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Get A Job in 6 Months of Completing NYSC
I had the advantage of serving in NYSC 2012 Batch C. I call it an “advantage” because it gave me a perspective on the Post-NYSC job hunt process that I may not have gotten if I started earlier with Batch A.
I watched my schoolmates start the NYSC program with enthusiasm, eagerly looking forward to the orientation camp.
I watched as they finished that and started working at their places of primary assignment. I watched as the initial excitement faded off 2-3 months later as the NYSC routines became boring.
I watched as they began applying for jobs with high hopes of getting them. I watched as many of them would submit applications and fail to move beyond the first or second stage of the recruitment process. I watched as their desperation to get a job increased as the end of NYSC drew nearer and nearer and eventually came to an end.
I watched as they would begin to gradually reduce their ambitions/expectations for jobs. I watched as they would begin hoping to get jobs which they never even bothered to apply for when they started hunting. I watched as desperation would drive their expectations lower and lower until they just wanted any job, as far as it would put some money in their pockets and they could go out in the morning and come back in the evening.
I was able to see this process play out while I was still serving. What I decided was that, my own story won’t be the same.
This decision made a difference.
In this article, we’ll talk about belief, the vital ingredient that gives meaning to all your effort.
Failure and Belief
What happens when you fail a job interview?
Does your confidence in yourself reduce? Do you go back and think of your life and pity yourself? Does fear of the possibility that your life will go nowhere begin to creep in?
What if you fail at seven job interviews at different multinationals that pay well?
How will you react after the seventh one? Will you be more determined or will you get disheartened? Will you start thinking that there must be a spiritual problem somewhere and you need prayers? Will you get discouraged and possibly stop bothering to apply?
Will you feel like less of a person? Will you give up?
These questions are not imagined. Each question is based on things I observed in many job-seekers I have talked to.
Where do you go when you fail?
“I feel like hiding”
Ok….I think I have kept you guys waiting long enough for this story. Here it is:
So I have this friend named Janet.
I have known Janet for years, but we reestablished contact when I was serving and she had just finished service (I was in batch C and she was in A in the same NYSC set). She was a graduate of a western university.
More than 12 months after her passing out parade she had no job, even though she had a second class upper degree in an excellent course. I finished NYSC with my second class lower degree and started work six months after. She was still job-hunting at this time.
Her job search usually went like this:
She would apply for a job
She would get called for the first stage (because she was qualified)
She would pass the first stage (usually a written exam–she is smart like that)
She would then promptly blow the next stage
This sequence repeated for most jobs she applied for.
One day, I asked her how she felt about her job search. She said, “Sometimes, I feel like hiding….like I don’t want to be seen again.”
She was losing hope.
Remember in 2014 when NLNG was recruiting? She had applied for that and was called for the first stage, which she wrote. I taught her how to get connections to NLNG staff and within 2 weeks of work, she was talking to five staff of NLNG.
In my follow-up with her, I asked her how her interactions with the staff were going and she told me she had stopped contacting them. After a few questions, it came out that she didn’t believe she wrote well enough to be called for the next stage…that was why she stopped contacting them.
I was pissed.
She was sabotaging her own success because she had lost belief. I disliked the fact that she would throw away an opportunity that people would give a lot to get just because she didn’t believe she would be called for the next stage.
It is the job of the company recruitment team to find reasons to accept or reject you. Do not do their job for them. Your job is to be as prepared as possible to ace whatever test/interview questions they throw at you.
Success is peace of mind which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you made the effort to become the best of which you are capable.
– Coach John Wooden
Working with Janet was not easy because there were many layers of lack of belief to peel off.
One evening we were talking and she told me she had written an exam for KPMG.
I asked her, “Do you want this job?”
She replied with a very convincing, “Yes”.
I told her to set a 6-month deadline, within which she must get the job. This was to expire February 2015.
Then, we went to work.
Prior to this, I made sure her CV was in order. I also found out that her major weak point was the surging fear/anxiety she had before an interview panel. Her preparation usually failed her at this point in the process.
This was the major thing I worked with her on.
The Assessment Centre
She was successful in the first stage (as usual) and was invited for the next stage.
To prepare for this stage, we made a list of all the skills a company like KPMG would want.
Once this was done, I asked her to think through each skill and write a specific experience she had had, that highlighted either how she used the skill or how she developed the skill.
When we had finished this for the skills, I showed her how to put these experiences into her answers at her interview.
(Remember, companies don’t care if you tell them you are hardworking and self-motivated. All that is wind. But if you can give a specific real life experience that you went through that will show them that you have the skill/ability/trait, they will believe you and you will distinguish yourself.)
A major fear that she had was the huge gap of time on her CV, since she had been unemployed for upwards of a year.
Many of us have experiences and skills that many companies are looking for, but we don’t even know we have such skills.
For example, she had been the financial officer for her Youth Church for over a year. She was in charge of budget financing for the church and every expense had to pass through her. She made financial decisions and over her time, she had handled over four million naira.
This experience was branded as a Finance Manager handling a multimillion naira account for an NGO focused on youth development – financial empowerment, career development, character development etc.
Same experience, different words.
This made up for the gap in her CV, and positioned her as a more qualified candidate for the job since the experience was in finance.
Another example was her final year project. This project involved 153 experiments.
One hundred and fifty-three experiments!
As you read the last 2 lines, notice that thing that went off in your mind? That same thing went off in the minds of the interviewers. I made sure she told the story of these experiments in her interview. She actually went back to reread the documents of her project work to make sure she got the details flawlessly.
The detail of the experiments and the goal of the experiments positioned this experience as a strong illustration of attention to detail.
These two changes, and others we discussed made a massive difference between her and other candidates at the interview who were using the same copy-and-paste interview answers they get from the internet.
In December 2014, two months before the February 2015 deadline, she got the offer letter from KPMG.
So, how do you overcome lack of belief?
The answer is simple: plain hard work.
In your experience there are things that you currently take for granted like Janet. Because they happened to you, they seem unimportant, but when you brand them properly and tell them with the right words, magic happens.
Janet took her work as a youth church worker for granted. She took her one hundred and fifty-three experiments in her final year project for granted. These same things made her stand head and shoulders above the other candidates.
Remember that Mindset of Over-preparation we talked about?
You can have all these experiences, but if you don’t practice telling the stories over and over again until you can always get it correctly and always arouse the interest of the listeners, your stories will just make you look stupid in front of the interviewers.
I called Janet the day she was going for her interview. Turned out she hadn’t practiced her answers well enough and she blanked when saying the answers to me. I corrected her and made her say her answers over and over again on the phone till she had it right. I then told her to keep saying them over and over so she
wouldn’t blank in front of the interviewers.
Practice until it makes you vomit.
Practice till it hurts.
That is the way to beat others who compete with you for the same job. This preparation makes you believe, and your belief has a foundation that is built, not on empty confidence, but on solid preparation.
That is how you overcome lack of belief.
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