I decided to write some career advice for job-seekers in Nigeria, especially fresh graduates and fresh out-of-NYSC folks, let me give you a piece of advice that you might find useful:
See your job-seeking process as a business.
When you want to start a business, you don’t just jump into anything and expect to find customers. You must be as strategic as possible.
One of the things business consultants tell you is that before you start a business, you need to do a market survey. What do people want to buy? What are people spending their money on? What is selling in the market?
Then after finding that out, you can decide what you want to start selling. That way, you’re starting a business not based on how you feel or just what you’re passionate about but what actually sells in the market.
Back to your job search…
So, you studied, let’s say Zoology at school and you need a job now. The questions you should ask yourself realistically are:
1. Are there job opportunities in my field? There is no problem admitting that there are no/limited job opportunities in the field you studied. If there are no job opportunities in your field, and you still stick to it in the hopes of not giving up, you’re certainly not being realistic and you will keep searching for a job that either doesn’t exist or doesn’t exist readily to you.
2. What sells in the market?
You have to understand that certain skills are more searched for than others. Find some time and go to myjobmag or jobberman and see the different job vacancies so you can have an idea of what jobs companies mostly need. You can also google “jobs near me” and select a field in your area of interest or competence.
3. Your aim at this point is to do two things:
a. Research the most required fields i.e., fields that most recruiters or companies are looking at hiring.
b. Research the wages/salaries of these various fields.
The essence of b above is to ensure that you’re not just on the lookout for a skill that employers need but a skill that they can actually pay for. There are fields that are quite “popular” but don’t pay much. There are also skills that are not so popular but actually pay a whole lot.
4. After discovering what sells in the market, decide what you would like to launch a career in. If you really loved your Zoology course at school, you probably would find it hard. If you’re also religious, there is a high chance that you want to keep praying and hoping that a miraculous job in your field will find you soon. No, don’t do that to yourself.
Another challenge that you might have is you thinking you’re not interested in a particular field. Please, if the field sells, I don’t know what you’re talking about. I want to start learning how to code and don’t be surprised if I become a UI/UX designer in the next year. No, I don’t like to code. But like business, you don’t need to love what you sell before you actually sell it. You’re in business to sell. If that’s what the market wants, well, what are you doing for yourself?
5. After deciding the fields that you’d like to start to major in, the next step to take is to draw out a plan to start learning actively about it. There are four ways you can learn in this regard:
a. Online courses. There are tons of online courses that might be free or paid on Google and they mostly come with certificates too. Online courses allow you to grow knowledge in that particular field. Don’t take this for granted. Blogs and ebooks are also amazing but courses are more procedural than these so it’s easier for you to learn when you’re just starting out.
b. Find the top players in that field online and follow them. If you don’t know, you can ask on your timeline. Say something like, “Do you know someone who does SEO on your list? Please mention them.” People will mention those they know and then you can follow these people, turn on post notifications for their tweets or posts, send them a connection request on LinkedIn and sell yourself whenever the need arises.
c. Look out for opportunities to develop experience. You might be lucky to find a job that pays you without experience and you might not be that lucky. So look out for internship or volunteer opportunities in this field. If you can afford it, you can write to a company that specializes in that field and ask to do a free internship with them. This is not compulsory.
d. Start to build thought leadership around this field online. This would mean taking your different online platforms seriously and regularly talking about the particular field as you have learnt. Say you’re in SEO, you can start out by doing a post on SEO once a week. Over time, you’ll register in the minds of your followers as someone who can take up roles on SEO.
This might not be exhaustive but I really hope it helps someone out there.
* * * * *
Orifunke Lawal is a young professional living in Nigeria. She is a writer, content creator, editor/proofreader, brand and communications professional and a budding SEO specialist. She is the author of The Art of Social Writing, an e-book which teaches how to write for social media and make people love you while at it. She is passionate about processes, ideas, tools, structures and systems that are put in place for the establishment and development of brands, businesses, communities and individuals online.
You can connect with her on LinkedIn: Orifunke Lawal