Why Your Academic Qualification is Not Enough

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Akindele Afolabi

Every job available has its own minimum general qualification that is required and you must have this to position yourself for getting the job. This does not give you any advantage over others, it only qualifies you to be in the general population of the number to be selected from. It is only a beginner and must not be a resting point or a bargaining power for you in your job search.
This general minimum qualification will help determine if you are qualified or not to be considered for the role to be filled. With this also, we would know if you are overqualified.
A fresh graduate has not gotten any advantage over another graduate simply because she is a graduate. She has only been privileged to be in the general number of job applicants. It is the possession of other attributes that gives her an advantage over the other graduate job seekers like her.
According to a World Bank report in 2004, there are about 100,000 graduates produced every year in Nigeria and only about 10% of this number is able to secure paid employment in the first one year after graduation. The distinguishing factor at this point is not the fact that you are a graduate but simply that you possess some other attributes that separate you from the others.
I have not seen it happened before where a serious minded and business focussed organisation would hire a candidate simply because he has graduated from a higher institution. This is because the presence or absence of other attributes has not been authenticated.
You need to understand the general minimum qualification that is required for your desired job and ask if you have it or not, and if not, how can you acquire it. Every job has a level and each level of job has its minimum general required qualification. For instance, a secondary school leaver would not apply for the job of a graduate because he is not in the number to be selected from. He is already disqualified. So also a fresh graduate applying for the job which minimum level of qualification is Master’s degree is most likely joking.
You must understand that your first degree does not give you an advantage over others; it only puts you in a pool. You must therefore work on other attributes to give you the leveraged you need to stand out among thousands or millions of others like you.
I am usually dazed when I interview or chat with fresh graduates. They are so excited with the fact that they are now graduates and they believe that alone qualifies them to earn a job that supposedly an employer owes them. How ridiculous! In a conversation with a fresh graduate, I asked a very simple question; why should you be considered for a role now? He was so proud to announce that he was a graduate and that he made a second class upper division. When I asked if that was all, the look on his face pre-empted his next question, what again? I told him that I would just clap my hands and I will get a thousand fresh graduates with minimum of a second class upper and that what would separate him from them. He got the point after that illustration.
My question to you now is what separates you from the whole number of job hunters that have the same minimum generic qualification with you?
This singular reason accounts for why you don’t get called up for interviews when you apply for jobs. There is no distinguishing factor to separate you from the lot. During an election period to elect the president; all the contestants have certain things in common. They are all citizens of the country whether by birth or naturalisation, but would anyone vote for any of them simply because he is a citizen of that country? If that is the only criteria for selection, then you would tick the names of all the contestants as your choice because they are all from the same country. By now you should know that while a generic qualification gives you the opportunity to be in the pool of potential candidate, it does not give you any advantage over the next potential candidate. It is however very important that you have this first.
You must realise also that you cannot afford to be lost in the pool, you must endeavour to stand out. Give yourself an edge over others that have the same minimum qualification with you. Never ever allow yourself to be lost in the crowd. Always do better than the others so that you can quickly be noticed. Your packaging of yourself must be different from others and must stand you out. You must devise your own professional way of communicating your value proposition to your potential employer. This will reflect in such tools like your resume. A poorly prepared resume will disqualify you from being shortlisted to a point where your other attributes can be assessed and once you miss this opportunity, you will continue to enjoy with the rest of the lot.
General qualification are usually assessed in your absence, you therefore need to push forward a good communication technique so that when you are not there, you are still clearly communicating value.

Key Points
• Always ask yourself what the general minimum qualification for any job you are searching for is.
• Understand that this does not give you an advantage over other candidates in the pool.
• Make sure that you are not lost in the crowd of the pool of candidates.
• Remember that your general minimum qualification is assessed when you are not present; hence have a good communication plan.
Akindele Afolabi is a Career Management Consultant with Career Edge Limited. He helps organisations and individuals to take ownership of their career management initiatives.

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