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Overcoming Barriers to Job Search Success
Looking for a job? What's stopping you? A Jidaw.com online survey on the barriers to job search success may provide clues. Inputs were received using the high traffic pages for job search Joblisting and Jobs in Nigeria during the months of April and May in 2009. As expected, perceptions differed. The aim, however of this analysis is simple: to extract useful, helpful insights for achieving job search success..
What does the user data indicate? Figure 1 which summarizes the survey results, i.e. User data response for each barrier, shows: Lack of up-to-date education, skills and knowledge (12%), Not having information on available job and career opportunities (28%), Lack of a personal support network of friends, family, colleagues, acquaintances (15%), Not having the required job search skills & attitude, not knowing how to search (14%), Lack of work experience (31%).
Work experience is the big masquerade dreaded by the majority. To most of the participants in the online community effort, lack of work experience is the main deterrent to job hunting achievement. Interestingly, lack of up-to-date educations got the lowest votes. Compared to other barriers deficient, insufficient education is not seen as the chief stumbling block by most voters. You may have issues with the data is saying. But it's not a question of right or wrong. It's about perceptions. What is the reality you face? The way forward is not condemnation, silver bullet answers or fail-proof interpretations. Let's examine the results as well as underlying themes in each barrier.
A) Lack of up-to-date education, skills and knowledge (12%)
Do you have what it takes to meet expectations, including soft skills? Formal education is inadequate if the lack of practical expertise hampers your effectiveness. This can cost you if others competing with you for opportunity have taken the initiative. Learning is for life in today's knowledge economy. And that's why non formal educational opportunities including training, certification and online learning are paramount to career growth. Low appreciation for knowledge may be due to our fast track values. Looking only at today we often fail to see the linkage between the wealth in our head and securing the future. If you value knowledge in a practical sense, you won't be left behind. If you don't value knowledge enjoy your stone age experience in dinosaur-land. Many also equate certificates with knowledge. But knowledge must connect with your ability to contribute and self reliance. Contribution provides the foundation for your success in marketing yourself.
B) Not having information on available job and career
The quality of information at your disposal affects your decisions and opportunities. What is the sense in having top notch software programming qualifications without information on sources of IT job and career opportunities? Job search requires Information management - where is the source of information, do you have what it takes to get the information you need in a timely and cost-effective manner?
And where do you search? Are you looking for fish in the desert? How do you dig for opportunities that match your needs? Lack of information appears to be a major hindrance because we limit ourselves to comfortable, traditional and highly competitive sources. Why should the majority depend 100% on job adverts when as will be shown later in this piece this is not the major source of job and career opportunities? And never forget that information is not the main objective. It's about how you use information in your own way and for your own purposes in the job search.
C) Lack of a personal support network of friends, family,
colleagues, acquaintances (15%)
It's ironic that this is not seen as one of the top barriers by most even though 85% of opportunities come from personal networking. Could it be that we take our personal networks for granted? Inflated egos tend to ignore the power of people. If you're searching for opportunity you better realize now that people are your most important resource in any job search. Job search is more than qualifications and talent. Connecting with people can lead to advice, job leads and referrals. But we need to network all the time and we must know that association is not enough. Disrespecting people on the job, at social events, in job selection interviews because you feel you don't need them now amounts to burning bridges you may need tomorrow. Personal networking enhances your opportunities not just by knowing what you want, but with the positive picture of who you are and what you stand for.
D) Not having the required job search skills & attitude, not knowing how to search (14%),
We must get past job information to include packaging. You got a good job lead but on interview day is your packaging right? The majority do not take this as a major hindrance because we forget that the job search is not over until you get the job. We think job search skills are restricted to getting job information, having a nice CV and cover letter and showing up at the interview. First is your application good enough for the interview shortlist? And at all stages of the job search it is critical that you come across as the best person for the job, not as a pretender. The job search success isn't strictly about you or your needs - not what you can get but what you can give. Organizations are not recruiting people looking for a job; they want to hire problem solvers and solution providers. Set yourself apart. Don't be seen as just another accountant or just another IT professional.
E) Lack of work experience (31%)
Lack of work experience is perceived by most as the major hurdle to getting a job. To newcomers this makes sense as, “the job seeker wants experience and employers too want experience”. However, does majority rule? Or are we scared of creativity? For example, how many have considered “paying for experience” - getting nothing or less than you deserve for quality work experience. Indeed, more often than not, we choose money over quality job opportunity. You want experience but have you considered creating your own experience - through home labs for those in technology, volunteering, internships or setting up your own business. It's hard to think like this with a mindset fixated on paid employment and “good jobs”. But job security is dead and entrepreneurs are the drivers of change and reward. Do you just want to get by or get ahead? Moaning and complaining won't help. Traditional, status quo ideas have had their day. Employ radical new thinking and action to overcome barriers erected by lack of work experience.
I hope you now see the real barriers to job search success. First and foremost, we must understand that there are no formulas. What is your thinking and what works for you? Looking for a job? Can you handle the truth? The barriers are not the problem. No obstacle is insurmountable. The greatest hurdles are within us. The truth is that we must be people-friendly and be honest and creative in our application of knowledge and ethics. And finally, go beyond the job. There is no tomorrow in any job. Tomorrow belongs to you.
Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com
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