In this era of so much unemployment, national service is that golden opportunity that if well-taken advantage of, you may end up with a job just after the one-year compulsory service.
Getting retained after national service is not rocket science or is it limited to only a selected few. Neither is a desperation game where you run your fellow work colleagues down so that you can become the favorite of your bosses.
Getting retained after service can become your reality too if you position yourself well and are willing to put in the work. When you play your cards well and put on the best behaviour in whichever organization you are posted to, you may get retained or get a good recommendation that can get you a job after your service.
Getting a job immediately after your national service implies that you would not have to go through the period of frustration waiting in the house while looking for a job and still dependent on your parents.
This is why you must endeavor to approach your national service with all the seriousness you can, and not take things for granted.
Here are a couple of strategies and things you can do to ensure that you get hired after your national service.
1. Accept and embrace your service posting: While some service personnel may be fortunate to get posted to companies and sectors of their choices, others are not so lucky to have this. However, whether you get a company of your choice or not making the most of your national service experience and eventually getting retained depends largely on you. If you happen to be part of the group that did not get posted to a company or sector of your choice you can still build a good reputatation and a name for yourself in the organization you get to work in. Let go of every bitterness, embrace your job assignment and give it your best effort and energy, because the experience or recommendation from this job may come in handy some day. And after all, it’s just one year and you can always change organization if your national service is over.
2. Acquaint and acclimatize yourself with the company: Not every nitty gritty detail about the organization would be mentioned during orientation. And most of the things about the organization you get posted to you learn on the job. So you’ll have to do a lot of observation, asking questions and listening to get to know and understand what are the core values, the dos and don’ts of the organization. When you do this you are unlikely to find yourself in a situation where you commit avoidable blunders due to the ignorance of some of the acceptable practices of the company. Asked for clarifications whenever you have doubts and don’t feel ashamed that you don’t know something.
3. Be resourceful: While many usually approach national service with the attitude of slacking and unseriousness on the job with the excuse that the pay is not good. You can actually distinguish yourself by being resourceful, like becoming the IT personnel of the company if there is none. Always thinking in terms of solutions, finding alternative ways of doing things, thinking creatively, and finding something useful to do with your free time. Thus, you free time should not be spent on facebook, whatsapp or other social media. Be the person thinking about how to solve problems, how to optimally use the resources you are given.
4. Demonstrate a sense of responsibility: An employee who accepts responsibility for his\her actions and inactions is who every employer would like to work with. It is not uncommon for some national service personnel to feel that they are doing the organization they are posted to a favor. But you have to demonstrate a sense of responsibility during your national service, you don’t always have to wait to be told what to do. Be the service personnel that your boss will find already working on projects (things) he plans to talk to you about.
5. Be Punctual: Punctuality says a lot about you than you can imagine, it signals your employers as to whether you mean business or not. Arriving at work on time, meeting work deadlines, and being at the right place at the right time. Don’t be the one that is always giving excuses for being late, missing work deadlines or missing work.
6. Have an open mind and be willing to learn: Here the class you graduated with wherther a first-class, a second class or lower doesn’t really matter. And no one cares to know whether you were the best or last in your class. All your bosses and colleagues cares about is whether you can do the job you have being assigned to. So just humble yourself to learn how thing are done in the organization, and be open to new way of doing things. Because the truth is that what you’ve been taught in the lecture hall is mostly different from what is done on the ground (companies). Allow yourself to learn so that you can be able to meaningfully contribute to the company and give reason to your employers to want to retain you after national service.
7. Provide more service that you get paid for: In addition to your major work responsibility, there are other menial works like cleaning, running errands, printing and running photocopies that your other colleagues may not be willing to do. But this is the avenue where you can become indispensable, and one of the ways you can distinguish yourself. Always be willing to go the extra mile on your work duties, cover-up for others in their absence and don’t be too money conscious.
8. Be proactive and an Initiator: As a new bee in that organization, you can identify some gaps in the organizations and work on filling them up. It could be the organization does not have an online presence in the from of a website or a social media presence. You can take this as a project to create and manage a social media account for this entity either a Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram based on which one works well with the services the organization renders. This act may result in an increase in the customer base of the company and you may just have gotten yourself retained in this organization.
9. Build relationships: The first step to build a healthy and meaningful relationship as a national service personnel is first of all understand and accept your role as a service personal, because this position is not the same as someone who is permanently employed at that organization. After having the clarity on this, then you maintain a positive attitude towards your work collegues and avoid getting involved in to office gossips and politics.
Be professional as much as you can and as possible whenever you’re within the confines of your work premises. Building relationships does not necessarily mean you become friends with everyone, but identify colleagues and bosses who’s values align with yours and work on fostering a relationship with them. Because this relationships may go along way to help you in the now and the future. I personally got the opportunity to work on a USAID CHIPS compound project because the person in charge of was my mentor.
In a nut shell, national service can serve as the express road you take to the job market with less stress and hustle it has worked for many and it can work for you too. I know friends who got retained at banks (eg. Prudential Banks, Access Bank, and Unibank among others), becameme secondary school teachers, some even got scholarships to do their masters after serving as Teachings assistants at KNUST of which I am a beneficiary.
So make the most out of your national service that at the end you wouldn’t say I wish I had done things differently.