A development consultant and human resource trainer who doubles as the Managing Partner of Ingenio Capital Ghana, Mary Bennett has urged young graduates and tertiary education students to leverage their strengths and marry them with the opportunities available to them.
She said this during a discussion with Normah Awuah, at the just ended Invest for jobs Career Fair X, held at the University of Professional Studies, Accra last Friday.
Sharing insights on the theme “Gaining a Competitive Edge, a young graduate’s mandate”, she explained that every individual has unique traits, and identifying them and making good use of them sets you apart from others.
“A competitive edge simply means what makes one stand out from the crowd and it all starts right from building a solid foundation. And the foundation of everything is always very crucial. Employers are looking for people who can help their businesses grow and that having the right attitude and potential gives you an added advantage”, she explained.
If you missed the opportunity to attend the career fair, here are 5 tips shared by the development consultant on how to gain a competitive advantage as a young graduate ready for the job market.
1. Know Your Field of Study and Develop a Passion for it
It is very important to identify with your field of study and develop a passion for it. There are students or better still graduates out there who wanted to study some particular programs at the tertiary level but did not get the opportunity. As a result, they don’t find it worth putting in the necessary effort to be able to get the best out of the courses they are doing or have done. The truth is, it is good to get what you want, but when that does not happen, it is not the end of life. You can equally develop an interest in whichever area you find yourself in. It takes self-commitment and determination to go the extra mile to do what your colleagues are not doing, and that is a great way of setting yourself apart from the crowd.
2. Develop Your Soft and Hard Skills through Online Courses
It is true that qualification is very important, but the value of your soft skills in the working world can not be overemphasized. Employers largely consider your skillset before they hire you because they want to see your ability to translate the acquired knowledge into solving practical problems. Today, there are loads of free online websites and platforms that you can use to build your soft skills. It is your skill that gives you the competitive edge over your counterparts and not necessarily your qualifications.
3. Build Your Experience through Internships & Volunteering Opportunities
One other most important thing that is very crucial in the world of work is experience. While knowledge can be obtained through learning, experiences are built through hands-on practice on the job. As a graduate or student, you need work experience to complement your qualifications which makes you a complete product for the job market. It is therefore important to do volunteer work or internships to help you gain valuable on-the-job experiences.
4. Leverage on Your Strengths and Align Them to Job Opportunities
Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, but as a graduate, what makes the difference is your ability to identify your strengths and optimize them. Always make sure you tailor your strengths to the job opportunity you are applying for.
5. Build a Standard Online Presence
Are you on social media? Which social media platform do you use most? And what do you use social media for? In recent times, employers turn to social media anytime they want to gather information on a potential employee or source for qualified candidates to fill their vacant roles. As much as you use social media to connect with friends, use it to your advantage. Network with professionals in your field and learn from them. One way to build your online brand as a young professional is to let your network know your capabilities by sharing your expertise and wins with your network.
Finally, always remember that the future of work requires that employees or professionals are ready for change and that you be hungry for knowledge. Learning does not stop after school. There is even more, to learn on the job.
Remember, “the heights by great men reached and kept were not attained by sudden flight, but they, while their companions slept, were toiling in the night”.
The career fair was a success and we say cheers to all the institutions who participated; including Vodafone Ghana, Mest Africa, Peg Africa, Zuberi, WaxPrint, Harley Reed Ghana, Wax Print Media, BIMA Ghana, Zuberi Ghana, among others.
This article is in partnership with Invest for Jobs, an initiative of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, and has partnered with Ghana’s number one online recruitment platform, Jobberman Ghana. This partnership is aimed at contributing to the special initiative’s objective of improving economic conditions in selected locations and industry sectors in Ghana, as well as promoting investment for jobs.