careers advice

General tips for finding and applying
for a job in Nigeria

 

Writing CVs

Majority of the Nigerian recruitment websites seem to prefer a maximum of a 2 page ‘standard’ or ‘chronological’ CV in the order of the following headings:

Personal details - full name as the heading of the CV with address, contact number and email address

Profile/Objective – career objective and summary of Education, training and other qualifications – a list of the suggested headings; and new graduates are asked for their class of degree.

Employment History – a chronological order of the jobs, starting with the most recent with details of company name, job title, dates of employment and major accomplishments.

Additional Information – if there is room this section can include hobbies, computer skills, or memberships.

References – not required but should be entered if specifically requested.

A number of companies in Nigeria charge for writing CVs ranging from a standard CV at N2500 (£10) to specialist CV at N7500 (£30), for example, EditmyCV.  

Reference:

Application forms

International companies have their own application forms which are normally online, and candidates are required to log onto their website by completing a registration form before starting their application.  

Jobs are advertised through various websites and as this is an international market some jobs are advertised on the company website whilst international ones either advertise on their own website by registering online, recruitment or information websites.

Preparing for Interviews

A number of Nigerian websites provide similar information about preparing for interviews.  A number of companies recruit at an international level so it is important to check the style and format of the interview.  (Appendix 3 has examples of styles and format for general interviews and specific information for preparing for interviews in Nigeria):

Step 1: Pre-planning 
  • Date/place - when called for an interview, confirm the interview time and place.  
  • Tests - Ask if there will be any test or written assignment you will be asked to do. 
  • Interviewers - Find out who and how many people will be interviewing you.  
  • Type of interview - Check what type of interview it will be, for example, is it a telephone, panel, group, or sequential interview.
  • Format of interview - Find out what type format the interview will be, for example, competency based (a structured interview to reflect the competencies the employer is seeking for the particular job), formal/informal interview and the second interview or behavioral interviews.
Step 2: Logistics and appearance
  • Travel arrangements – find out before the day of the interview the location of your interview and how long it will take to get there with the chosen means of transport.  Ensure you allow enough time to arrive 10-15 minutes before the interview.
  • Dress code – choose your clothes in advance and ensure they are neat, clean and well groomed.  
Step 3: Research the job and company 

Research the company and the job role.  Research questions can entail:

  • What does the employer or company do?
  • What’s involved in the position you’re applying for?
  • What qualifications do you need for the position?
  • What skills might the employer be looking for?
  • Who are the customers or clients?
  • What kind of reputation does the employer have?

You’ll be more comfortable in the interview if you know a bit about the company and the position you’re applying for.

Reference:   NBF jobs (Nigerian Best Forum) 

Step 4: Interview Questions 

Prepare and practice for potential questions, but not having an over-rehearsed answer. Below are questions you might be asked:

  • What are your goals on a long term period and on a short one regarding your career?
  • Why have you chosen this industry to build a career?
  • Have you ever used your persuasion skills in order to achieve your goal? If you had, describe the situation.
  • Have you ever been involved in a project that required working with people that came from different backgrounds? Describe the experience.
  • Can you describe me a situation that required you to use your skills in order to prevent a possible conflict?

Behavioural-Based Questions - A couple of Nigerian websites suggested the following:

  • Give me a recent example of a situation you have faced when the "pressure was on". What happened? How did you handle it?
  • Give me an example of a recent situation when you disagreed with someone on the job. What were your options for settling it? Why did you choose the option you did?
  • Give me an example of a decision you had to make quickly or under pressure. How did you approach it and how did it work out?
  • Tell me about a time when you had to go above and beyond the call of duty in order to get a job done.
  •  Give me an example of an important goal that you had set in the past and tell me about you success in reaching it.
  • Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way. 
  • By providing examples, convince me that you can adapt to a wide variety of people, situations, and environments.
  • Describe a project you were responsible for starting. What did you do? How did it work out?
  • When, in a past job, did you find it important to disagree with your boss? How did you approach him/her and what was the result?
  • Give me an example of a time when you had to manage multiple projects simultaneously. How did you prioritize them?
  • What major problem have you encountered and how did you deal with it? 
  • Describe the relationship that should exist between a supervisor and subordinates?

Reference:  Wazobiajobs.com (Nigerian recruitment firm) 

Stage 5 – What to take to the interview
  • CV - Carry a folder with a copies of your CV for each interviewer (hence why it’s good to ask how many people will be interviewing you).
  • References or recommendations - copies of your reference list.
  • Paper and pen -  to write down interviewer’s name, time of any future interviewer, or other information you might need later.
  • Recommendations - copies of letters of recommendation if required.

Reference:  NBF jobs (Nigerian Best Forum) 

Stage 6 – You are at the interview

You’re at your job interview. Stay relaxed and make a good impression. Here are some suggestions to help you make sure this step of your journey gets off on the right foot.

Greet the interviewer or panel members. Introduce yourself, and shake hands firmly, without crushing anyone’s fingers. Smile. A sincere smile will help to put you, and the interviewer, at ease. Stand until you’re invited to sit down.

Let the employer or panel members take the lead and set the tone. Make eye contact, and answer the questions in a firm, clear, confident voice. Relax and sit naturally, but don’t slouch in your chair or lean on the interviewer’s desk. Be prepared to tell the interviewer more about your education, training and skills, work experience, and the personality traits that make you right for the job.

It’s okay to ask for more explanation if you don’t understand a question. In fact, it’s better to ask for clarification if you are unsure than to answer inappropriately. Keep a positive attitude.

At some point in the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. This is where your research and preparation pays off.  Have a couple of questions prepared that show you are interested and informed about the company, or ask for more detailed information about the position you’re applying for.

Reference: NBF jobs (Nigerian Best Forum)

Interview′s Dos and Don′ts specifically for Nigeria
  • Do take a practice run to the location where you are having the interview — or be sure you know exactly where it is and how long it takes to get there.
  • Do your research and know the type of job interview you will be encountering. And do prepare and practice for the interview, but don’t memorize or over-rehearse your answers.
  • Do dress the part for the job, the company, the industry.
  • Do plan to arrive about 10 minutes early. Late arrival for a job interview is never excusable. If you are running late, do phone the company.
  • Do greet the receptionist or assistant with courtesy and respect. This is where you make your first impression.
  • Do greet the interviewer’s) by title (Ms., Mr., Dr.) and last name if you are sure of the pronunciation. (If you’re not sure, do ask the receptionist about the pronunciation before going into the interview.
  • Do shake hands firmly. Don’t have a limp or clammy handshake!
  • Do wait until you are offered a chair before sitting. And do remember body language and posture: sit upright and look alert and interested at all times.
  • Do make good eye contact with your interviewer(s).
  • Do show enthusiasm in the position and the company.
  • Do avoid using poor language, slang, and pause words (such as “like,” “uh,” and “um”).
  • Do have a high confidence and energy level, but don’t be overly aggressive.
  • Do stress your achievements. Avoid offering any negative information about yourself.
  • If presented with a job application form, do fill it out neatly, completely, and accurately.
  • Do bring extra resumes to the interview.
  • And do brush your teeth, use mouthwash, or have a breath mint before the interview.
  • Don’t chew gum during the interview Don’t fidget or slouch.
  • Don’t tell jokes during the interview.
  • Don’t be soft-spoken. A forceful voice projects confidence.
  • Don’t act as though you would take any job or are desperate for employment.
  • Do avoid controversial topics.
  • Don’t ever lie. Answer questions truthfully, frankly and succinctly. And don’t over-answer questions.
  • Don’t rely on your application or resume to do the selling for you. No matter how qualified you are for the position, you will need to sell yourself to the interviewer.
  • Don’t smoke, even if the interviewer does and offers you a cigarette. And don’t smoke beforehand so that you smell like smoke.

Reference:  Editmycv.com (Nigeria)

 

Networking - Creating a Professional Online Presence

When professionals refer to networking to advance their career, many times they are simply referring to their use of the social networking site LinkedIn.com

Yes, LinkedIn has done a fantastic job of branding itself as the #1 method to grow your professional network along with over 300 million professionals.

LinkedIn affords professionals the opportunity to Power their careers, Connect, Find, and be found.


Creating a Presence on Linked-In
Getting Started

Whether you’re starting out on LinkedIn for a job hunt, a strategic partnership or a way to open up a new opportunity, you need a strong professional network (think quality over quantity). Without this online rolodex, it is much more difficult to get through the door of a whole spectrum of possible career choices or business relationships. If you know the industry you want to get into and you have a few places to target, developing strong connections with people in your work field would help you greatly. It’s like Facebook…but for professionals only. Registration is free. Once registered, you can begin to network with people and utilize LinkedIn to its full potential.

To get the most out of what LinkedIn can do for your job search or for your business venture, follow these 5 easy steps.

1. Re-connect with old friends and colleagues – If you know any previous employers, colleagues, peers, associates and acquaintances – you should find a way to get in touch with them. Send them an invite to connect with them and see what’s going on. Re-introduce yourself and make a fresh start. Always re-acquaint with old friends or colleagues so that you can develop a deeper connection with them in the future.

2. Find recruiters and hiring managers on LinkedIn – One of the best ways to make quick connections is to upgrade to a premium account. This will allow you to connect with any recruiter on LinkedIn and fully optimize your job search. Not only do you have access to over 100 million member profiles, you can contact any of the industry professionals on LinkedIn you want! You get expanded search results, expanded profile viewing and an expanded view of who has seen your profile as well. That’s a lot of access! So take advantage.

3. Develop a strong contact list – You should constantly develop relationships with business partners to make sure they know you via your personal and professional brand.If you can make strong connections you will already have a higher percentage of gaining new opportunities. LinkedIn is a great place to reach out and build partnerships, arrange meetings and to discuss plans. Collaboration is your competitive advantage and LinkedIn gives you that edge.

4. Join LinkedIn groups and relevant discussions – Engage in daily topics in groups and join relevant discussions. If you want to add more connections, you have to be active on LinkedIn daily. It’s not enough to just reply to someone’s post, you have to start your own discussions and get people to join in on your conversation. This way, you will have a number of followers that you can share and gather information with.

5. Make connections with people you don’t know – For example, if you like someone’s blog, why not reference their name on LinkedIn and send them an invite saying you really enjoy reading their content?

Did you know that for every connection you make, you have access to their personal connections as well? You can use this tool to your advantage by sending InMails to a targeted audience. Start sharing your profile with as many people as you can to jumpstart your career.

TIP: The best way to connect with new people on LinkedIn is to introduce yourself. Think of how you would approach a professional at a junction that you didn’t know but have read their blog or even seen them on TV. Don’t just send an invite to someone and wait for them to reply. Show that you’re interested in getting to know them, especially if you are in the same industry as they are in. A couple of sentences could go a long way. Never ever go with the standard invite.

An example:

Hi Amos, thanks for sharing good suggestions, links on the group discussion and your website. Like to keep in touch instead of only using the “follow” button. Thanks! VW

After you tried optimizing your network on LinkedIn, you should build solid relationships with your contacts. If one of your connections refers you to their hiring manager or even sends your job application to their department, you must send them a thank-you letter as a token of your appreciation. You could even arrange a time to thank them in person or make a call over the phone to personally show your gratitude. These little things can go a long way when it comes to developing strong connections with people in your own industry.

Source: Resume Target

 

Raising your LinkedIn profile among recruiters 

Any recruiter will tell you that they are signed on to LinkedIn.com every single day. Why? Because recruiting has taken on the saying of “out with the old and in with the new”. When LinkedIn came onto the scene, the entire profession of recruiting instantly changed.

Instead of using traditional methods to source candidates, they now have hundreds of thousands (and now millions) of candidates right at the tips of their fingers. Without having to leave their desks, they are now able to view the professional background of all of these potential candidates based on their LinkedIn profiles.

So why haven’t you ever been contacted by a recruiter on LinkedIn?

 

Six ways to optimize your profile in order to grab the attention of recruiters
The Three Cs – Current, Complete and Concise

Current: Creating a profile on LinkedIn is the first step in the right direction, but you also need to make yourself current. This means that you should be actively involved in the LinkedIn community. You can post updates regarding your career, share links to interesting articles you’ve read, or link your Twitter account up to your LinkedIn account so that your tweets are shared with your connections.

Complete: It doesn’t take long to browse through LinkedIn to find some atrocious profiles. Having an incomplete (or completely bare) LinkedIn profile, is just as bad as submitting an unfinished resume for a job posting. This will always hurt you more than help you. As soon as you sign up for a LinkedIn account, they automatically walk you through the steps of completing your profile. Aim to have an 80% completeness score, to start off, and then later you can add more information into the profile.

Concise: LinkedIn does not confine your information to a two-page limit the way a resume will, but that does not mean you can include every single position you’ve ever had. You will easily lose a recruiter’s attention on a lengthy profile page, the same way you would lose it in a 5-page resume. You must remain concise! Outline all of the key pieces of information, but make sure you still have something to say if you’re asked to expand upon each point.

Keywords

Skills & Expertise: The new and improved LinkedIn profiles now offer a Skills & Expertise section where you can include in-demand keywords into your profile. Once you start typing a common keyword, you will see a drop-down list appear with common keywords to choose from. This is an incredibly easy way to incorporate effective keywords into your profile.

Job Postings: If you’re really at a loss for what the keywords for your role are, look up job postings that are similar to your position. Throughout the responsibilities and requirements sections, you will easily be able to pinpoint the common keywords that are used across a variety of companies, and then incorporate them into your profile.

Google Adwords Keyword Tool: This tool provided by Google allows you to see which keywords yield the highest number of searches. It seems like a small detail, but “Client Relations” and “Client Relationships” could get you two very different levels of results. This is a great way to know that you’ve made the right choices in regards to the keywords you’ve included.

Profile Photo

Professional Photo: First things first – this isn’t Facebook. This is a professional networking site, and you must look professional in your photo. You should be wearing something you would wear to work or to an interview, and have a warm smile on your face (it doesn’t have to look like a passport photo). Once that is all taken care of, make sure the background you choose has no distractions, and ensure the photo is from your shoulders up. If you’ve ever had a professional headshot done, this would be a great use for it.

Visibility: Many people opt out of the Linkedin Profile Photo either because they don’t have a professional photo to upload, or because they don’t want people to know what they look like. This is a poor decision. Including a photo into your LinkedIn profile instantly increases your visibility on LinkedIn by 7 times. Also, by having a friendly face at the top of the page, the recruiter will see you as a person, and not just text on a webpage.

Networking

Connections: You could have the greatest LinkedIn profile in the world, but if you don’t have any connections, it won’t get you very far. Building up your network of connections is one of the most important tools on LinkedIn. A great way to get started is to use your e-mail address book to find contacts who are already members of LinkedIn. You can also use the “People You May Know” tool to connect with friends, family members, and colleagues from past or present.

Groups: Another great way to meet professionals on LinkedIn is by joining groups. There are a multitude of groups on LinkedIn for every field, profession and industry. You can browse through the groups and choose a few that really relate to what you are looking for. By actively participating in groups, you can easily build new relationships which will lead to more connections.

Recruiters: Instead of waiting around for recruiters to find you, why don’t you take the lead and connect with some recruiters. By conducting a people search in LinkedIn, you will be able to find recruiters within your targeted industry and field. It is completely acceptable for you to reach out to them and request a connection. Don’t be shy – LinkedIn is all about expanding your network.


Value Statement & Headline

Introduction: You will notice that the LinkedIn profile begins with a Summary section. Treat this section the same way you would treat the introductory value statement on your resume. You want to immediately tell this recruiter what your current job title is, what your industry focus is, how many years of experience you have, your academic background, and a brief highlight of achievements. This will catch the recruiter’s attention and intrigue them enough to continue reading through your profile.

Headline: When you appear in search results on LinkedIn, the recruiter will see your picture and your headline, and that information must be interesting enough for them to click on your name. The headline will also help you appear in search results for specific keywords. Instead of listing your headline as your current role, such as “Senior Chartered Accountant at KPMG”, list your headline as your strongest keywords, such as “Accounting | Auditing | Management”. Your current role is already listed in the information box at the top of your profile, so focus on the keywords that will get you noticed.


Recommendations – Give & Receive

Give: Before sending out a mass message requesting recommendations from your former employers and colleagues, start off by providing recommendations for them. If you’ve taken the time out to improve their profile on LinkedIn, it’s far more professional when you ask for a recommendation in return. Many LinkedIn users will respond automatically by providing you with a recommendation as well, without you even having to ask.

Receive: Be sure to request recommendations from professionals that you maintained a relationship with over time. You want the recommendation to reflect the depth of your relationship with this colleague, and not to sound like a generic statement. Also, always send a thank you note to anyone who provides you with a recommendation. They’ve helped you improve your visibility on LinkedIn, which may just land you a new job one day.

Source: Resume Target