“An entry-level job is not for people without connections.”
Many Nigerians share the sentiment above. In fact, there is even a funny way Nigerians talk about job problems.
One of my friends captures the sentiment in a short, crisp form:
While this is true for some jobs, it’s untrue for most entry-level jobs.
To get an entry-level job, you don’t need a chain of “somebodys.” You only need to pass a chain of tests and interviews.
Passing entry-level tests and interviews is tough.
But it is not impossible.
I have seen many recent graduates get into top firms – Oil and Gas, Big 4 Accounting Firms, First-generation banks, Multinational FMCGs, and so on …
Aside the stories of my friends who got good entry-level jobs, I got myself into the audit arm of a Big 4. I had zero connections.
I know what you’re thinking, “oh you made a first class and probably studied Accounting.”
Far from that, I didn’t make a first class. And I studied Biochemistry at undergrad …
How did I pull this off?
I used a combination of strategies.
This is what I try to summarize below.
Read the strategies, digest them, and apply them to your own situation.
Here we go…
1) Change Your Mindset
You can’t get anywhere in life if you have these 3 beliefs.
I) Nigeria is filled with corruption, and is designed to make me jobless.
II) My village people are after me, and only a spiritual father or pastor can help me get a job
III) Nobody can get a job in Nigeria without knowing a chain of “somebodys.”
Now you must snap yourself out of these negative beliefs …
In fact, ff you share any of those beliefs above, you have a victim mentality.
And dropping that mentality is the necessary first step.
It’s the only way you can move forward.
2) Start Your Homemade Education
In his autobiography, A Homemade Education, Malcolm X talks about how he learned to read and write in his prison cell.
Malcolm taught himself to read by consuming books in the library during the day and on his bunk bed at night.
Even after his release, Malcolm continued to educate himself through books. He emphasizes the benefits of reading in the book,
“Every time I catch a plane, I have with me a book that I want to read – and that’s a lot of books these days. If weren’t out here every day battling the white man, I could spend the rest of my life reading … I don’t think anybody ever got more out of going to prison than I did. In fact, prison enabled me to study far more intensively than I would have if my life had gone differently and I had attended some college. … Where else but in a prison could I have attacked my ignorance by being able to study intensely sometimes as much as fifteen hours a day? ”
Most of what you studied in the University are theoretical. So, like Malcolm, you must design your own home-made education.
Not sure what to master or what to read?
You can’t go wrong with the ideas in Naval Ravikant’s How To Get Rich Without Getting Lucky Podcast
Why do you need to go down and study the fundamentals over again?
It’s what will stand you out from the competition.
Mastering these fundamentals will help you ace any entry-level test or interview.
This is important because passing those tests is the only way to show you can think critically.
3) Leave Your Comfort Zone
One mistake I see most graduates make is to assume that they can find decent entry-level jobs in any state in Nigeria.
Aside Lagos, most other Nigerian cities are over-rated.
Abuja is home to civil service jobs (you don’t want to get near this as the racketeering in the service will depress you).
Port Harcourt is for hustlers. If your heart is set towards a corporate career, you have no business in Port Harcourt.
There are so many issues with Lagos –the traffic, the population, the high cost of living, and the stress.
But to win in the struggle to land a job, you need to look beyond that. You must focus on what you stand to gain if you make that leap instead.
Don’t have a relative in Lagos? Talk to friends. Talk to class mates from University. You can always find somewhere to crash for 2 – 3 months as you find your feet.
This is the path I walked, leaving a comfy 3-bedroom apartment in Aba to squat with a friend in a self-contain at Ikeja.
I look back on the experience and am glad I took that bold step…
4) Apply To Every Entry-Level Job
So, you have changed your mindset. You have developed yourself through self-education. And you have also left your comfort zone behind.
Now is the time to take action. You need to apply to every entry-level job you see online. Interviewing is a skill which grows with practice.
Applying to every job doesn’t mean you’ll get offer letters for each of them. It means you’ll have lots of tests and interviews to use for practice.
I remember when I was job hunting.
I attended over 12 tests and interviews monthly.I passed most of the tests, but bungled the interviews. I always knew I had poor interviewing skills. So those interviews I bungled prepared me for the interviews I passed to join one of the Big 4s.
If there’s one statement everyone agrees with, it’s this:
“Deliberate practice makes perfect.”
5) Land Your Dream Job
When I was in school, I had dreams of the kind of company I’d love to work for and the salary I’d love to earn.
At the time, it looked like tall, impossible goals. But after I achieved those goals, I have come to realize that most job goals are reachable. All you need is to stand out from the competition.
So if you’re anything like me, you want to start your career with a decent entry-level job. Then you must change your mindset today, start your homemade education program, go where the jobs are, apply vigorously and certainly you’ll land your dream job…