17 Jun 2019

The caption above might lead a lot of youths to ask, “why bother with school?”

Have you ever wondered why most ‘blue chip’ firms would always advertise for GRADUATE TRAINEES?

Note the word in capital letters.

These words have vital connotations which is descriptive of the status of a certified scholar, especially at the first (bachelor’s) degree level.

Firstly, the title ‘Graduate’ ascertains the legitimate acquisition of the certificate, while the word ‘Trainee’ implies the lack of competence. However, obtaining the certificate (becoming a graduate) is a precondition to being considered ‘a Trainee’. By implication, such adverts imply that being a graduate is what makes you fit for further training, thus emphasizing the fact your certificate is not enough to land you that dream job.

However, most fresh graduates pay very little attention to their need for training and always foresee themselves suitable for paid employment simply because they have met the basic requirement. They fail to see that there is first a ‘basic’ condition and then a ‘sufficient’ condition for gaining any employment. This failure is largely responsible for the un-employability status of most Nigerian graduates.

How? One might be tempted to ask. And I answer with a story.

“I once met a fresh graduate (female) who on finding out I worked with a HR firm requested I help her get a job. Very eager to help, I gave her my email to forward her CV and before long, I got her an interview opportunity, to which she obliged and affirmed attendance.

On the interview day proper she was absent and I called her to find out why?

Her response; “I’m sorry I can’t take the job oo, the pay is too small for me, I’m even a graduate for that matter how can I take such amount”.

This was the same girl that was delighted to take the job the other day, she didn’t give the reason of house rent; of which I know she stays with her parents, or her transport to work if at all she got the job (she stays close anyway). Instead, it was because she is a graduate so she would rather stay home until she finds that “one million naira job”. There are millions of graduates in Nigeria and a lot more are on their way out.

This attitude leaves a lot to be desired from someone who literally was jobless and had requested assistance in getting fixed up. It’s also clear that if and when a suitably paying job comes, there is no way she would do well at the interview given her attitude

First of all, you are yet to demonstrate capacity to function on the role and your only worry is the pay? How about performance? One thing is evident from such a candidate, the possession of an over bloated sense of entitlement without a commensurate level of commitment to justify same.

Herein lies the problem with most Nigerian graduates, who see employments as a meal ticket instead of a vehicle to offer value. The focus is always on the pay without an evaluation of the measure of value added or created.

Trainees are employees paid to ‘learn on the job’. Companies that engage in hiring graduate and further training them understand that there’s limited field exposure to the foundation that basic academics provide,

Two things are evident in the vacancy advertorial for ‘Graduate Trainees’. They include:

  1. Your paper certificate which confers you with ‘graduate’ status while been a basic criteria, is not a sufficient criteria for performance on any job.
  2. It highlights the fact that every fresh graduate is practically deficient and in need of training.

However, not everyone will be so lucky as to get employment as a ‘Graduate Trainee’ (which implies being paid while you train); as the current employment realities points to an overwhelming availability of experienced individuals out there who are always too eager to take these jobs, even those meant for fresh graduates. Hence companies (except for highly structured organization guarded by policy), feel no need to spend on training an individual when they have tons of experienced ones to choose from.

It is therefore dependent on that fresh graduate who is unable to land ‘graduate trainee’ position to seek out opportunities for training. However, for this candidate, it’s clear that she is not one such graduate.

For me as a hiring manager, the number one key employability trait I look out for in candidates is ‘the right attitude’. This is expected to include the following:

  1. Willingness to learn (Which implies an acknowledgement of inherent inadequacies)
  2. A positive ‘can do’ spirit
  3. A desire to add value (willingness to always be helpful)
  4. Willingness to start little and justify entitlement to higher pay

A fresh graduate is a new born in the labour market and must thus be fed the right nutrients under the right conditions for proper development. One of such right conditions is the possession of the right mindset, which engenders the right attitude. The nutrients being a mix of both practical and theoretical exposures to everyday occurrences on the job.

While one may not always land a job that provides such opportunities, one may seek them out by volunteering for organisations with similar interests or seizing up available employment while looking to learn and grow from it.

The pay you get at month’s end is supposed to be a fraction of your value to your employer and not a fee for being a liability, because if you are not adding value, then you are devaluing the company.

Quit focusing on the certificate, focus on yourself and your capacity to add value. Focus on you skills and how best to develop them. Focus on getting better than anyone else at whatever it is you do and watch your ‘value’ experience a tremendous boost.

Pivotage Employability academy offers you a free chance to do so. Take it.

Good luck!