Dear Young Professional,
You have to learn how to add value, package and effectively sell yourself if you want to have a competitive advantage as you prepare to go into the job market.
I recently received two unsolicited emails from two National Service persons who were looking for job opportunities.
Let’s call them Kojo and Kofi.
The subject of Kojo’s email read “Application for employment”. There was nothing written in the body of the email.
Attached was his CV. It was a generic CV not tailored to any role in particular. There was no cover letter and there was no indication of what roles Kojo wanted to apply for.
Then there was Kofi’s email. The subject read “I Think I am Useful!”. The first paragraph read:
“Dear Sir / Madam,
As responsible and proactive as I would like to be with my career objectives in Agribusiness management and its related fields, I have been searching out for potential companies and environments that can help me realise my career goals as well as contributing to the goals actualisation of these companies.
I see such potential in your company Sesi Technologies, and I would love to be a part of it in any way. My skill set may include; market research and analysis, agri value chain analysis…….”
His attached CV listed over 15 online courses and training he had undertaken aside from his university degree. He also highlighted some of his achievements.
He ended his email by saying he wanted to work with our company as a volunteer or on a part time basis as he was still a National Service Personnel and would like to chat more to tell us how he could help our company.
Now, let’s look at these two:
In Kojo, I saw someone who wants a job and assumed that the best way to increase his chances was to send his CV to as many companies as possible.
In Kofi, I saw someone who is deliberate about their career path and is taking the right steps and doing the right things to be successful in their chosen career.
Which of these two made a good first impression? If you were an employer, which of these two would you like to speak with?
See, the job market is very competitive. Many graduates come out each year to chase very few available jobs. A lot of them struggle to get jobs and end up at home very frustrated.
However, if you start being deliberate about your career path early enough, you can position yourself to be ahead of the competition.
When you distinguish yourself in your field, trust me, companies will fight over you. You won’t struggle to get a job!
So what can you do now?
1. Figure out what path you want your career to take and start building your capacity along that path.
2. Read books, take new courses (Coursera.org, Udemy.com. etc) or get a mentor in your chosen field. (micromentor.org)
3. Volunteer and apply for internships.
4. Attend workshops or apply for fellowship programs to build other soft skills. (Check out Savvy Fellowship).
5. Connect with people and build your network. (Learn how to use LinkedIn)
6. Build new skills (Check out Google Digital Skills for Africa)
Above all, no matter what your situation is now, it is not too late to start being deliberate about your career development.
All the best!