I was privileged to interview about 15 applicants with 1 – 6 years post NYSC experience for a role. My take away include:
Years of experience is just a number – out of the applicants, the applicant with 1-year experience was better exposed, sound and suitable because he had worked with companies that had exposed him to several scenarios than entities that just pay you salaries for warming the chairs. I can tell if you are speaking based on book knowledge or experience and exposure.
Disregard the high unemployment rate, with time you can get your dream job without a godfather – the employment rate in Nigeria is still very high but the competition is extremely low. If you are truly sound, you will get that job as over 90% of applicants are jokers and uncompetitive; they are graduates but not for this jet-age.
When you go for an interview and meet people with Stanford degrees, don’t hide and disqualify yourself even if all you got is a HND – the majority of the applicants cannot defend their certificates. Be hungry, be ambitious and seek for knowledge. Your dream for a dream job is valid, you can achieve it if you distinguish yourself.
If you want to practice in a regulated field e.g Accounting, HR, Law et al, seek professional qualification before running off to bag an MBA/MSC – I interviewed for a finance role and one key learning points that were visible to the blind and audible to deaf was that applicants who were not even chartered accountants but had only passed a stage of ICAN examinations spoke like professionals and gave reasonable assumptions to practical questions. They could to an extent think out financial ideas and solutions.
During internships and post-NYSC, don’t settle for the pay cheque, settle for the experience and exposure – the majority of the applicants had years of experience without real experience in the years. First hustle for experience and exposure (2Es), money will come knocking when you are fully loaded with the 2Es.
Spend more time learning soft skills and less time with snapchat filters, WhatsApp updates – no matter your field, learn how to use Microsoft office’s Word, PowerPoint, and Excel. You don’t have to be an expert, learn beyond the basics. For financial enthusiasts, learn beyond Excel’s SUM function, know how to use Pivot table at least.
In conclusion, applicants should learn to own the interview session; speak like you are gisting with your mom, dad, pastor and not a “god”. Be lively, laugh (it makes you human). I used to be an introvert but in interviews, I take charge as the applicant; I laugh. I remember tears “loading” in my eyes a few years ago before a panel of an oil and gas company when they told me I was the best so far but overqualified for the role (who overqualification help Sir? Mr. Panelist, give me this mountain [job]). They gave me a referral to another company but I don’t just apply to any company.
It is your stage not the panelist’s, don’t just perform like most musical artists, entertain, be hungry, be ambitious. You can land that dream job.