As a fresh university or polytechnic graduate in Nigeria, one thing you want to avoid at all costs when the time comes to join the nation’s workforce are job search mistakes. Apart from making you look unprofessional, you could lose the job even before you get hired.
When it comes to job search, there is no room for mistakes or second chances. One wrong word or question could cost you what would have been a dream job. In other words, only the candidates who make the least mistakes get the jobs.
This is why during the recruitment process, hiring managers use the smallest reasons to kick out offending resumes from the pack. In every competitive environment, especially when hiring, even the wrong punctuation on a CV or cover letter can be used to kick out erring candidates.
To explore this subject, I (Teju’ Fola-Alade, an experienced recruiter) will share my insights and experience on specific blunders fresh graduates must steer clear of when searching for a job
1. Overloaded details on CV
Have you ever visited a website or visited a huge supermarket and you became overwhelmed with things, data or items on display? This might have happened because you had no idea where to start from? Same applies to job hunting. A CV with too much information will get discarded because the key things a hiring manager might be looking for becomes lost in a plethora of information.
Sadly, important details will need to be fished out like an ace in a stack of shuffled cards. A hiring manager with thousands of resumes to review does not have time for that. Your resume objective should be brief, succinct and very catchy with highlights of just exactly what you have to offer.
This is not an opportunity for you to brag about the preambles but to simply highlight what you have done, areas of expertise and what you have to offer. Be factual and use figures to boost your chances. Save the trumpet blowing for the accomplishment section.
Also, you really don’t need to include your 35 years work experience in your resume especially if only 5 out of those are relevant to the position being applied for. If you have graduated for more than 4-5 years, take out all high school details and please note, religion, sex, date of birth are not needed. It’s a given that you will provide these details when asked or before your confirmation. You only have few seconds to make an impression on a hiring manager, so make sure it’s a good one.
2. Biting more than you can chew
Some months back, I played a key role in recruiting for a leadership role and during the resume sieving stage, we found candidates with less than 2 years of work experience applying for a leadership role for which they had no initial experience. While confidence and high self-esteem is an admirable trait in humans, it is only admirable if what is being brought to the table is commensurate with what is required. Anything less is simply living in denial of your capabilities and current limitations.
There is a great similarity between job hunting and seeking a life partner. There has to be a very perfect or near perfect fit. It will make no sense to seek in a partner, values that you abhor or are totally lacking in what you consider ideal. When searching for a job, there needs to be a very close match between the candidate and the available position. A candidate has my to be very objective in identifying positions that match their experience, interests and goals.
While you may shine during the interview with careful prepping and practice, it will only be a matter of time before you are found out, and the accompanying embarrassment will be worse. Imagine having you clear out your desk amidst glares from subordinates who saw through your lack of expertise. Incompetence and inexperience have no hiding place. Always match your qualifications to the job description and during the interview, you can decide to show in many ways why it should be you and nobody else.
3. Saying the most inappropriate things at a job interview
Do you think this is impossible despite the hours and days candidates put into prepping and practice? Sadly, it is actually possible. I once conducted an interview for a newbie company on the block and one of the candidates for a specialist role looked around at the young interviewers in the room and blurted “I hope the person I will be reporting to isn’t in this room!”
After the statement, every other question we asked was simply to pass time. With that statement, he was knocked out of the game within 20 seconds. Companies are no longer hiring for the experience but looking beyond that to candidates that will fit into their culture and share qualities that will fit into several roles as well.1
The above-mentioned candidate made it clear via his tasteless joke that he may have a problem reporting to a younger boss. A high percentage of a company’s workforce are dominated by Millennials so chances abound that as a candidate, you will most likely report to a younger boss.
During interviews, you need to learn about the company you are being interviewed by, study your interviewers and learn about the work culture in general. Most times, utterances during interviews that may get you off the game will tilt more towards your behavioural and personality traits rather than your experience statement. Your experience is yours and cannot be taken away from you. Hence, you need to watch your utterances around your behavioural composure.
During another interview for another specialist role, having asked a candidate another question, she began with “Like I’ve said and mentioned severally and repeatedly…” She naturally didn’t get the job as her level of impatience became glaring and the role being interviewed for required patience and tolerance.
Some things are better left unsaid during a job interview except when directly asked in a closed question. Always focus your interviews on what you have to offer to make the company great. Saying too much irrelevant information may knock you out of the already large pool.
4. The Morning after
While you may have checked all the required boxes, sometimes, expect that your job search won’t have a happily-ever-after ending. You may put all the effort into it but someone somewhere might just make the cut and not you. You could go ahead and contact the hiring manager to confirm reasons for not making the cut and how best you can improve. Several times, they will be willing to guide you.
However, there are days the reason you didn’t get the job may be through no fault of yours but just because the CEO’s god father’s daughter, stepson or nephew just got back from Australia, Ouagadougou, Guantanamo bay, Bermuda Triangle or wherever and needs a job as soon as possible. Guess who they’d be ticking off the list to have him/her slotted in immediately!
Sometimes, you just didn’t get the job because you didn’t know the right people. ‘Who you know’ also applies during a job search in quite a number of cases. To move through the difficult experience of losing out despite the trouble you faced during the rigorous process, simply refine your job search, and figure out the weak areas in the way you are going about it, how to perform during interviews and ways to improve.
If you are still not sure about why you aren’t getting hired, you can consider getting a career coach, a friend quite familiar with the HR industry or even a professional colleague or person of interest within the industry you are eyeing to serve as a guide for your subsequent searches.
Just continue to improve on yourself and seek new ways to be the best at whatever you do. Pretty soon, the right job will find its way to you or you will break new grounds and find it waiting and customised for you.