Typical of every new year (Happy New Year, by the way- forgive my manners😀) comes a usually long list of New Year resolutions; things to achieve throughout the year. Somewhere on this list for most of us is the need for a new job- for some because we’re unemployed, for others because we’re not happy with our current jobs and are in pursuit of something extra; something different. This resolution is more than often not met within the 365-day timeline, especially for the youthful job seekers. Why?
We’ve had the convenience of blaming the high-and-rising rates of youth unemployment in Africa on factors beyond our short-term control, like bad governance, office sectarianism, tribalism, poor education standards, lack of capital etc. But have we done everything within our power to be ready when that job interview lands on us? When that job offer gets here, are we prepared to prove our undebatable suitability for the job that over hundreds of thousands of other millennials within the country also want?
Psychologically, we promise ourselves that we’re beyond ready for the job. We went to school for this. We got First-Class and Second Class Upper Degrees for this. We did internship for this. Sadly, this is only a speck of what employers are looking for today. Take a minute and ask yourself these three questions:
1. Have I Volunteered Anywhere?
The Job Description is definitely not going to set volunteering experience as a desired prerequisite, but there’s a reason everybody adds relevant volunteering experience to their résumé. Having volunteered in your particular field gives off the impression that your invested interest within this field X is beyond just the good pay. It also creates the impression that months of volunteering have not only equipped you with career-specific skills, but also sharpened your soft skills, which we’ll discuss next. So the next time you or your parents are heavily demotivated about your working for firm X because it’s not paying, you might want to consider the long game.
2. How Are My Leadership (And Other Soft) Skills?
You have a First-Class Degree in your field of study and hands-on experience from internship or previous work. So do 147 others that also want the job. So, what wow factor makes you special? How far have you gone in developing soft skills relevant to your career? Have you invested in networking; have you taken on opportunities to test your teamwork, public speaking, presentation and intercommunication skills? Have you tested your leadership skills? Leadership skills are important because unlike the Generation X times where civil servants occupied the same office for years right into retirement and pension, the millennial working environment is fast paced. A few months into your new role and you already have new recruits under you, which elevates you to a position of leadership you should be able to competently execute. If you do not display these skills in your interview, you’re not the one they’re looking for.
3. Have I Invested In Self-Improvement?
This is the most crucial part of employability. In all your months of unemployment or unsatisfactory employment, are you working towards improving yourself within your field? Forget the notion that reading books ends after your graduation. The truth is, your university education hardly ever fully equips you with the skills needed for the job. This is because while our education works towards developing your niche in one field, today’s job descriptions require expertise in a way broader skill set. I studied media and journalism, for example. However, today’s journalist needs to have a strong personal brand on social media. Does the curriculum adequately cover digital media or content design as modules? Not by a long shot. So, you need to build everyday towards improving yourself beyond the thousands of other graduates in your field.
With that said, there’s tonnes of other ways to make yourself more employable; look them up in effort of self-improvement. And whatever you do, DON’T STOP APPLYING. One of the generic downsides to work is that work is a routine. You do the same thing over and over again. That’s how the people we look up to have years of experience within our field. So if your impatient millennial self feels like giving up after 10 applications or 20 interviews, how are you going to handle doing the same thing routinely for a year?! Besides, provided you don’t stop applying, there’s still chance. Nobody is going to throw a job at you in your bed because you felt fed up of applying, no. And every interview is a learning experience on how to handle the next one better. So let’s keep those letters going and the prayers pushing. Here’s to a hopeful better 2018. Cheers.