No doubt, good jobs are hard to get in Nigeria. The 2014 Nigerian Immigration job test in which over 700,000 graduates were jostling for about 4,500 average paying job openings is a glaring example of the alarming employment situation. The bloated job market notwithstanding, many graduates still get absolved into good organizations on a yearly basis. This details a list of the top 10 most important qualities that enhance employability in Nigeria. It is almost a certainty that a graduate will land a good quality job within a short period if he or she has some of the 10 qualities mentioned below:
NB. These are not my wishlists but simply a true reflection of the most sought-after qualities in today's graduates.
1. Good grade - It is almost needless to say that one of the basic requirement for most vacancies these days is a good grade. You stand a better chance with a first class degree. Having a good grade automatically means that you can apply for almost all graduate jobs that require your area of expertise which increases your chance of getting the dream job. However, having a good grade is not an end to itself as there are many competing grads with equally good grades. For students, I will advise you work hard and graduate with stellar grades to increase your chances in the labour market.. For those already out with lower grades, work on other qualities to enhance your employability.
2. Communication skill - You can never underestimate the importance of communication - the ability to express one's self coherently and adequately both in writing and speaking. The difference between two equally good graduates usually boils down to the person who has superior articulation ability. Communication skill is critical to success both in the test and oral interview stage of a recruitment process. Writing skill is also essential in CV and cover letter writing. At the end of the day, it is not often the 'best' that gets the job; it is the candidate who is able to sell him/herself more than the rest that most frequently gets the job
3. Age - Like it or not, age remains a critical factor in the Nigerian labour market. Most graduate jobs have age restrictions. As you grow older, the number of eligible vacancies available to you would become progressively lesser. The younger you are, the more jobs you can pursue and the higher the probability of landing of one or more of the jobs
4. Networking / Interpersonal skills - Nigerians call this different names (such as recommendation, building contacts, connections, man-know-man, pressing buttons, favouristism, etc. ) depending on individual perception and perspective. Jobs are gotten via networking worldwide and Nigeria is not an exception. Networking in itself is not bad and can be used to further one's career. But the influence of networking in Nigeria is often blown out of proportion. You do not need to know anyone to land a good job, especially in the private sector. Countless number of people get good jobs in Nigeria without knowing anyone. I am a witness. However, it is still paramount to develop good social/networking skills.
5. Analytical Skill - This is one of the most essential skills highly sought after by companies. It is usually tested in the job aptitude exams. I have seen many graduates with good grades and marketable courses who flunk job tests simply because they have poor analytical/mathematical skills. They simply can't handle the mathematics / quantitative section of the tests. Analytical skill also involves problem solving and this is rigorously tested during interview sessions. You need a job? Work on your analytical ability. It is no excuse even if you read a non-science course (like English, law, history, etc.)
6. Masters / Professional Certification - There are simply some disciplines that having a masters degree, especially in a top school will brighten your chances of landing a dream job. Examples are geology, architecture, lecturing, some engineering disciplines, etc. There are certain kind of jobs (e.g. business and HR consulting) that having an MBA will be very valuable. Also, the importance of certification in disciplines such as accounting, Information Technology, Safety, HR, investment, stock broking, etc. cannot be overstated. However, many still get good jobs without having an extra degree or certification. Most graduate jobs do not necessarily require an additional degree.
7. Basic Computer Skill - The corporate world revolves around information technology. Almost all entry level job positions require graduates to have basic MS Office skills (Word, Excel and PowerPoint). Most job vacancies are advertised and applied online. Many job tests are computer based. CV's and cover letters are designed using computers. Job hunting is all about information gathering and most information including books, interview and test materials are now in electronic forms.
8. Knowledge of Business / Corporate World- Having a knowledge of the corporate can be a big advantage, especially in interviews. Many employers search for this knowledge amongst graduates, even the technically inclined ones. Employers are business oriented and are increasingly leaning towards graduate with knowledge of how business runs and how to make business decisions, irrespective of academic background. This is akin to business leadership qualities. It isadvisable for graduates to have basic understanding issues such as personnel management, leave, branding, advertisement, finance, investment, labour issues, community issues, workplace safety, managing your boss, etc
9. 'Marketability' of course - The more marketable your course of study is, the brighter your chances of getting a good job. All courses are good, but some courses appear more 'marketable' than others. Just go through job vacancies in the last 5 years and you will not disagree with me that courses such as accounting, engineering, nursing, medicine, etc. seem to be more in demand.
10. Valuable Internship/ Volunteer Experience - Having relevant internship or volunteer experience can potentially give you a competitive edge over others in sectors such as oil/gas, construction, advertising, banking etc. Many graduates get chosen above others as a result of applicable experience garnered from a few months of internship. However, it is not the only prerequisite for success in job hunting.
Other important factors worthy of mention include tribe / region (e.g. oil companies favour host communities in job placements), talent, alma mater (some schools simply carry more weight than others), leadership experience etc. In conclusion, it must be reiterated that the above qualities can only improve greatly your chances of landing a good job in Nigeria. There is always the GOD factor / luck / grace that cannot be ruled out.
Xfire is a graduate of one of the notable public universities in Nigeria, with working experience in the FMCG and petroleum industry. He currently works as an engineer in a multinational oil company in Nigeria. He is passionate about guiding people to achieve their dream careers, and he is known for his pragmatic approach towards career and life issues.