As university students inch closer to graduation, one major feeling that sets in is panic. Panic from fear of facing the distressful and ever aggravating situation of unemployment in the country.
While a lucky few receive job offers at the end of their undergraduate study, the vast majority will begin (and even complete) their national service without any post-graduation study or work plan.
In an interview with Citi fm, the head of the economic division at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), University of Ghana, Dr. Charles Ackah, said there are currently over 200,000 unemployed graduates in Ghana, in addition to the over 71,000 graduates being pushed to the job market this year – describing the unemployment situation as a ticking time bomb.
The Minister of Employment and Labour Relations, Haruna Iddrisu, also very recently, described the current unemployment situation as a national security threat which needs to be resolved urgently.
I hoped to find at least one good news on unemployment as I put this piece together. Unfortunately, I found none.
This is not to scare anyone, but to paint the grim reality we face in the country with regards to unemployment.
Dr. Ackah attributed this situation to the fact that the current economic situation has drastically reduced both the government and the private sector’s capacity to employ people.
As much as I agree with that point, I would also like to add that sometimes our own laziness or ego doesn’t help the situation. There are steps we can take to grab some of the few opportunities out there.
The other unfortunate thing Dr. Ackah noted is that one’s tendency to land a job is now highly decreased by higher education. He said that in the past, unemployment was related to lack of education but now, the more educated you are, the more likely you are going to be unemployed. So sorry folks, paying huge fees for higher education isn’t exactly an easy escape.
Having noted the dwindling opportunities out there, what can final year students or fresh graduates do to secure jobs for themselves?
The truth is; even if the unemployment situation was okay, and no matter how many new jobs the economy adds, it’s up to final year students or graduates to go get them. Most students actually do very little to secure jobs. You can’t expect the jobs to come to you. You have to be proactive.
So, after yapping on for so long, here are five ways to rev up your search and increase your chances of completing with a job offer in hand. (culled from Business Insider).
1. Forget landing your dream job. Focus on what can get you there in the future.
While your first job can serve as a springboard for your professional future, it’s not going to make or break your career, and it certainly won’t be your last. “There is a fear in deciding what to pursue, and a fear that the choice will be right or wrong,” says Lori Balantic, a senior associate director in Connecticut College’s career counseling program. But choosing a first job isn’t an indictment on your future, she says. Rather, it’s a chance to explore a new field, build a network, and gain skills and insight that will serve you regardless of where your career path goes.
You do not have to get a job that is as fancy or fancier than your friend’s job. Just go out there and start working.
For most Millennials, that path will be long and winding. “These days, college graduates are staying in their first job for 18 to 30 months and then moving on,” notes Gruverman. Instead of searching for your dream job, “find something that will position you for your career goals,” she advises. “Pick something interesting that will present you with challenges that will make you more marketable for your next job.”
In Ghana, one of the best places to you can start a job search is jobberman.com.gh. It is a job search portal that makes the process very simple and effective in finding what interests you.
2. Map out each week of your final semester, so you can visualize how you’ll achieve your goal.
There are about 13 weeks in the final semester and a couple more weeks or months to graduation depending on the course you offered. Use this period to figure out what your goals are after school or national service — be it a job offer or grad school or other further studies — and then make a week-by-week plan for achieving that goal.
A sample plan may look something like this:
- Visit the career services of your campus. At the University of Ghana for example, you can visit the Counseling and Placement Center or more preferably, the newly inaugurated Employability Hub.
- Make a list of your interests, skills, and desires for your first job.
- Create or update your LinkedIn account, and check your social media profiles to make sure you aren’t sending the wrong message to a potential employer.
- Update your resume. Click here for help on that.
- Join your college’s alumni network and plan on attending a few upcoming events or panels.
- Talk to everyone you know about what you’re thinking about, especially professors, parents or mentors who know you well.
- Reach out to three alumni in your field of interest and ask if you can take them out to coffee or set up a 30-minute phone call where they talk about their experience.
- Set aside a few hours each week to peruse job listings through your college’s career services or other job search portals like jobberman.com.gh, and make a list of everything that interests you, even if you’re not qualified.
- Apply, apply, apply!
Jumping headfirst into hundreds of job listings can be incredibly overwhelming and demotivating, so it’s important to first think about who you are, what you’re interested in, and what you’re qualified for, so that you can tailor your job strategy to meet your unique goals and deadlines.
3. Make an appointment with Career Services — ASAP.
For student job seekers, a visit to career services should be top priority. “College career centers are a wealth of information for students,” says Gruverman. Some of the dozens of resources they provide include internal job boards, lists of alumni you can contact in a variety of fields, self-assessment tests, sample resumes and cover letters, and information about applying to grad school.
The most valuable services they provide, however, are one-on-one meetings with career experts who can review your resume, conduct mock interviews, connect you to alumni, and help you practice your 90-second pitch.
“Students should be able to talk about their experiences and skills, and why they would make a great candidate for a job in 90 seconds or less,” says Gruverman. Whether you practice with a friend, a career counselor, or the mirror, the important thing is make sure you don’t sound too robotic or rehearsed. “Practice will make networking feel a lot less awkward,” she adds. Checkout the University of Ghana Employability Hub if you are a student there.
4. Network your heart out.
“We encourage our students to think of everyone as a potential networking resource,” says Gruverman. “Fellow students, peers, lecturers, alumni. You never know where that conversation can take you.”
Balantic agrees. “I’ve noticed that students often neglect to mention what they are thinking about for post-BA with their most immediate network during the semester: their fellow students and professors,” she says.
This is a critical mistake. Networking is one of the most important things you can do to increase your chances of getting a job, and it will continue to be important throughout your career.
While it may feel extremely uncomfortable to sell yourself as a potential candidate, remember that most people you speak to are eager to help students because they were once in your position themselves. (And don’t worry — even people with years of practice think networking is awkward, so you’re in good company.)
The important thing is to make connections and keep in touch. It’s good practice to send notes to people you meet at networking events, says Gruverman. “This gives you the chance to follow up again and it will make sure you’re on their mind in case they see a job opportunity that they think you’d be good for.”
5. Keep an open mind, and apply to everything.
“The more applications you submit, the higher your response rate will be,” says Gruverman. She recommends submitting 20 to 30 job applications a WEEK, though your counselor may adjust that depending on the kinds of jobs you’re applying to.
Above all, keep an open mind. As Balantic says, there are no “right” or “wrong” jobs, only different kinds of experiences. Don’t limit yourself to one company, one position, or even one industry, because you never know what opportunities you might miss by closing off your options too soon. In other words, “Make a plan from which to deviate.”
And don’t forget to proofread! You don’t want to send out the wrong impression. Not to say use big words in your application – that can be annoying to read. Just make sure there are no spelling mistakes otherwise you will just come of us unserious or careless.
Now get on jobberman.com.gh and start applying!