by Jeremiah Buabeng
We live in the age of competition. There is competition in every space. If you want to go to the best school, you have to compete for it. In 2018, only 13,117 of the 31,345 applicants who applied to the University of Ghana gained admission. Of those admitted, those who graduate still have to compete for jobs. Those who decide to start their own business won’t escape the competition. There is even more competition in the entrepreneurial space.
If you decide that God has called you into ministry so you want to found a church or even a branch of an existing church, there will be competition. Church business has become one of the most competitive industries today. It is reported that people attend about 7 churches in their lifetime, so your church may be the fourth one they come to. They are going to leave you soon to another church. Competition is rife.
The competition for jobs is even more intense. When we advertised a vacancy in our business two weeks ago, within 72 hours there were over 70 applicants. In a week, we had received almost 150 applications- 150 applications for just 2 available vacancies. But that’s not even scary. When one of my friends advertised a Personal Assistant role, she was inundated with 207 applications within 24 hours- 207 competitors for just 1 available vacancy.
Besides the small number of available jobs, the competition for jobs has been further intensified by new media and globalization. Facilitated by the internet, people apply for jobs from different parts of the world. On two or three different occasions, we have advertised jobs and have received applications from India, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nigeria. So now, our jobs in Ghana are under siege from foreigners.
In the face of this ferocious competition, students and graduates need to position themselves differently in order to beat the competition and get jobs. A research on unemployment by ISSER reports that a major reason for graduate unemployment is the lack of employable skills. There are available jobs and many graduates who are unqualified for them. It is almost a cliché to hear employers bemoaning the poor quality of skills of many of our graduates.
But this error can be corrected. It is possible for students and/or graduates to adequately prepare themselves, acquire skills and beat the intense competition for jobs out there. Here are are 4 tips for every student or graduate:
- Attend Seminars
It is not enough to attend lectures, pass exams and graduate with a First class or Second class. Attend seminars. When you attend such seminars, you hear quality and enlightening information that will provoke you to position yourself differently. Attending seminars help you gain exposure and broaden your horizon. Career and personal development seminars help bridge the yawning gap between academia and industry. You get access to eye-opening information about what’s happening in the world of work. You will hear what your lecturer will not say in the classroom and it will enable you to prepare yourself for the jungle out there and beat the competition.
2. Enroll In Internships
Students don’t want internships. They need internships! I believe every student must do at least three internships before they graduate. Actually, I believe internships should start from secondary school or even junior high school if possible. We should start preparing our young people for the real world early. There is power in starting early. Internships provide pilot work experience and exposure to the world of work and how it operates. They help you acquire basic professional skills, workplace experience and etiquette. Internship helps you understand what it means to have a job, perform at it and meet expectations.
If you have already graduated but you don’t have a job, you should enroll in a graduate internship programme. You are better off volunteering to do an internship with a company than staying at home doing nothing. You may not get paid. But if you really make a difference there, you may get hired or recommended to another employer. On three occasions we have hired people who joined us for internships and had no expectation of being hired after. If you don’t get that opportunity, you will still acquire skills and experience. It’s better than staying at home doing nothing.
3. Participate in Extra-Curricular Activities
Another major platform for developing skills and gaining exposure is participating in extracurricular activities. Joining a club or association and taking a leadership role is a fantastic way to grow yourself, increase your confidence and practice your skills. Serving in the SRC, campus church or marketing students association can help you harness important professional skills that is required for success in the world of work. You may learn how to lead, how to speak in public, how to write letters, reports and proposals, how to organize, how to sell products or ideas, how to coordinate teams and get along with others, how to develop concepts and ideas and so many other skills. Both students and fresh graduates can take advantage of these opportunities on their campuses and communities to develop themselves. Don’t be obsessed with getting good grades at the expense of good exposure and training.
Closely related to internships and extra-curricular activities is volunteering. Volunteering offers many skill-development, confidence-building, exposure-gaining and networking opportunities. Volunteering to be part of projects, event organizing teams and other activities offer immense benefits similar to those extra-curricular activities and internships offer. You get to meet new people from various cultures, with different world views and temperaments. You get to network with people who have the potential of recommending you for future opportunities.
If you dabble in the above and maximize them, you are more likely to be well-rounded and prepared for the job market. Like arrows, you will have skills in your quiver to shoot at your career targets. You will become like a sharpened sword, ready to take on the world and slay giants. Go out there and beat the competition.
Jeremiah Buabeng is an entrepreneur, consultant, trainer, professional speaker, and author. He has trained and/or addressed organizations including Databank, Olam Ghana, Accra City Hotel (Novotel), Vaniado, The Lesedi Foundation, Axis Suites, Oasis Montessori, Healthstar Group, Lekma Polyclinic, and many more. Jeremiah is a regular resource person at conferences, churches, universities, radio, and television programmes. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.