By David Alade
This will be about how I landed my first job, things that I did, how I did those and the thought process that was involved. I highlighted the main points of every story as a call for action for you as you search for your own job. I concluded by stressing the fact that getting a job requires hard work, do the hard work and lady luck will favour you with time.
The common theme I noted when I was about rounding up my National Youths Service Corps (NYSC) program was that in the domain where I was searching for employment, a lot of my peers (competitors) have relevant experience to boost their CV and I had none. The second observation came from my inference, if I and XYZ are applying for a job and XYZ has relevant experience (internship), will the employer prefer me to XYZ? I answered NO to this question. From here, I knew the cards that I have shuffled to myself will not favour me if I don’t act smart.
This seems like the story of almost every graduate in Nigeria, no internship experience, nothing unique to set him/her apart from the crowd, hence, no job till now.
Getting a Job is Hard Work
Once I was clear from my strategic analysis that I am at a disadvantage, the next ploy for me was devising strategic moves. I did my SWOT Analysis, and I was strict about it. I asked questions like the following:
- What am I good at?
- What kind of jobs can I take up?
- What certification(s) do I need?
- What skill(s) can I develop to set me apart?
- Those that I believe are better than me what do they have that I don’t? Etc…
After asking these questions, a lot was clear to me. I needed experience (wherever that will come from), ICAN, strong MS Excel skill, financial modelling skill and writing skill. Those were what I came up with.
For the skills requirement, I paid for an online course on Udemy to learn Excel and Financial Modeling. ICAN, I was preparing for it already and for writing skills, I started writing (arguably the best way to learn writing). All those were the ‘easy’ part, how do I gain experience is a tough question? I did 3 things.
- I started investing on NSE (Nigeria Stock Exchange) because investment banking was the domain I targeted. Why I did this was simple, to have a hands-on experience with securities trading. Suffice to say I lost money and made money (lol), but till today the experience remains.
- I messaged someone I got to know on twitter that owns a Financial Journalism company that I will be relocating to Lagos and would like to work for him for free if he would allow me. I was glad he gave me a free ticket to show up at his office once I get to Lagos. I should quickly mention that I didn’t have to. But the gut, resilience and determination to get a job were there.
- I started putting myself out to the public that I am intelligent (remember Ndubuisi Ekekwe said, “The only valuable skills are those that we know that you have”). I did this by writing ‘every day’ on LinkedIn and people were paying attention and noticing me.
That was my hard work.
Firstly, I understood where I was and where I wanted to be
Secondly, I diagnosed the reason for the gap between those two positions
Thirdly, I worked hard to bridge the gap
If you too will do these three things, you will be setting yourself up for landing your first job and maybe luck.
Getting a job is Luck
I mentioned earlier that in the long run, I didn’t have to work for free, that’s because hard work paid off or let me say lady luck smiled on me. I like to say lady luck favours the one who tries, that’s a fact I have come to believe.
Between all my effort to get a job, I was constantly applying for jobs advertised on mainstream media, until today, I didn’t get a reply from any of them. My strategy and luck met because of my No. 3 action point (putting myself out there by writing). If you are conversant with Tekedia, you should have come across this article, how to get a job in Nigeria. I am a product of the manifestation of what the article preached even though I got to read the article much later.
On a faithful week, two CEOs reached out to me from LinkedIn if I would like to take up a position in their firm. Coincidentally, around the time when I needed a job, they also have a position to fill, one was not in consonant with my skill, the other was and that was my luck (the skills I acquired came in handy when I started the job). I took up the position and relocated to Lagos, remember even if the job didn’t come, I still would have relocated and work for free for another CEO. You need to be much determined and strategic about your pursuit.
That was my Luck
But you see, lady luck only favoured me because I made an effort. If I had not decided to improve my writing skills which led me to writing on LinkedIn for people to see I am intelligent, I wouldn’t have gotten the two job offers.
Firstly, take responsibility for your life
Secondly, take action. Put in all the hard work that is required
Thirdly, hope that time and chance favours you and pray to your God.
I have told you my story of how I got my first job. But there is a thing I noticed among we graduate, our first problem is not knowing what we want and if you don’t know what you want, it is difficult to forge a way forward. That you studied Geography does not compel you to study the geographic space for the rest of your life, that you studied Yoruba does not mean you should teach Yoruba. Expose yourself to career options, LinkedIn will greatly help on this, one of the things I did then was to check on people’s profile and I saw the vast difference between the course of study and career part.
To land your first job or any job I must say, you need to put in the hard work and lady luck of her own accord will smile on you with time.