I salute you. I hail thee. I doff my cap in respect to you. I congratulate you for choosing to serve your fatherland gallantly even when it seems the future of a young graduate looks bleak and uncertain. Behind the khakis, I know, lie a fear of the unknown and a fear of the quite obvious statistics of the unemployment rate in our nation. Fear not, brother. Fear not, sister. The future is and will always remain bright.
I bring good tidings. Things are not really as bad as it seems. Things are only as bad as you decide to make of it. Opportunities abound. Young people are doing great things. People are securing their dream jobs. Fellas are getting offers. All these are happening in the midst of a gross downsizing exercise that greeted our market in recent times. My dear you can either choose to survive in this times or thrive in it. The choice is yours. However, I wouldn’t have taken the pain of pouring out my heart in these letter in the wee hours of the morning if I don’t want you to thrive. I really think you can thrive and I know that opportunities abound especially in the private sector. In order to position yourself for the opportunities, just follow my leading.
To start with, my friend, decide on the kind of job you really want by the time you take a bow from national service. Decide on the kind of job you want. It does not help you when you step into this job market without a choice. People will take advantage of your indecision. If I had asked you “what kind of job do you want?”’ I would bet my left arm your answer will definitely be “any job”. That is wrong. You cannot secure your dream job with such mindset. You don’t need to be desperate. Desperation begets gullibility. A lot of scammers posing as recruitment agencies will sell anything to you. The reason why I want you to decide on the kind of job you really want is because it will influence every other thing you do from now onwards. It will help you in your preparation. When you don’t have a job choice, what then do you prepare for? How does someone prepare for any kind of job? So, my friend take that decision today and you know what? Do not be limited by your grade in taking this decision.
Secondly, Corper, as good as a professional certification looks on your CV, you really might not need it as you need skill acquisition now. Before your passing out parade, make it a priority to acquire a professional skill or a vocational skill. When you must have decided on the kind of job you really want, you can now find out and begin to develop the skill set needed to deliver in such job. You know why? I want you to have something you can do and not just a certificate. When an opportunity will come knocking, you will meet someone that will ask you “young man, young woman, what can you do?” At this point, telling the person what you studied does not really answer the question. That is why I want you to acquire a tangible skill. Also, with the right skill, you can be rest assured you won’t be idle, jobless and broke pending when you land your dream job. If you must enroll for a professional certification, seek a professional advice. Don’t just enroll for NIM or Project Management because every other person in your lodge is doing so.
I am aware that what you earn as your allowance is barely enough for your upkeep. That is why I want you to be prudent with your finances during this period. It’s not a time for you to start pimping a house or co-existing with an opposite sex. If you do so, you realize you must have spent an immoral chunk of your monthly allowance on 12 inches mattress, Flat screen Plasma TV, Home Theatre, Paid TV Subscription, ‘I pass my neighbor’ Generator, and fuel just to impress or be comfortable away from home. It does not make any business sense to make such permanent financial decisions for a temporal situation. By the time you are done serving, you cannot even recoup one-third of the money you spent on those things when you sell them to fresh corpers. I would rather advise you spend more on building a professional wardrobe during this period. Invest in some good shoes, cufflinks, blazers, suits, shirts, ties, and a good professional leather bag. You will need them for the journey ahead. Don’t bank on your convocation suit. It won’t be enough. The bag will be handy to prevent you from storming people’s offices carrying brown envelope. Invest on resourceful materials that can help in building your capacity.
Start building a descent social media culture. You can start by creating a more professional e-mail ID. Do away with the firstname.lastname@example.org and the likes of it. A professional email ID should consist of your first name and surname e.g. email@example.com. Get closer to organizations you desire to work with on social media. Like their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter, Instagram. Connect with them on LinkedIn. Engage in intellectual discuss on social media and desist from vulgar posts and comments. You never can tell who might be watching.
Yes! Lest I forget… use this period to learn business writing, irrespective of your discipline. You don’t need to break the bank because of that. Google is there to help you. Develop good business writing skills. Learn how to sell yourself through a convincing and precise cover letter. Learn how to sell an idea through a business proposal. Learn how to prepare a business plan. The Bank of Industry, Central Bank of Nigeria and some Non-Governmental Organizations have been, and will continue to churn out initiatives that provides grants and soft loans to young people with a workable business idea and plan. I want you to grab these opportunities with both hands when they show up. Just prepare.
Finally, my friend, focus more on building relationships within this period – if where you are serving affords you the opportunity to. No matter the grade you graduated with, a strong network can be a leverage in your quest to secure your dream job. One good contact is worth more than a hundred CVs submitted at random. Seek to meet with Business owners, by pass Recruitment agencies and HR. build relationships with people that have decision making ability. They are in your churches. You can meet them in clubs. Just focus on building strategic relationships with industry executives. Do things for people without being paid. Volunteer to serve on different platforms where your ingenuity can be felt. Don’t be in a hurry to brandish your CV or inundate people with calls because you are looking for a job. Employers are interested in what you can do and what you have the potential of achieving. By pass the long queue and seek for the employer’s attention.
Like I said, do not be overwhelmed by the happenings in recent times. Opportunities abound. Just Prepare.
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