Since many Nigerians today are either looking for a job or trying to start a business in order to achieve same objective of being able to provide for themselves and families, I will be discussing the two subjects together. As I discuss the subject, I will also highlighting specific examples of channels that job seekers, employers and business owners can utilize free of charge. First is a jobs in Nigeria website that provides free opportunities for job seekers to search for jobs in Lagos, jobs in several countries in Africa and Middle East, jobs in Abuja, and jobs in other states in Nigeria. Job seekers can also post their CVs and send 200-word elevator pitches that the jobs site promote free on their linkedin page of over 50 thousand followers. Employers can also post jobs free on the website. Posted jobs include oil and gas jobs in Nigeria, telecom jobs in Nigeria and several African countries, ngo jobs in Nigeria, jobs for fresh graduates, pre-NYSC and NYSC, internship jobs, jobs for drivers, executive assistants, cleaners, as well as digital marketing jobs in Nigeria.
Second is the top classifieds ads website in Nigeria where people seeking to start businesses or promote their businesses online can post free adverts about their businesses on the website. But the most important value that Nigerians get from this Classified Ads Website is the free and regular publication of very informative articles and business news that help both job seekers and business owners learn a lot about how to succeed in their business and/or career. Common products and services on the classified ads website include dog, renting and selling house, different types of male and female shoes, etc. Let’s start by talking about jobs and address some common questions.
Most young Nigerians without prior work experience always complain that employers always disqualify them because of the no-work experience challenge. My first response is always that people must start trying to find small jobs from their teenage years or in their early twenties. If you are in a higher institution, do your best to seek ‘unpaid’ internship or holiday jobs in order to acquire experience. If you’re not in a higher institution, aggressively find jobs no matter how small it is from an early age. Don’t wait until you have become much older before starting to work. In today’s competitive world, it’s not about the money per se at this early age, it’s about acquiring experience to enhance your future job search. Most employers never want to hire first-timers because they are afraid of the high risks. If we focus only abusing employers for avoiding first-timers or appeal to them to start considering first-timers, we will be wasting our time.
Young Nigerians must humble themselves to seek and do small jobs while they are teenagers or 20s. As long as you can afford transporting yourself to the workplace and back home, please take the job for free. Even if you don’t have money to take lunch at the workplace, it is important to find a way to still work within that challenge. Students that have mandatory internship program during their school education have a slight advantage, but you really don’t need a school to compel you to look for small jobs during school breaks. If you do not get such opportunity during school, your immediate target after graduation (before NYSC) is to seek such small jobs. Unfortunately, most graduates only want ‘paid’ jobs and they over-estimate their abilities. It’s helpful to consider and accept small jobs if you don’t land the big job early enough. And no matter how small the job is, be diligent at it while you passionately search for new jobs.
In your CVs, use good keywords to polish the small job descriptions. For example, if you were serving drinks to customers, call it customer service and find nice ways to describe it. Find sales jobs, teaching jobs, driver jobs, cleaner jobs or whatever can give you some experience and opportunities to meet people. It will always add value while searching for graduate job vacancies in Nigeria. Many companies will gladly offer unpaid internship jobs but you have to show willingness to accept such jobs.
Let’s talk about experienced people that have been laid off from their jobs and have found it hard to get new jobs. The challenge some of them have is that there are no suitable opportunities within the industry there had been working and they are so fixated on working in that industry. Some don’t mind working in any industry but recruiters are telling them that they are overqualified. First of all, it’s very important to be proactive. If you are working in an industry where there has been experiencing many lay-offs and general decline in recent years, you should not wait until you get fired before you start preparing yourself and CV for positions outside the industry. It’s a lot of work to prepare yourself for new industries after working in a particular industry for say 10 years. So you really should start early enough, just in case you need to resign or you get fired. Research those other industries about relevant transferable skills, recruitment styles in those industries, friends and former classmates you know in the industries, etc. After getting all these relevant details, you should check that it’s a developing industry and not one in decline like the one you are currently in. You thereafter have to start learning about that industry and tweaking your CV to meet their expectations.
Remember to remain smartly cautious to ensure your current employer doesn’t know that you are checking out other industries. Avoid using office equipment to search for those details. Above all, you should remain very diligent, positive and put in your best to enhance the chances of not losing your current job. But you must prepare ahead and not wait until you get fired or your company closes down before hitting the job market. You will also have to significantly adjust your CV and online profile to make them attractive to the new industries you’re considering. You will learn the new industry requirements and terminologies, tweak your experience accordingly, and in some cases seek professional education or certifications to really make yourself competitive for the new industry. Talk to people that can generally advise you about recruitment in Nigeria and what it takes to switch to the new career. More importantly, you have to speak to a few people within the new industry that you are exploring. Even after you have learnt all the ‘theories’ about the new career or industry, you still need to find smart ways to acquire a lot of relevant practical knowledge in preparation for interviews.
Let’s switch to service providers that are seeking customers and not jobs. For example, there are many fashion designers in Nigeria that are facing similar challenges that job seekers face. Some of them are highly skilled but constantly struggle to find customers. Some are getting jobs but not getting the kind of customers they really want. Imagine a highly skilled mechanic at a Lagos suburb location where most customers want to pay him peanuts, but he is perhaps more skilled than an average mechanic in Lekki. How does that artisan get to connect with prospective customers at Lekki or Lagos Mainland? That artisan needs to leverage the use of the internet to get his words out. If he or she cannot use smart phones or doesn’t have enough money to buy smart phones, a good option is to get a tech-savvy person and pay that person to help with some free online marketing. This classifieds video is very helpful.
Some people say that searching jobs (either as a job-seeker or a service provider) online never works or is too expensive. It’s correct that online marketing doesn’t work for everybody, but many people have recorded good success with it. However, it will be very unwise for a job-seeker or service provider to focus only on online marketing. You must deploy multiple strategies to get jobs. If you are seeking job or service opportunities, have you tried walking down streets in your area or major streets not far from you to seek a small job just in order to gain experience? Have you offered to work free for that supermarket or prospective customer near you? If you’re an experienced person seeking to change job or just seeking information about the latest jobs in Nigeria, don’t be shy about asking your friends in other companies about vacancies. I know people who had their lives transformed via simple referrals and have a nice story to tell about recruitment in Nigeria. If you are shy or keep quiet, you will not get referrals easily. You must keep telling people about the services you render or your need for a job. You must show some desperation and let people know about your competitive advantages over others.
If you just recently lost your job after many years of work experience, the first thing you need to do is to check if your search strategies are adequately ‘modern’. Does your CV fit the modern requirements? Are you actually searching for the right jobs? Are you talking to the right people? Do you always have a hard copy CV in your bag anytime you go out? What about an updated soft copy always on your phone in addition to those selfies? Do you have an elevator pitch about yourself? I mean if you’re in a party and you mention to someone that you’re looking for a job, can you sell yourself in 30 seconds to that man or woman that can possibly refer you? If you need several minutes to sell yourself, then you’re not prepared.
For both job seekers and service providers, do you have a 30-second elevator pitch about yourself that you can quickly share even if someone suddenly wakes you up. Delon.ng recently asked people on their Linkedin page dedicated to job seekers and service providers to share 200-word elevator pitch about themselves and that they will post the elevator pitches free of charge on the Linkedin page (which has close to 100k followers). But not many people responded. People were sending their long CVs and it just showed that a lot of people were not ready with quick and short elevator pitches. It is important to always have a good and quick summary about yourself. It will help you better market yourself or your business.
Let’s talk a little bit about agriculture, as I believe this is an industry that will create jobs and service opportunities for unemployed Nigerians this decade. Agriculture is the only industry that has consistently grown within the last 20 years. Other industries like telecom, banking, networking, manufacturing, oil & gas, etc have had good episodes of growth, but none has grown consistently like Agriculture. It is always important for job seekers and unemployed people seeking to provide services in an unsaturated industry to learn about opportunities and prospects in several industries and locations of interest. There will always be jobs in many industries, but you should consider the ones that will grow in coming years much more than the ones that will likely decline soon. For the technology people, I can confidently say that ‘software’ is an industry that is growing right now and will continue to grow for several years. Therefore, if you’re studying engineering in school, try to develop interest in coding. This will be far more lucrative than networking and telecoms in coming years. Going back to agriculture, there are not many high-level jobs in this industry yet, but people need to start preparing themselves for the upcoming jobs and business opportunities. As Nigeria begins to gradually move up the value chain in food production, more sophisticated and high-paying jobs will emerge in this industry. Nigeria desperately needs this industry to grow more rapidly for our economy to blossom. This is the greatest way to create employment for our people.
Delon.ng is committed to regularly providing free quality information online to job seekers and small business owners. They also post articles related to the Nigerian economy and business environment that can provide very helpful tips to business owners. But it is important for small business owners to also do their best to read these articles on delon.ng and other related platforms that provide quality information. For example, the federal government has recently come up with new tax policies with some changes that can favour small businesses. Small business owners should ensure they look for the new law documents and understand how it affects them or how they can take good advantage of it. From February 1, 2020, small businesses earning less than N25m a year will no longer pay company income taxes to the government and those earning between N25m to N100m will also now pay 20% instead of 30%. This is really a big deal because it gives people different options. For example, if you were making about N28m annual turn-over in previous years and have had to contend with a lot of hassles with your auditor and government tax agencies, you may decide to reduce your business efforts a bit to make less than N25m in order to avoid the hassles. And you may also decide to work hard to grow your business up to N99m from the N28m and enjoy your 20% instead of pushing yourself up to N100m and pay 30%. The point is that small businesses must do their best to read news about government policies that can help them make good decisions. Delon.ng and newspapers are good platforms for this.
Talking more generally about the economy and government responsibilities, the first point that must always be emphasized is that only consistent survival and growth of small businesses will fundamentally create the quantity of jobs that Nigeria requires to grow its economy. The biggest companies in Nigeria and governments cannot hire up to 10% of Nigerians. They probably cannot even hire up to 5%. But if small businesses hiring 2 to 10 people continue to grow across the country, they can potentially hire millions of unemployed youths. Government has to triple its efforts on agricultural development. That industry alone can employ more than 20% of Nigerians to adequately feed our 200million population. State governments also need to invest time, energy and money into providing FREE business training to small businesses. Many small businesses fail very quickly because they are not properly trained about running and growing their businesses. You see a lot of barbers, carpenters, furganizers and mechanics today that are driving okada because their small business failed within 1 or 2 years. Some of them were lazy or not adequately skilled but there are many who were hardworking and skilled but just didn’t understand business. State governments need to find ways to provide quality business trainings to these people. I am sure they will find volunteer trainers that will do it free – and all the government has to do is to provide location and publicize event. We need to train our small business owners to help our country grow. Imagine if we have 2million small businesses hiring average of 3 to 5 staff. That’s potential 6 to 10million jobs. Is there any big company in Nigeria hiring up to 1m direct staff? None! Many state governments say that building roads is generating employment – that’s true, but I wish they will also invest in training small companies and they will be pleasantly surprised about the positive development they will create through this.