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SKILLS THAT GIVE YOU AN EDGE IN THE JOB MARKET

13 October 2016
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In Nigeria, the unemployment rate currently stands at 13.3 percent.  The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) disclosed that about 4.58 million jobs were lost between June 2015 and June 2016, with the industrial sector bearing the largest chunk. The ripple effect is that the job market is saturated, with young job seekers jostling for employment or holding on to jobs they are overqualified or poorly paid for.

The situation may be dire, but applicants with rare skills will always stand a better chance of getting employment or enjoying job security while their peers struggle to play catchup. Here are some skills you may need to acquire quickly or build on in your quest for a respectable white-collar job:

 

MICROSOFT OFFICE TOOLS: This is arguably the most significant, yet often overlooked skill in the professional clime. It is no news that internal and external communications are premised on the proficient knowledge and use of Microsoft Office. Word, PowerPoint and Excel constitute the tripartite of formal communication (textual); hence the need to invest quality time in honing your knowledge and use of these applications. There is a good chance you would find a colleague willing to sacrifice their time to teach you how to use these tools, or you may be better off learning from YouTube videos (if you already have a job) or attending a computer class while job hunting.

 

FOREIGN LANGUAGES: Admit it. Sometimes you wish you could speak one or more foreign languages. If you’re a Nigerian, then you probably sometimes wish you were fluent in all three major native languages. However, while fluency in local languages may be a valuable asset in the professional clime, individuals with a high proficiency level in foreign languages (particularly French, Spanish & German) often stand a better chance of securing lucrative jobs than otherwise. To this end, you may either enroll in free online classes or channel part of your miscellaneous budget to nearby schools that teach foreign languages. Remember, being the only polyglot in your organisation could make you indispensable – provided you comply with the rules and regulations.

 

CREATIVE WRITING: In our thoughts, actions and words, we write every day. While some are born writers, others are creative thinkers. The ability to adequately transcribe thoughts into words and subsequently text, could be a prime determinant of how you would fare in the labour market. Start by reading short web articles and watching videos that spell out writing tips. These posts also reveal common grammatical errors and corresponding corrections. So, paying close attention to those tips could spur you on to become a better writer. Then again, you may wish to boost your writing skills by ensuring you communicate in formal English Language (text instead of shorthand) in all your social media posts. Start small and start well too.

 

ORAL COMMUNICATION: Not everybody has the gift of gab, but you would be doing yourself a great disservice by not learning the tenets of essential oral communication. Limit your use of pidgin English and native languages and focus on speaking plain English wherever you may find yourself. It’s a good way to start. Your choice of words, pronunciation and general communication would always stand you out in your profession. In addition, fluent use of English language automatically builds an enviable aura around you and this could be the distinct feature your employer would hold onto.

 

GRAPHICS/WEB DESIGN: Digitalisation has fostered the growth of business environments that communicate more with visuals than text. With a unique design or pictorial illustration, you could present an idea that would ordinarily consume several pages of bogus text. Your design may be as elementary as a PowerPoint template, email signature or even a one-page website/blog, but having presentable design skills could go a long way to prove your worth to your employer.

 

There are several other skills that will fast-track your quest for professional development, but starting off with these will take you places in record time. Don’t forget to share these ideas with your friends and colleagues and hear what they have to say.

 

  • Adesegun Damazio, Brands Advisor at Zenera Consulting.