This guest post was contributed to TechCabal by Amanda Madumere.
On a blustery July morning, dozens of recruiters from 27 companies chat with more than 80 candidates seated at tables in a conference room at Landmark Towers in Lagos, Nigeria. The occasion is a job fair.
The job application process is often an intimidating process for job seekers. Many employers have come to rely heavily on the ATS to administer their hiring process, which has crippled job seekers by racing against algorithms, in addition to other existing stressors in the job readiness process.
This job fair at Landmark simplifies the daunting application process by directly connecting quality talent with recruiters and, in turn, flipping the algorithm.
“These companies are ready to listen to me. I have quality conversations about my passion, and for the first time, I feel heard,” says Rachel Magaji, recalling a conversation she just had with a recruiter about her work as a product designer, her background in environmental management, and his aspiration to solve real-world problems through design and the discovery of new materials.
The job fair was organized by the Premia Business Network (PBN), a community of entrepreneurs, investors and professionals building a business network in Africa and its diaspora, and the University Alumni Network Nigerian Institute of Technology and Management (NUTM).
The World Bank, in its Nigerian Economic Update for the fourth quarter of 2019, predicted that the number of job seekers in Nigeria will continue to rise as long as population growth outpaces economic development. According to a report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in the first quarter of 2021, the unemployment rate in Nigeria rose from 27.1% to 33% in the second quarter of 2020.
In addition to ranking second in the global unemployment index, the BNS findings indicate that in the fourth quarter, the unemployment rate for people aged 15 to 24 was 53.4%, compared to was 37.2% for people aged 25. and 34, the country having recorded an average increase of 0.07% in the unemployment rate since 2017.
These statistics are grim, but Chisom Amadi, chair of the job fair’s planning committee, believes it’s possible the ship could still be steered in the right direction for better results.
“It was a tedious but rewarding few weeks before the event,” Amadi says, “but I’m glad recruiters and candidates found value.”
Amadi wears three hats as she is a member of the NUTM Alumni Network, PBN and the job fair organizing committee. The team had spent days before the event vetting candidates, providing resume optimization tips, conducting candidate debriefings, marking boards, setting up virtual channels and lead volunteers. Their hard work didn’t stop there, as they also made on-the-spot referrals and recommendations at the job fair as efficiently as a well-oiled machine.
The committee takes a simple approach by looking at talent and providing them with some of the resources they need to thrive now as job seekers and, later, as employees. They shift the focus from hard skills to soft, transferable skills. Candidates are given guidance on how to showcase their personal branding skills, are encouraged to demonstrate leadership in the workplace, and embody a dash of self-improvement about them.
“What most companies do is walk through the door of tactics and forget behavior,” says Juliet Funt, CEO of WhiteSpace at Work, emphasizing the equal importance of soft skills. WhiteSpace at Work is a training and consulting company that helps leaders and employees of organizations to overthrow the norms of the business world in order to regain their creativity, productivity and commitment.
The Career Fair Planning Committee recognizes the importance of behavioral and soft skills in the workplace, having themselves – alongside other former Career Fair attendees – completed the immersive program and complete with NUTM. The committee decided to bridge the gap between talent and recruiters by creating a talent pool and equipping candidates with important soft skills that give them a competitive edge in interviews and in the workplace.
“I’m really delighted that the job fair was a huge success in every way,” said Bola Lawal, the founder and organizer of PBN.
As an entrepreneur and community builder, Lawal strongly believes in using a community-based approach to problem solving. “We have a big talent problem in Nigeria where there is a big mismatch between the talent available and the jobs that employers are looking to fill.” With the job fair, the planning committee was able to create a bridge between the best employers in the PBN community and the quality candidates of the NUTM network. He says this is the model they hope to further explore and replicate with subsequent editions of the fair.
“The number one thing I liked about the job fair was the organization,” says Maxwell Ogunfuyi, co-founder and CTO of Scholar X. “I like that candidate resumes are shared in advance , so I already knew what candidates to look out for.” Ogunfuyi says he was particularly looking for a software engineer for his startup’s flagship product, LearnAm. He says the contestants did not disappoint as the quality of the contestants present was top notch.
The full disclosure approach has been beneficial for candidates as well as recruiters. As recruiters received candidates’ CVs in advance, candidates also received profiles of recruitment companies and details of positions available within these companies.
“One thing I liked about the job fair was that I was able to know in advance what positions companies wanted to hire for,” says Toheeb Ojuolape, full-stack software engineer and designer. . He believes that having the company profiles beforehand gave him an advantage as he was able to get a complete picture of organizational needs and highlight his skills based on their relevance to each organization.
Since the show, Ojuolape has received offers from companies making what he thinks are amazing products.
If there is to be a collective impact given the current negative employment trends in Nigeria, young people need to understand how to connect – and connect quickly – in this rapidly changing globalized world.
Impact, at the organizing committee of the job fair, it is the candidates who succeed and evolve in their roles. “Being able to connect these empowered, solution-focused people to quality jobs is rewarding,” says Amadi, as she talks about the satisfaction she feels at having facilitated a talent match for a pharmacist who would eventually move on. to thrive as a pharmaceutical supply. chain specialist. Looking to the future, she says, “We are looking at a graduation school for Nigerian talent.”