It’s no news that good jobs are hard to come by, especially in a developing nation like Nigeria. But as hard as it may seem to find one job and hold on to it, lots of people are finding several job offers and changing jobs with ease. You might want to ask what exactly these people have or possess that gives them that edge above others in getting and holding jobs with a variety of employers, and how they seemingly easily move across different employment sectors through their working life.
The answer is not far-fetched; all you need apart from your qualifications, which by the way are essential to a very large extent, is a range of skills that will make you flexible in your working patterns and enable you to change jobs or sectors once better opportunities arise. Employability skills could be a range of skills that are applicable in the workplace environment, but primarily, they are essential abilities that involve the development of a knowledge base, expertise level, and mindset that is increasingly necessary for success in the modern workplace.
Don’t get me wrong, your degrees and grades might make you very ‘eligible’ to apply for a particular job and probably help you get it. But times are changing; employers are now often looking for skills that go beyond qualifications and years of experience. They are looking for someone who can make critical decisions, and someone who can think on their feet and solve problems. They are looking for skills and competencies that you have developed through your education, training, work experience, interests and extra-curricular activities that make you flexible and effective enough to be an asset.
So, what are some of those employability skills that are necessary for you to have so that you can get and keep your job in any sector you desire to work in?
1.Critical Thinking Skills
Critical thinking skills will help you in your assertiveness, evaluating information, decision making, problem solving, and commercial awareness. When you can evaluate the information at your disposal, your mind will be opened to a variety of solutions, and then it will be easy for you to choose the most appropriate option based on the criteria and situation. Once an employer can determine that you are a critical and creative thinker, he is more likely to believe that you would be able to devise new ways of doing things that add value to the work environment, thereby making systems and procedures more efficient.
This is the main reason most employers conduct written and oral interviews, even before the final screening. Modern employers are constantly looking for people who communicate well, both verbally and in writing.
Some people do very well when the employer calls for written tests, but when the time comes for oral tests; they flunk it totally, because of something as little as good eye contact or inaccurate pronunciations. Communication skills are essential; if you need to learn, please do, if you need to improve on them, do as well. A lot of people that I know lost good job opportunities because they could not clearly pass their messages across. The importance of communication skills also increases rapidly when you have a job already. One thing your employer is sure to look for among other things when considering making someone a manager, is the ability to speak and write with clarity and conciseness.
3.General Knowledge Skills
I am not referring to highly specialized learning that can only be obtained with extensive training and information confined to a single medium. Rather, I’m talking about culturally valued knowledge communicated by a range of non- specialist media and encompassing a wide subject range.
A few years back, I nicked a job and an instant upgrade on the position I applied for because I was able to provide correct answers to security related questions and terms.
So, what am I saying? Keep your mind open to new experiences and try to know something about everything. You can never tell what your employer might be looking for.
Your employer wants to know how you participate as a member of a team, how efficiently you manage your time, how well you negotiate, how tactful and diplomatic you can be on the job, and how well you can build rapports and interact with other people to produce desired results for the organization and achieve a better working environment. Interpersonal skills include everything from communication and listening skills, to attitude and deportment. These tend to be prerequisites for many positions in an organization.
Presenting information clearly and effectively is one of the key skills employers are looking for and they are required in almost every modern employment area. Presenting information does not just include making formal presentations – information could be presented in the form of notes, reports, research findings, business plans, scenario planning, risk assessments and strategic documents.
Before going for an interview, learn how to use presentation packages like Microsoft PowerPoint, and improve on your report writing. This will help you a great deal in terms of your employability skills.
6. IT Skills
Acquiring basic IT skills, or just being familiar with using a computer may open up a wide range of employment opportunities and increase your employability and marketability in the workplace. You need to be familiar with at least some computer applications and know how to use them. Some basic computer knowledge like using Excel Sheet, PowerPoint, and Microsoft Word can go a long way. I was told that a lady was declined a job appointment at the final stage of an interview exercise because she could not sum figures using Microsoft Excel.
So, what are those skills you are lacking from the few mentioned above? Acquire them today, read a book, ask someone; just get them. Or do you have all and more? Hone in on them today and get better, so you can make yourself employable without stress.
About the author: Chris Bamidele is a passionate and unapologetic Nigerian, who believes in God and humanity. He is a writer, blogger, and an aspiring Television Director; and an optimist to the core. He blogs at www.chrisbamidele.wordpress.com and tweets @Chrisbamidele. He currently lives in Lagos.