There's nothing as humbling as getting a call from someone younger than you, who happens to be in their final year of Legon, and is also a good friend-acquaintance.
So you can imagine how humbled I was when two days ago, I got a call just from a young lady whom I've known since 2005 (and which sister is a good friend of the organisation) to ask me these some questions on entering the job market.
Let me be clear: anyone who has a job in these uncertain times is this side short of lucky. No matter how drab or dull it is, count yourself lucky you're not with the bunch in the West that were laid off in the factories and whatnot. It's great to be alive and with a job!
While we are patting ourselves on the back that we've been able to hold down a job, we forget so easily how difficult it was when we were looking for employment, don't we? Speaking to my friend gave me an insight into some of the challenges out there in the Ghanaian job market, but I think I can impart a few tips.
1. Learn French
2. Build your IT/communication skills
3. Be passionate about your career
4. Think Big!
5. Get a Masters
So you want a job in an English-speaking country that's surrounded by francophone countries? Come on now, learn that French language. We have Alliance Francaise among many other organisations that can offer the language. If you think you cannot cope with how much they charge, find a private tutor. It also pays as failing to get a job in Ghana doesn't mean you cannot get it anywhere else! With French, you're most likely to get a position in the sub-region of ECOWAS, the AU, or who knows, the UN?
Build your IT/communication skills
So you know how to type, but can you touch-type? Working through Microsoft Office is average, but can you do desktop publishing in Word? How about Excel? and Microsoft Access? Try and master a package that will pit you above the others. You might want to do a Marketing/public relations course at the Ghana Institute of Journalism, or the African University College of Communications. It pays to communicate/articulate well wherever you go!
Be passionate about your career
Whether it's the public or private sector--in this country or outside--it's important to be passionate about what your career. No-one can miss passion. Live, breathe, speak human resource management; communication; administration; marketing; banking; law.
Make sure you reek it, so that it's without doubt that YOU are the one to come to on the latest trends.
Let me just say that though I have my bosses who have been working on regional integration, for a longer period than I have, my focus has been more than looking at African integration initiatives; I look at world-wide trends, plus keep up to date on the latest literature. Whenever anyone mentions regional integration, people know they'll get a word or two from me--despite my apparent/relative lack of years spent imbibing it (as compared to my other colleagues).
Why should you only settle for the Ghanaian market? If you've come this far, why not consider working for an international public organisation like the United Nations/African Union/ECOWAS? Sure, it's competitive, but on the African market, the possibilities of going higher than the national are greater. Think big!
Get a Masters
If you haven't gotten one already, it pays to get one. There are people with first degrees and plenty experience -- with sound working experiences, but possessing a Masters means you've taken a step to improve yourself, and therefore are capable of any challenge that comes your way. I will always remember my Dad who pushed me to do one. Now, the deepening of my knowledge on regional integration is more than I could ever imagined, because I'm more than confident of pushing the envelope on my abilities.
This list is far from exhaustive, but I'd like to end that yesterday I coincidentally heard a programme on Joy FM about job-hunting which suggested these short tips:
1. be friendly to the receptionist of any prospective workplace
2. never tell any employee to whom you are passing your CV that you're looking for a job; insist that it's "an important document" that needs to go to the director, or HRO!