BECOMING A FIRST CLASS EMPLOYEE
There is this claim that there is incidence of unemployment in our society; yet many business owners and corporate leaders keep saying that they lack the human resources needed to drive their business vision. This got me thinking seriously; wondering what is the hope of young men and women who need job in our country. In the course of my obserevation, meditation and reflection on this issue, it occurred to me that there are actually limited job opportunities for our teeming population; yet business owners want value for their money. So, how can a young man get a job? My answer: being a first class employee!
But who is a first class employee? First class employee is different from a first class graduate in that the latter has excellent academic records but the former has the best combination of workplace requirement in his desired place of work. Being a first class graduate does not automatically translate to being a first class employee. A first class graduate, just like a third class graduate needs to work on him or herself to become a first class employee.
My focus in this article is to show you how to become a first class employee. A first class employee, in my opinion, is one who has the skills, knowledge, experience and attitude that is required for his job and put them together to deliver value to his employer.
Ascertain what your potential employee wants from you
A step towards being a first class employee is ascertaining what your potential employer wants in terms of skill, knowledge, attitude and experience. You can discover this by looking at job description of the job you are eyeing. Another way is to closely observe key players in the industry you want to go into talk about what makes for success in the industry and offer advice to people aspiring to toe their path. You can easily find this in their interviews, articles and books. For me personally, I don’t mind buying a N200 newspaper if I see anybody media person interviewed in it; since that’s the direction I am headed. Moreover, I go online searching for articles by and on them just to distil what makes for success in the industry.
Acquire relevant knowledge
The next step is acquisition of relevant knowledge. If you must go to school, do so. But if can learn what you need by personal study, go get materials and sit down to study. When you have to study at home, examine yourself by setting questions for yourself or collecting past questions for yourself from those that go to school and attempt answering them. More important that just answering questions correctly is applying what you have leant in practical life situation. This entails working for free and doing job for very small charge.
Veteran journalist, biographer and publisher, Dimgba Igwe, when he was yet to get a job as journalist, studied the section of the paper he wanted to write for and wrote a feature story for them. When the editor of the paper, Dele Giwa, saw his work, he gave an order to fetch him in 24 hours time. That was because Giwa saw first class employee in him and rushed for him. That will become your portion when you take relevant steps to become a first class employee.
Acquired relevant skills
Another step you take towards being a first class employee is acquisition of relevant skills. It could involve observing or, better still, working with people who are in the industry you want to go into and taking advantage of any opportunity they give you to practice. This helps you acquire relevant skills you need.
Beyond the skills that are required for your core job, acquire what I call ancillary skills like communication skill, public speaking skill, leadership skill and management skill. They will distinguish you among the teaming population of youths eyeing your dream job. Notice that I did not say you should attend any certificate awarding event; go, learn and acquire skills. If it costs you money, pay happily because you are actually sowing into your future.
Cultivate the right attitude
Some people call attitude spirit. Whatever you call it, the underlying truth is that it refers to a person’s drive or motivation. You must have identified the right attitude required for success in your industry by listening to practitioners. Take steps at cultivating those attitudes. Please don’t pretend to have it; work on yourself until it flows out naturally. Passion and commitment to be successful in that work together having the right values will make the acquisation of the attitude easier. Note that there are general workplace attitude which you could learn from workplace and peak performance couches.
I started reading Businessday, Tuesday edition in my second year on campus knowing that at graduation from the university, I will work in a company. The section I read religiously is called Work and Learning where they have a full page feature story on work place lifestyle and issues and on the next page featuring four columnist couching workers and employees. I learnt many important attitudes to work from them and because I absorbed them, I live them out without stress.
Acquire Work Experience
This can be acquired by offering work even for meager salary. Don’t neglect them; they will do you a lot of good in making you a first class employee. It’s unfortunate that many people neglect it claiming that they are being used. Don’t join them. You are not being used; you are given opportunity to develop confidence in your ability and get a better understanding of your dream job. Note that you can discover the benefit of being used in an article I wrote earlier, entitled, “They Are Using You.”
Adekunbi Adeoye, Founder of Sesewa Support Service understood this when she went about looking for a place to get work experience as a student on campsu. She got one after many rejections but was not paid a dime. She testified in an interview, “I got a job with a small business which entailed working in the marketing department. Although I was not a paid a dime, I found it thrilling because I learnt a lot new things and skills.” She further testified, “Three things then happened to me after the internship – my networking abilities improved I could talk in public, improved my writing skills and as well as my Microsoft office knowledge.” Guess what? He eventually did not go looking for job but started her own social enterprise on graduation based on a need she discovered trying to get workplace experience.
Note that your work experience must not be in a business setting like Adekumbi. Mine has been in NGOs and religious settings. It was when I published the second magazine for campus fellowship I belong that I gained confidence in my ability to put together content that people will want to read and every opportunity I have been given to work earned me experience a lesson for work and business. It was a platform to put to practice what I have read and personal theories I have propounded about publishing. That is why I am eternally grateful to Student Christian Movement (SCM) and Joint Christian Body (JCB), UNN.
My idea of marketing broadened when I took a job in marketing company once. I was paid just enough for my feeding but it opened my eyes and made me realize that there are a lot differences between real Nigeria environment and what marketing pundits like Philip Kotler are writing.
You can become a first class employee! Define where you want to work in; search for where you can find advice from key players in the industry you are going into; write down the steps you will take from now and when to take them and get to work in taking those steps.
All the best!!!