Earlier today, I spoke with a younger family member who recently landed her first job, less than a month after wrapping up her National Youth Service Corps. Besides congratulating her and telling her how elated I was that she’s got her career going, I inquired if she now knows how to touch-type (She works as a secretary for a Chartered Accountant). I also asked her to let me in on how she got her job so quickly when there are reportedly thousands of applications for one job opening in Nigeria. She told me that her boss, who also has seven other employees, told her during the job interview that though he got several applications in response to the job advertisement, the primary reason he chose her was that her application showed that she was from the same local government area as the boss.
Recently too, another relative got two separate job offers in one week despite having been to tens of job interviews in the past year that proved unsuccessful. What he did differently in the last two interviews was that he mentioned that he lived close to the prospective workplaces to the interviewers. One reason I believe that the ‘proximity line’ played a role in his been hired, besides his solid skills of course, was that after one of the job interviews, a member of the panel who he ran into outside the interview area commented on the proximity line and how that was a factor to consider for the location the job was situate. While I am not outrightly suggesting that living close to a prospective employer’s workplace will land you the job, my relative’s experience taught me that it is a good idea to mention all the reasons one should get the job over other candidates during a job interview as something seemingly irrelevant as the location of one’s residence may be the deal or tiebreaker.
While employment agencies will tell you that having a well-formatted resume, wearing your best suits, being clean-shaven, given the interviewers a firm handshake, etc, will land you your dream job, there are some other things you need to know.
First: about 80% of jobs are landed through networking. ( I know that sucks especially if you don’t have a Godfather somewhere or influential friends and relatives, but that is the reality. See this post for my view on Nepotism). I got my present job, my first in the US, through a kind contact I met from blogging. What is more, the two most recent jobs my employer filled in my office were filled with people current employees already know. Why take out a Craigslist advert and be inundated with hundreds of applications from strangers when you can use old-fashioned word of mouth to get a trickle of quality applications from people for whose skill and integrity existing employees can vouch. If networking plays such an important role in job placement, you see how if you don’t tell that your aunt who works with a federal parastatal that you are looking for a job, she may not remember you when her organization has a job opening in your field.
Second, with internet and social media, you have more opportunity now than ever to land your dream job. Many young people (in Nigeria and elsewhere) have created a career for themselves by harnessing the diverse opportunities made possible by the internet. Yagazie Emezi is landing magazine covers by taking pictures of sunsets and Lagos skyline (she does more than that; I admire her because she uses skills we often overlook); Linda Ikeji is making millions of Naira every month by culling pictures and stories from celebrities’ social media presence to create content for her gossip blog; I have made a mental note to retain Arese Ugwu as my financial adviser in future when I have resources to make an investment; Every week I visit SisiYemmie’s blog/vlog where she creates a weekly video documenting her life in Lagos (watching her videos make me miss Nigeria more); Uche Pedro shies away from the media but her Bella-Naija, a celebrity and fashion blog, draws more than ten million views every month.
While most of the people mentioned above have become entrepreneurs and most employers can no longer afford them, anyone can create a quality online presence with a view to finding employment. Blogging doesn’t cost a dime. All it takes is your free time and a free domain from WordPress or Blogspot. You already waste hours everyday on social media updating your knowledge of who got married and who gave birth, why not make it translate into an opportunity and money-making venture for you? You can also start small by creating industry-related insightful content on your Facebook page. A lady whose expertise is photography got contacted and was offered a job as a photographer by someone who saw pictures she took on her Facebook page. A few months ago, I saw in the news that a woman got a job as a sign language interpreter by posting an interpretation of one of Eminem’s song on Youtube. In other words, leverage the power of the social media to showcase your talent. Besides a strong online presence being an asset to a future employer in industries like marketing, by creating quality content that attest to your skill and character, an employer will readily hire you than strangers who he would have to vet and only hope for the best after employing them.
Although social media can help in your job search, it can also mar your chances of getting employed. Your not-so-decent Facebook photos not only lead people to cast aspersions on your character but may also create a doubt in a prospective employer’s mind in your ability to perform the job. A few years ago, a married girlfriend told me she was looking through my Facebook friends to find someone to recommend to a young man who was seriously looking for a significant other. So don’t underestimate opportunities you can get from Facebook and how having a less than reputable Facebook persona will make people pass you over. Anytime you want to post a message that may harm your career, quickly remind yourself that thousands of people have lost their jobs over something they posted on their social media account, and then reconsider if the post is worth it.
To sum up, in addition to whatever advice you have been given on job search, do the following: network, create insightful career-related content on your social media accounts, and edit your online reputation for negative content. And when you get invited for an interview, research the panel if you know the members’ names ahead of time. Casually mentioning your love for Kobe to an interviewer that is a Lakers fan,or failing to do so, may well be the difference between your making a slam dunk or throwing an air ball.
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PS: How did you land your first job? Please share your experience and advice for job seekers in the Comments Sections. Are you surprised to learn that 80% of jobs are filled through referrals? Other readers and I value your contribution.