I’ve been interviewing candidates for years and I have observed with dismay that it’s at the interviews most candidates perform abysmally. These interviews were meant to separate the qualified from the underperformers. Hence, no interview is done with the aim of frustrating candidates even though it may seem so. If the candidate can successfully demonstrate his qualifications, show how he can bring tangible value addition and skills for the advertised job position the interview may just be a formality. The employer’s objective is to have a cost and time efficient interview and the faster he can find a suitable person for the vacant position the better for him.
There is a high rate of unemployment in Nigeria and despite the huge talent pool there is an artificial skills gap so companies are faced with hiring challenges and difficulties in finding enough talented people. Job competition in Nigeria is fierce. The number of graduates from Universities across the Country greatly surpasses the number of available jobs. It is estimated that it is just 8% of these graduates that get meaningful employment annually.
However, there are jobs available no matter how few and there is no one sure way that will guarantee you find a job. You will be expected to be nimble and be able to adapt to any method that will increase your job prospects.
You must realize that networking is perhaps the most important tool you have at your disposal. An effective approach using this model can be used by graduate job seekers. A higher percentage of graduates have returned to institutions where they had previously undergone internship to apply for positions, whether advertised or not.
No contact you make during your internship can be termed useless if you know how to network. Send subtle hints you will be returning as a permanent staff (after all they gave you the requisite experience), ask for suggestions on how it can be done and use this information and advice gathered to focus your job search.
If you are not getting the job offers, especially if you’re suitably qualified, then it is probable that you’re being rejected for reasons best known to the recruiter but you need to know and understand these reasons by asking yourself “why?”
It has been suggested by renowned recruiting firms that poor self presentation is the leading cause of not getting a job offers despite being overqualified for it.
Here are twelve reasons why you may not be getting job offers:
1. Doing a flat job search/application
Most candidates today have spread their job search across all spheres. They will use the same CV and cover letter to apply for marketing and a dentist job. Little wonder why they don’t seem to pass this preliminary stage. Applying for every job you find might put you in the face of recruiters but it isn’t always a good idea. I believe if you target your job search and apply only for jobs you’re qualified for, you’ll have a better chance of getting selected for an interview, and ultimately getting the job.
2. Not having the required experience
Inexperience could be a hindrance in your job search. Employers want experience and won’t employ anyone with a sparse employment history. Gaining experience in the industry will help you market yourself during your job search. Internship is probably the easiest way for you to get experience even if you’re not well remunerated. You can learn about the inner workings of a company that will enable you decide if the career path is yours to enjoy. And in this economy, more and more employers are hiring straight from their intern pool, since they already know and trust you. You will have insider knowledge of the job requirements which will prove useful when you want to respond to a job advert for a position that feels like a match.
3. You may lack enthusiasm.
Interviews are meant to be exchange of relevant information and a good recruiter will spot if you are faking and just going through the motions during the interview. Not everyone is an extrovert, but if you can’t manufacture enthusiasm during a job interview, a recruiter will wonder if you were forced to apply for the job and how good your attitude will be after you’re hired.
4. A Terrible CV
The first piece of information your recruiter will know about you is contained and a well written CV and cover letter will present you in the best possible light.
Come up with job specific CV and take your time to read through all the information. Only write down what you can know as you can be called upon by the recruiter to defend a detail. Cut out the fluff so your CV should contain your relevant skills and you can show how easily you can tailor your talents to keep up with demands from your would be employer. You can always tweak it for different job prospects.
I recommend that you show someone your CV and get it proofread to ensure it is without errors before you forward them to the recruiter. Your finished document must not look empty so if you really don’t have much employment history I suggest you pen down your internship programme and other relevant volunteering works you have successfully carried out as you shouldn’t show you were unemployed for very long periods. However you do not need to include ALL your years of experience too. No one needs to know you have over 30years of experience which may be a bit over the top for the advertised position. Keep that gem close to your chest so you don’t seem dated.
You need References that you can depend on to put a few good words if the recruiter calls on them as this can make a big difference in getting hired. You should get solid recommendations from colleagues, bosses, clients, subordinates, and suppliers. Inform your references so they don’t sound surprised when they do receive the call.
5. Failure to establish your worth to the prospective employer.
It might seem grossly unfair that if you fail to establish your worth to the interviewer within the first few minutes you might be disqualified even if you’re obviously a perfect fit for the position. You need to show the recruiter the wealth of experience you have and how the company will benefit from your presence. You will talk on how effective you will be when you’re employed without bragging. There is a thin line between Confidence and Arrogance. Carefully toot your horn but don’t cross that line. You can do a lot like writing articles, giving presentations or teaching a class which will make you an “expert”.
6. Bad mouthing previous employers.
Never ever bad mouth your previous employer or colleagues as this almost certainly never ends well for the candidate. Even if your boss was lazy, didn’t pay salaries on time or was unfit to work, keep your opinions to yourself. If asked about your employer, please try to put him in a good light. No matter what the recruiter tells you remember he is not your friend and will use ALL the information you give him. The first thing the interviewer is going to think about is what you will say about their company when you’re moving on.
7. Poor personal appearance
Your appearance can make or mar your prospects even before you open your mouth. Ensure your hair is well cut and you should dress appropriately. A well tailored suit should be put in play. I am sure you know that saying “You can tell a man from his shoes”. Your shoes must be polished before you step in. It should be very comfortable so you shouldn’t seem distressed. Research on the company and its employees and find out they dress to work. However don’t wear jeans to the interview because everyone puts on jeans. There are companies who don’t mind their employees growing a beard and there are others who don’t want that eccentric look. The key here is that you must fit in with the way others in the company dress.
Female applicants should tone down everything. Nails should be trimmed, flamboyant colours and outfits should be avoided and keep the height of your shoe heels to the barest minimum. Wobbling or Tripping as you enter is not a good sight. Candidates must arrive at least 15 minutes early for the interview so they can calm their nerves before the interview will start. Greet everyone and await your turn respectfully. Remember you’re being watched from the minute you stepped into the premises. You must have confidence, even if you have to fake it. Smile but don’t appear like a clown. Always keep eye contact but don’t make it seem like you’re glaring or staring the interviewer down.
8. Unprepared for the interview
Remember, google is your friend. Research about the company- Read any press releases, media coverage, annual reports and whatever other information about the company and industry you can get your hands on, find out about individuals within as well as their possible interview questions. Practice. Practice. Practice. There are a few standard so make sure you know how to respond in every scenario. Candidates who hesitate or stammer when answering questions appear to be unprepared. Be ready to answer the questions in five seconds or less after it was asked but don’t ramble. Most people are unaware they are allowed to place a call to their interviewer and enquire about the kind of interview he will be getting and also to get details of everybody that will interview him.
At the end of the interview session you need to ask questions that show you’ve done your homework about the company and you’re going to bring something professional to the role. Most interviewers will think a candidate who doesn’t ask any question is not really interested in joining their company.
These are a few questions you can ask:
- What are the major challenges of this position?
- How does the job fit with the company strategy?
- Why did the last office holder leave?
- What other duties outside my schedule will i be required to perform?
I have said “practice” several times because it is very important. Ask a family member to play the interviewer and pose all kinds of questions to test your readiness. Don’t use any prepared question as anything asked has to be unexpected. Your voice pitch has to be just right so you don’t sound like you’re whining during the interview. You have to be audible; learn to speak slowly and clearly– be the ultimate storyteller. Tell a captivating story of your talents and abilities; tell tales of scenarios when you had to call on your experience to handle a particular situation; prove you will give the company your undivided loyalty; paint a rosy picture of how the company would thrive under your watch. Aim to speak for under a minute at a time then pause for questions so you don’t sound monotonous and boring. It is going to be interactive so subtly encourage your interview to talk about himself and his achievements. You can jot down a few notes as they talk but you have to be aware of the events playing out before you- be attentive.
9. No interpersonal skills
Shyness or Timidity is a huge turnoff during any interview. It is a deal breaker and no matter how good you are on paper you can end up not getting a job because of this flaw. Most interviewers will ask you to reveal what yoy consider your greatest weakness. Do not mention this. Mention any trait that can be improved on over time. Telling the interviewer that you are shy might reveal a case of low self esteem or lack of self confidence.
10. Not networking your way in effectively
Networking is a very important factor in job prospecting. No one is too small to network effectively as everybody knows somebody. You might not it but your ideal job is just three persons from you. When you tell A he will ask B who will convince C to give you a job. It might sound simpler but it is a bit complicated. Talk to everyone- friends, relatives, and neighbors. Tell them or better still demonstrate your skills and urge them to link you up to someone who will desire your skill. Preferably their own employer. Give them your target specific resume. Get them to setup interviews or opportunities where you can pitch to your would be employer.
You have to take advantage of your contacts as within your existing network there are jobs that would be appropriate for you, but the people who could help open doors to those jobs just haven’t thought of you. Even if it has been months since you spoke you don’t even have to come up with any excuse to reestablish contact. Just call and speak to them. Man is naturally inquisitive so ask about their employer organization.
Network, network, network. Make it your daily objective to re-establish business and personal relationships that had floundered initially. The Reconnect with people and don’t isolate yourself, especially now when you need all the help you can get to secure a job.
I recommend using LinkedIn to find employees at the company where you’d like to apply. If I want to work in Globacom Nigeria using this approach, I will search for individuals employed by Globacom Nigeria and follow them. When we are linked I can politely enquire about recruitment processes in their company, send him my CV clearly stating my experience and ask him to let me know whenever there are employment exercises especially internal job adverts. Research and subscribe to industry specific blogs or magazines so you are up-to-date on activities in that sector. When the time is perfect you can use this knowledge to demonstrate your motivation and enthusiasm for your target company on your application and at the interview.
11. Reluctance to Leverage technology.
Technology is supposed to make our job search easier although not everyone has fully embraced it. Candidates should take advantage of social networking sites, such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter and online services to connect with your professionals in your specific industry and to build greater visibility.
12. Not Following up
Most people don’t know you should send a thank you note after an interview. You should thank your interviewer (each of them if it’s more than one person that interviewed you). It will be more appropriate to send email so you can personally thank each of your interviewers for their time and reiterate your interest in the position without it appearing that you’re harassing them. Allow professionalism in your approach and ensure you don’t sound tacky or whiny.
Guaranteed Ways to Get a Job
There are several innovative ways for you to snag yourself a well paying job such as:
- Volunteering can be used by the savvy in securing jobs. Remember that you are gaining the invaluable requisite experience from your prospective employer.
- Calling on prospective employers to enquire about vacancies appropriate for your skills, personality, and interests can work out in your favour. Remember not to constantly harass these people in your bid for a job
- Network with your alumni. You could meet former course mates that are now in a position to help you.
- You can use the service of Employment agencies but be prepared to pay their fee when you take a job through them.
- Freelancing will be difficult in the early stages but when you’re able to carve a niche for yourself you’d be self-sufficient and might rather desire to remain self employed.
- Network with friends, neighbors and acquaintances as someone within the circle may be the best single source of job leads.
- Sending out letters to potential employers, may just be effective if it can make its way to a decision maker with identified suitable openings.
- Television &Radio announcements have proven to be very effective in getting information about vacant jobs.
- In-house adverts are placed in companies that want to discretely employ individuals without recourse to the public. If you can network within your target company and ensure you can be quickly informed about such openings then you’re almost guaranteed a job.