I had entry level jobs before getting full-time offers.
I am Emmanuel. A social entrepreneur who is passionate about utilizing youthful power to solve problems. I founded the Youth Initiative for Economic Empowerment, a non-profit organisation, to tackle Africa’s biggest problem – unemployment and poverty – and also to digitise Africa. Through YIEE, I am bridging the gap between those who earn decent wages and those who do not; those who have access to technology and those who do not; those from a traditional background and those from a non-traditional background; as well as entrepreneurs who have access to mentors, funds and opportunities and those who don’t.
YIEE have helped 29 underrepresented youths land suitable jobs while inspiring 3, 500 to pursue a career in the digital industry. The nonprofit have over 1, 500 underrepresented job seekers in her community constantly retooling themselves for the future of work.
Also, YIEE has connected these youths to employees and recruiters working for top companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon, AT&T, the United Nations, TEDx, Facebook and a host of others. We create cultural diversity and inclusion by bringing together people from various continents. We also promote sustainable development for 5,000 youths through our programmes.
What inspired your passion for youth empowerment?
It emanated from my experience coming from an under-represented community. Living in a slum community was a disadvantage to me. The only industry-dominating my community was education (elementary to college). The salary offer wasn’t less than the minimum wage in Nigeria.
This drove me to pursue a degree in Computer Science and put my best into it. It was painful when I realised school can’t provide me with a decent job. Sadly, there is no structure put in place for an effective school to work transition.
While seeking an internship placement, I visited lots of companies in the city of Lagos. It was the worst time of my life because most gatemen didn’t even give me permission to the company premises. Till today, none of the companies where I submitted my letter from the institution got back to me. Having no connection with anyone in technology companies or a guarantee of an internship, unlike others, I felt doomed and distressed.
Immediately, I realised the system is broken and someone must rise to fix this.
Emmanuel, you gotta fix this! I said aloud.
I had people land jobs through LinkedIn. So I came to LinkedIn to land a job. I applied for 200+ jobs with a 4-page resume as an undergraduate with no experience.
Well, it ended in premium tears.
I got no offer.
If you are an undergraduate, please never have a 4-page resume like me. One page resume is fine.
Well, I began learning from nontraditional but successful people in terms of careers. I conducted tons of research, watched hundreds of career videos, read tons of articles till I was confident that I am enough.
Amazingly, I landed my first internship opportunity 2-weeks after a thorough 3 months of learning and development.
Within a year, I’ve repeated my strategies to land me 3 internships and 2 full-time roles.
The Job search strategy I used?
- Identify the role you want to work in: Firstly, I got to understand the more specific you are with your application. The better. So, I identify roles that are of great interest to me – digital marketing.
- Examine job descriptions for skills needed: After role identification, I immediately proceed to highlight skills demanded by companies in that role. For example, using LinkedIn, I searched for digital marketing jobs. Then in the requirement section, I identified the hard skills required. I advise doing this for 10 job openings in different companies. You can use Jobseer if you need an automated tool to assist you with this.
- Develop highlighted skills: I devoted time to developing the skills highlighted in the job description. I achieve this using resources like edX, Skill Up Program, Coursera, Udemy and many more.
- Create a portfolio: A portfolio shows proof of your works. Ensure you use the skills you’ve acquired during the course to create projects. Put these works online together in one place. Some recommended portfolio websites are LinkedIn, Contently, Journo portfolio.
- Create a killer resume: A resume is your sales document. You need to invest time in learning how to create a killer resume. There is always a need to tailor your resume to every job you are applying to.
- Job application: Apply for at least 1 job per day and keep a record of all your applications. You can access YIEE free job application tracker here.
I discovered education is not an end but a means to an end. Going to school doesn’t equate to getting a suitable job but it can only give you an edge.
What are your thoughts about making entry-level jobs entry level?
In the USA, 4 million or 18% of all college students graduate each year. An estimate of 53% of college graduates are unemployed or working in a job that doesn’t require a bachelor’s degree. It takes the average college graduate three to six months to secure employment after graduation.
Many individuals and companies have lent their voices calling corporate bodies to make entry-level jobs entry level.
Over the past few years, we have seen more and more entry-level or internships role requiring 1 – 5 years of experience. This is awful because fresh graduates and students need a job to get experience.
Now that a great number of hiring managers are making years of experience a prerequisite to getting entry-level roles, there needs to be a change to make the employment cycle more sustainable.
Many freshmen and job seekers lamented about this. I’ve picked a handful of few.
Rubenhood Valles lamented saying “This is timely relevant as of now. I am also a fresh graduate. I always encounter the same scenario from recruiters and other companies, this is getting frustrating.”
Gaurav Julka said, University graduate tech roles: Have at least 3 full cycles of project experience 😢
Something needs to be done urgently. Some recruiters who advocated for job seekers spoke out about this saying “I will communicate to my hiring manager to remove the years it experiences from entry-level roles.”
This is a great move. As recruiters are the right-hand fellow of the hiring manager and the company’s representative to the labour market.
All recruiters in both the corporate and informal world should advise their hiring managers to remove years of experience from entry-level and internship roles.
So let us make entry-level jobs entry level.
To combat unemployment all sectors need to work together. Pathways need to be created for students and freshmen to provide an effective school-to-work transition.