Job hunting could be crazy! From one application to the next, it’s hard to keep up. Sayo Alao, a Senior Recruiter shares her secret to bagging job interviews.
It doesn't matter whether you're pursuing an entry-level position or changing companies after decades in the workforce — job hunting is hard. The job market is constantly evolving, significantly since the advent of the pandemic; recruiters have changed their tune, and it’s up to you as a jobseeker to keep up with the beat.
Job hunting is a job on its own, and it requires its own unique “go-to-market strategy.” We had an insightful chat with Sayo Alao, a senior recruiter at Career Buddy, one of Nigeria’s top job platforms. In this interview, Sayo shared some critical secrets to kicking off your career and landing job interviews and the job of your dreams.
What was your personal experience with getting your first job, considering how hard that is in the Nigerian labor market?
Getting my first job was not your typical Nigerian way of getting jobs. After my NYSC in 2019, like everyone else, I applied and attended various interesting interviews that led nowhere. After three months of job searching, I took a hiatus as advised by my friend; he was also working on a fintech product at the time with a couple of other guys. They had a small workspace they worked from and asked me to help structure their process.
They would have meetings at workstations, spend time coding and discussing plans to build something better. My friend was one of them, and he reached out to me knowing that I was looking to break into the recruitment industry even though I studied Finance and asked me to join them. He said to me, “We don’t have much; we’re just a couple of guys trying to run this thing; why don’t you come to assist us with non-technical activities?” And that’s how I landed my first gig.
Has the pandemic affected your role and recruitment strategies?
Nobody was prepared for the pandemic. Companies experienced so many changes, and there were a lot of layoffs; the role of a recruiter was a bit stalled because companies were not hiring. As human nature demands, we adapted to the situation and have discovered new ways of doing things—the traditional way of sourcing candidates changed, the interviewing process changed, and the recruiting criteria changed.
I would say that the acceptance of technology into many businesses was the most significant advantage of the pandemic. Before then, nobody thought about using Zoom for meetings, interviews etc. We all realized that we could get a lot done virtually, yielding the same results. The pandemic opened up Nigeria to more foreign opportunities; remote working has been globally embraced; companies from all parts of the world have realized and want to tap into Nigeria's talent market.
The Nigerian market has opened up to a broader space, which is why we had to re-strategize. If recruiters from different parts of the world are now competing for our talents, it meant we had to match up and even surpass their recruitment strategies.
How can job seekers adapt to these new recruitment strategies and get invited for job interviews?
As much as candidates try their best to get the proper education and experience for their dream job, they sometimes forget to keep up with the recruitment trends; there’s something new every day.
Carry out in-depth research and keep up with recruitment trends- Find out how companies you are applying for are recruiting
Network - Connect with recruiters and employees of companies you want to work with. Do not be afraid to shoot your shot; send them a message and gather insights that will position you for success.
Upskilling - It’s essential to reskill and upskill because employers are constantly looking for more. If you go through job applications, try and note down skills that are required and take a step further to acquire those skills, this will place you in a better position when applying for these jobs.
- Don’t jump the gun - Refrain from applying for jobs you know you’re not in any way qualified for; this sets you up for failure and disappointments.
In your experience, what are the most common mistakes job seekers make when applying for jobs?
The most common mistakes job seekers make are:-
Applying for a role you’re not qualified for at all.
Applying for jobs with a generic CV and cover letter - You must tailor your Cv and cover letter to fit every job you’re applying for. Generic CVs no longer cut it.
Showing up for job interviews unprepared - Job seekers get excited about job interviews and forget to prepare for them.
What are the top red flags a recruiter might look out for?
Recruiters are everywhere, not just Linkedin. Like everyone else, we can decide to reach out to anyone for an opportunity on any social platform. Social sourcing is an effective form of recruiting, and you might just miss out if you don’t market yourself properly. So red flags for me are -
Discrepancies in your career profile/CV - What’s the truth and the lie? Your career history must speak the same truth across all platforms.
Unquantifiable accomplishments - No hiring manager will ask you about your key achievements without expecting to hear some kind of measurable metrics. Use percentages, numbers and ranges.
Applying for a job you’re not qualified for - Just don’t! lol
Inconsistent career path - This can be tricky because it’s not a crime for people to grow and explore, but it just seems off if there are too many inconsistencies.
Generic CVs, cover letters or career profiles - The generic use of words on a job application doesn’t give you the originality recruiters need. We want to hear what you have to say, not google or whoever you copied it from lol.
What are your top job search tips for job seekers trying to navigate the Nigerian labor market?
A friend had reached out to me recently to share tips for getting a job, she’s currently job searching, and it hasn’t been an easy one. The first thing I told her was, “Relax!” and that’s the first thing I'll say to any job seeker. Entering into the job hunt race with panic or impatience will result in a lot of wasted effort.
Secondly, understand yourself. You need to be self-aware and be honest with yourself. What do you want to do? What career path do you want to take? What skills do you have?
Thirdly, plan. Job hunting is a process; research into companies you want to work with, decide what career path you want, and then identify valuable skills you need to acquire.
Lastly, review your documents. Ensure your CV and cover letter are standard and are acceptable. If you don’t think your CV writing skills are great, get help. Some professionals can help you craft interview-winning CVs and cover letters. Do your best to customize your CV for each role and company you’re applying to; this helps you cut through the crowd and gets you right in front of the recruiter.
Enter every interview with your facts and a lot of confidence. Network regularly and market yourself for every opportunity you get.
Any CV and cover letter writing tips to help position job seekers for success?
For cover letters: -
It shouldn’t be more than one page.
Information in your cover letter must align with your CV
Include only accurate details
Ensure it’s concise and easy to read
For your CV: -
It shouldn’t be more than two pages.
Give pointers, not a breakdown of day to day activities
Ensure your fonts are legible and bold. Do not use italics.
Use the correct font colours to avoid strong contrast.
Avoid having too many lines and unnecessary spacing.
Use keywords relevant to your field
Include and quantify your accomplishments.
Avoid unnecessary information like tribe, age, gender, nationality, etc. Nobody wants to see that.
Are there openings for those looking for opportunities to intern, freelance, or even work full-time in your company?
Yes! Most definitely. We are currently even getting some interns; this is part of our 2022 initiatives, a program for fresh graduates looking to break into the HR industry. We are always on the lookout for the best talents at Career Buddy.
Learning to get the job you want often feels like a full-time job itself, but the results will be worth the effort. By laying the groundwork as you go, you’ll be preparing for job interviews coming your way and gearing up to hear those two magic words - You’re hired!