In my years recruiting for organisations, I have come across numerous candidates and clients, looking for each other but not willing to accept each other.
Stay with me here.
Three years ago, a client approached me to hire a Human Resources Manager for his SME, an I.T company with over 100 employees, with 75 percent semi-skilled field workers. He had a very good strategy for the business and needed someone who could effectively drive talent management and development due to the high turnover rate of his employees. He had also had issues with the employee labour union and was struggling with employee satisfaction. He was quite clear on his preference, he wanted someone who had schooled abroad. He believed that he needed someone with foreign exposure to help create a foreign organisation structure and culture due to the caliber of high end clients he had and his vision for the company to be a global brand.
Hmmmm, his reasons were legitimate, but I completely disagreed that the only people who could deliver on that job were those who had foreign education. Infact, I believed he needed someone with the ‘Naija’ mentality that could get his/her hands dirty and interact with the low level and high level employees, drive employee retention strategies to suit the different kinds of staff the company had which would invariably lead to excellent service delivery.
He needed a candidate who was very driven, a self-starter, could effectively lead people and be a business partner to his organisation and not just a HR Manager.
I knew his exact candidate. Seun.
Seun attended a federal university, graduated with a second class lower, and had worked with various SMEs and government parastatals. He had worked in structured and unstructured companies and had managed both high level and low level employees from artisans, to drivers, to facility personnel and c-suite managers. Seun did not have a masters degree and did not school abroad, but Seun was hands-on, very down to earth and humble, understood the Nigerian work environment and could interact with labor unions. Seun was perfect for the job.
I sincerely believe that we have competent and qualified people for whatever vacant job there is. We just need more patient employers and more deliberate candidates.
Building a successful career does not always mean you have to go to the best school, graduate with the best grade, study the best course and work with the ‘big’ companies.
Same way having the right staff does not always mean you need to hire an ‘A’ student who went to the top school and studied the right course.
Sometimes, the employee or the job we desire, can be found in shadowy offers/opportunities that await illumination.
I advise you dear employers, when hiring, focus on character, skill, expertise and experience. Look for a candidate that can work with your organisation at its present state and can grow with it. Foreign education is great but not a determining factor to the capacity of the employee.
And for candidates, do not look down on the current small businesses seeking to hire you. Take advantage of every opportunity presented to you no matter how bleak it looks and use it as a stepping stone to your career. Stay focused on what your vision is and maximize the opportunities that come shaped in ‘sme’s’ or ‘one-man businesses’.