in, conduct your research covering the company, employees & its core values. Another important factor to consider is the recruitment pattern; how have they been recruiting in the last 3 years, what information can you harvest online & if possible, from current or past employees. Take time to read the career page & the “about” section of the websites & their LinkedIn page. Also, don’t be afraid to start small & work your way up.
  2. Error-Ridden Resumes and Cover Letters: Not investing the time to ensure your resume and cover letters are error-free can be costly. Little mistakes on your resume and cover letter can stand out in a long way and can impact if you will be invited for an interview or not. During a recruitment process, I found a lot of candidates with bizarre applications, some sent cover letters for a different job title, others sent in resumes that look like it was prepared by a primary school student, it was appalling. When job hunting, you must get into the habit of proofreading your resume and cover letter. Several free sites can point out errors or do it the old fashion ways, print out and give to a few people to review for you. In another recruitment I was managing, candidates were sending me an application forwarded from the previous job they applied for, others just did me an “FYI” in the body of the email (I did not bother to look at the application, I pressed the delete button).
  3. Not using your Network Adequately: A lot of job seekers think their job search should be a private process, at the early stage of your career this shouldn’t be the case but as you grow professionally, you will want to keep it private and use headhunters for specific roles. As you start your career, there is nothing wrong with asking your network to support you on your journey. Your network can be from your school alumni, religious organizations, LinkedIn, friends and family. However, I must send a word of caution here as the tendency to misuse your network is very high and will cast aspersion on your credibility. You should never become a pest, use these networks strategically. No one likes to be hounded constantly by an unrelenting stranger. One phone call to follow up on a job application is acceptable; anything beyond that gets you too close to the “annoying” pile. An example is using your network to research a company or an industry you are interested in and they can, in turn, refer you to people that work in those companies or industries.
  4. Relying only on Job websites for vacant positions: Job websites are great places to find vacancies, sites like LinkedIn, Indeed, Getjobs.ng, Ngcareers, Jobberman, (maybe Nairaland) to mention a few. Most job seekers tend to focus their search on jobs that are posted externally. A lot of multinational organizations run employee referral schemes, the employees know what the organization is looking for and would be able to refer you. 14 years ago, while I was starting my career, and at that time it was mostly the Banks that were hiring consistently. While applying to Oceanic Bank I got insider intel to select locations outside Lagos when applying as this was discussed internally that the Bank was expanding to regions outside Lagos. I applied with 3 of my friends who despite me telling them of this intel still went ahead to choose Lagos while applying. Those of us selected outside Lagos were contacted for the assessment in Ibadan, subsequently interviewed and then posted to locations in Lagos. Never underestimate the power of internal intel.
  5. Lack of Personal Branding: This is the overall perception of you as a candidate. This comes with the type of email address you use, the content of your cover letter and resume, the quality of your overall application and the way you carry yourself into an interview. I have experienced where candidates appear completely different in person compared to their resume both good and bad. Invest in your personal development, attend grooming and personal branding sessions to help improve yourself. Clean up your social media presence as some organizations do check how active you are and what is content you put out there as part of the background check.
Finally, I always tell people, there is absolutely nothing you can do about people that compete with you for a job, but you are in control of the impression you leave with the hiring manager. I have offered people jobs for different roles they applied for after interviewing them. I wish you all the best!

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