03 Nov How to Bootstrap Your Career According to Tucci Goka Ivowi
The State of Global Workplace survey by Gallup found that ONLY 19% of Ghanaian workers that were reviewed felt engaged. A majority of the respondents, 68%, felt not engaged. Not engaged in this context, they said, is that “employees are psychologically unattached to their work and company. Because their engagement needs are not being fully met, they’re putting time — but not energy or passion — into their work.”
Further, 12% of surveyed employees are actively disengaged. That means, “employees aren’t just unhappy at work — they are resentful that their needs aren’t being met and are acting out their unhappiness. Every day, these workers potentially undermine what their engaged coworkers accomplish.”
Hence, we hosted this edition of #SFANLiveChat with a focus on how to bootstrap your career. Our guest, Tucci Goka Ivowi, Deputy CEO and Founding Member of Ghana Commodity Exchange, shared many useful tips and strategies with the chat followers. Below are some key takeaways on job search, skills development, leadership, finding your passion and so on.
Getting your foot in the door
When it comes to youth unemployment in Ghana, the numbers are well-known. According to the Institute of Statistics, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), only 10% of all graduates in Ghana are absorbed into the industry within one year of graduation.
On a continental level, the picture is not much different. Despite an incredible number of young people currently coming of age across the continent, education to employment pipeline is scarcely available in many countries. Consequently, almost 50% of the continent’s university graduates leave school without jobs. Regardless of industry.
So, how do you beat the odds to bootstrap your career?
“Volunteer! I’ve personally hired 20+ people who have come into companies I’ve worked in as volunteers,” Tucci says. “Once you show your value, you have a good chance of being hired. If you don’t get hired, you get work experience which helps you in the next job application.”
This advice is not for entry-level job seekers alone. Even if you’re looking to re-enter the workforce, this can apply to you as well.
Les Brown once told a beautiful story of two men that lost their jobs to a weak economy. After several weeks of searching for new job opportunities to no avail, one man became depressed and gave up. But, the other man kept on searching despite many rejections. At a point, he decided to volunteer for free. Even though he was a volunteer, he worked as hard as the best employee in the company. A few weeks later, one of the senior managers resigned. Guess what, he was the best option to fill the position!
The moral of the story? It’s not enough to get your foot in the door by volunteering. Ensure you do the work. “As a volunteer, work as though you’re one of the highest-paid employees in the company,” Tucci says.
Skills early-career professionals should focus on developing
Almost everyone knows that we live in a time of information overload. The ongoing demonetization in technology continues to drive down the cost of accessing information. Surprisingly, the value of information keeps going up – making it imperative to learn how to learn.
For example, if you Google skills development right now, you will receive about 1,430,000,000 results in 0.61 seconds or less. Choosing what to learn, therefore, becomes the problem. This is the cause of decision fatigue.
Thankfully, we have experts like Ivowi to guide us in choosing essential cross-functional skills that have going concern.
“Communication is the first. It’s difficult to get noticed if you are not a good communicator,” Tucci says. “The second is networking: Some of the best help you will get is career advice from more experienced people. And introductions!”
“If you want to create a massive impact, you need to overcome old habits and begin to view human capital as an abundant resource. From there, curate a strong and passionate team to support you and act as your WHOs.”– Peter Diamandis
The third cross-functional skill for early-career professionals to master, Tucci says, is Project Management. “Most job tasks revolve around project management. If you’re good at this discipline, you have a good chance of succeeding in most non-specialist roles.”
By all means, know your computer design, systems analysis, and so on. But if you lack these skills – communication, networking, project management – those others might not be of much use.
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Finding purpose at work
As was clearly established by the Gallup report mentioned above, many workers hate their jobs. If you’ve ever wondered why Thank God It’s Friday is so popular, now you know the reason.
Another Gallup report established that “71% of young people aren’t engaged at work ― and at least 60% are open to new job opportunities.” Further, a different Gallup research, which combined 30 separate studies and data from more than 1 million respondents, found that the millennial workforce is predominantly checked out.”
A July 29 CNBC article outlines four of the biggest reasons as to why millennial work engagement is so low:
- Unrealistically high expectations of what their day-to-day work lives would be like
- Impatience and frustration because they want career advancement in months vs. years
- Social media overload, which can create a distorted reality where everyone else seems to have an amazing life
- Employers who aren’t providing new opportunities or compelling reasons for them to stick around
With that understanding, how do you turn things around and make the most of your job?
“Still, try to learn from it,” Ivowi says. “Think of it as a stepping stone to your next job. Skills never go to waste. Second, ask to work on special projects/committees in the organization in areas that match your interests. And third, nurture a hobby of yours so that you have a good balance.”
Finding your passion
Experts say that the simplest method of determining your purpose is to discover your passion. But, to find your passion, you have to open yourself to a diversity of interests.
Tucci agrees with this analogy. “The one you’re passionate about won’t feel like a job. You’ll be excited to get up every morning for it,” she says.
But in the meantime, she stresses, “if you’re already in a job, you can ask to work in different functions if your organization is flexible. You’ll learn which you’re good at/passionate about,” she concludes.
Developing your leadership skills and gaining the trust of co-workers
“Firstly, and most importantly, keep working hard for your own sake, not your boss’s. Your efforts will pay off eventually. Master your skill. Know your job better than anyone else. It will be difficult for anyone NOT to respect that,” Tucci buttresses.
Ivowi’s advice here is in alignment with several suggestions from career counselors and coaches. However, not a common practice in the industry. Many millennial employees do not have the patience to work on establishing themselves. Yet, being a leader and gaining trust in the workplace cannot be “instgrammified.” It is earned.
“Unless your boss is the only person that doesn’t appreciate your efforts, you may have to accept that there’s more you can do,” Tucci continues. “Learn from your mistakes. As long as you don’t always make the same mistakes, I don’t think people will punish you forever. Work hard on achieving results. There’s nothing that will help you bounce back and gain trust more than that. Stay driven! Enjoy the lifelong pursuit of learning!”
There you have it, useful cues to help you bootstrap your career.
As we come to the conclusion of this article, the message is crystal clear: personality is not permanent. Regardless of where you are in your career journey, you can grow and thrive. Use these exclusive insights to build your equity and become a better person. From Ivowi’s track record, we know that these tips are not another laundry list of career advice. These are keys that helped the woman become one of the most respected executives in corporate Ghana. Now that we’ve shared them with you, I hope you can apply them and transform your life.
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Tom-Chris Emewulu is the Founder and President of Stars From All Nations, an education company that unlocks African youth’s potential through EPIC events and an immersive career accelerator called ReadyForWork.Africa. A business strategist and trainer, Tom-Chris enjoys helping entrepreneurs and rising professionals to be successful and has consulted for brands such as the MasterCard Foundation, GIZ, British Council, among others. He is the author of the classic self-help book Breaking the Limits. Forbes, DW, Business Insider, SABC, and other publications have featured his works. Tom-Chris is a thought leader on youth development, social entrepreneurship, technological innovation, and the future of work. You can find him on Social Media via @tomchrisemewulu.