Before you quit your 9-5 for full time study – Read this

Are you thinking about resigning from your job to pursue a postgraduate degree?  

The decision to leave the security of full time employment is a huge one. So, you should not make it without thinking it through thoroughly.

Here are some things that you will have to consider before you hand in that resignation letter.   

First of all think about why you want to leave your job, are you leaving because you are unhappy with the job that you are doing or you want to change careers.

If you are simply unhappy at your current job, would your decision change if you were offered work somewhere else? Now, If this is the case then why not simply find another job where you will be happier?

Also, if feel that you need to study towards a certain degree to secure a promotion at your current job then discuss this with your manager and find out for sure that you need the degree for the promotion. If there is another way to get the promotion other than leaving to study further may not be the solution that you are looking for.

Before you quit your 9-5 for school, think about why you want to resign from your job and study full time rather than studying part time Click To Tweet

But if you are looking to pursue a different career or a career in research or academia, then you definitely need a post graduate degree. Find out exactly what you need to secure that job, I mean if you are going to risk this much, then you may as well be super prepared.

Also think about why you want to resign from your job and study full time rather than studying part time. Is this really necessary? Some ladies have been able to work 9-5 and work on a side hustle at the same time.  

Resigning means that you do not have an income, so think about this:

  • How will you pay for your studies?
  • How long is your degree? Reality is that studying can be expensive.
  • What happens if you do not get a job straight after you finish studies?
  • If you have been saving for it then GREAT but if you are thinking of getting a loan, then how will you pay it back?

You really need to plan for it. There is also the issue of maintaining your current lifestyle, truth be told sister… shopping for you may be a thing of the past without an income. And yes….it could also be goodbye to ladies night drinks with the girls.

So be ready to cut down on some of your favorite past time activities. Be REALISTIC with yourself about what this means for you.

If you plan on job hunting after you graduate, it will not hurt to volunteer where you would like to work on a part time bases while you study, this will increase your chances of getting a job there when you graduate.

Quitting a 9-5 job to study will not work for everyone. But this being said, you should not be discouraged if you are sure that this is what you want to do.

Just be prepared for what this will mean for you. Now go out there and get it done, hun!


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WEBINAR WITH BUNMI SIMOYAN: HOW TO LAND A JOB AT A GLOBAL COMPANY LIKE SHE LEADS AFRICA (FEB 27)

Have you thought about what kind of company you’d like to work at? If your dream job is a traditional 9 – 5, where you get to send out a couple of emails and scroll through your IG feed for the rest of the day, this is NOT for you!

Now, if you’re wondering how you can land a job at a global organization or work with a dynamic and innovative team that’ll inspire you to learn continuously and be part of something bigger – don’t sweat it, girl, we’ve gotchu!

Join us on Tuesday, 27th February, as we host a Webinar with Bunmi Simoyan, who will be sharing exclusive advice on how to land a job at a global company like She Leads Africa.

Bunmi is the Head, People Operations at She Leads Africa. She is passionate about building successful careers and connecting the right people with the right jobs.

Some of the topics we’ll cover

  • Creative ways to get a recruiter’s attention with your job application
  • Traits global recruiters look for in candidates
  • How to slay the interview process
  • How to demonstrate that you are capable of doing a kickass job
  • Do’s and don’ts of securing a job at such companies

Register below to have access to this opportunity and submit questions that you would like Bunmi to answer.

Webinar Details:

Date: Tuesday, February 27th, 2018

Time: Lagos 4pm // Johannesburg 5pm // Nairobi 6pm

Place: We’ll send you the link to watch once you register

Watch here:

About Bunmi

Bunmi Simoyan currently works as the Head of People Operations with SheLeadsAfrica.org, where she adopts innovative HR solutions to drive and promote leading-edge people strategies. She is also an independent HR Consultant for various small to medium-sized companies.

Prior to joining SheLeadsAfrica.org, Bunmi spent the first 8 years of her career at Ecobank Limited Nigeria, where she worked in e-business, transactional banking and operations before pursuing a career in Human Resources.

Born in France, raised in Nigeria, Bunmi is a trained HR professional who is passionate about providing innovative HR solutions. She is convinced that her purpose is connecting the right talent to businesses and providing solutions that can help businesses succeed.

Bunmi graduated with a Distinction in Human Resources and Knowledge Management from Lancaster University – UK. She also holds a Post-Master’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Laval University, Quebec, Canada.

4 easy steps to maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace

Emotional intelligence just like any skill can be learned and mastered. Negative attitudes, just like talent only develops when it is in use.

Ever heard the saying “practice makes perfect”? That goes without saying when it comes to maintaining a positive attitude in the workplace.

You worked endlessly on a project with your supervisor and the only feedback you receive from the same supervisor during the review was that “you should have put in more effort”.

Finding yourself in those shoes and sometimes losing it, feels like a right response at that moment. The last thing you need in your career path is to be associated with the “baby” who is not ready to climb a corporate ladder.

The following guidelines will assist you to slay it like a pro when you are tempted to lose it.

1. Acknowledge to address

The only good thing about the loss of emotional control is the fact that, it does not go unnoticed firstly by you. Secondly and negatively by everyone around you and once expressed cannot be taken back.

The worse thing you can do is ignore it, just like a balloon being inflated it grows bigger and bigger until it explodes. Although study associate women having hippocampus and a deeper limbic system bigger than men, which allows them to express emotions in detail than men.

That being said, when it happens do not beat yourself about it just acknowledge it. In this predicament something wonderful is that “women might be better prepared to physically react to negative stimuli than males” says Milnik.

That makes women better managers.

2. Excuse yourself

Walking away from the situation does not make one a coward, although society had taught us the opposite. Furthermore, postponing dealing with something does not mean avoiding it. When the edge to say or act according to the way you are actually feeling kicks in.

It is best to draw away from the situation strategically by suggesting a way out. That can be achieved by saying “how about we consider this aspect at a certain time?

3. Reaction time

Often the saying “I can’t deal with this right now” is associated with being rude but it is a technique used to buy time. Time is one of the most important factors and everyone needs it to maintain a positive attitude.

In order to effectively analyze all options and come up with an appropriate conclusion. Reacting at the very same moment might cause you to respond without considering all the facts.

 

4. Manage

“It is much more preferred to work with an unqualified person with a positive attitude rather than a qualified individual who lacks it, “says one manager. The are various ways which can be used to manage it which have been proven to work.

Different techniques work for different people, you just need to find the one that works for you and your circumstance. Amongst the many techniques available such as counting, breathing and walking.

Listening attentively to distinguish all sound and their connection without any thought is my personal favorite.

 


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How to land an Internship at the International Labour Organisation

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was created in 1919 and serves as the leading U.N. agency dealing with labour issues. The headquarters of the ILO is located in Switzerland employing some 2,700 officials from over 150 nations at its headquarters in Geneva and in around 40 field offices around the world.

Among these officials, 900 work in technical cooperation programmes and projects.

Here’s what you need to know

The internship program requires you to be enrolled in or have completed a Masters Degree. The work of the ILO is really diverse, so your specialization does not need to be in labour or international policy etc. Take a look at the different departments to see where your interest could lay.

The duration of the internship can be between 3 to 6 months. This usually depends on matters such as funding or whether you will be working on a particular project. It is definitely better to apply for the full 6 months, if you get three months there is an opportunity for extension of your contract.

Brush up your language skills, the main language spoken in Geneva is French and with the three working languages of the ILO being Spanish, French, and English. Having a primary or proficient knowledge of two out of the three will be a great way to get around and will boost your chances of an internship.

We all know that most internships are unpaid, leading a lot of young graduates into debt and dire living circumstances. Fortunately, the ILO pays its interns a stipend which is enough to live in Geneva, subject to a nice and tight budget).

Geneva is one of the most expensive cities to live in but don’t let that be a deterrent. It is doable, despite the fact that everyone loves to remind you how expensive it is. But you are a Motherland mogul, you know how to budget!

Applying for the internship

You can apply for the internship through the ILO generic internship roster, which is published several times per year.The roster will be made available to all departments within the Office. Find the right department! Read up on the different departments and their work to see where your interest lies.

This will help you hone your application to the actual department, the internship experience is considered a learning experience rather than a work experience. You want to be able to get the most out of it so you can build your professional skills in your field.

You can apply to the internship roster and wait to be contacted by a department when an internship position opens up.

Getting there

I hope you got your savings right because of the cost of travel, insurance, and accommodation, as well as living expenses, are your responsibility, as an intern. You gotta pay your own way girl.

Moving can be extremely costly so be prepared to bear those costs. If you can get sponsorship that would be amazing. You really have to think about whether it is worth it and how feasible it actually is.

So Motherland Mogul, is it worth it?

Internships really do have their costs and benefits. And considering moving to another continent is a bigger battle on its own. So, as with all things you do, you have to think about whether it is what you want.

The risk is definitely worth the reward. Currently, internships are the best way to get your foot in the door and build your career at international organizations such as the ILO.

One of the lines you will constantly hear is that the internship program is not intended to lead to a career in the ILO. This is true, there is no guarantee of a position after your internship so you have to put your networking skills to use and your resourcefulness to further your career either at the ILO or any of the other organizations in Geneva.

You will be exposed to the structure of the United Nations and its specialized agencies. The work environment is multicultural and multi-faceted, and the networking opportunities are endless as you will meet not only your colleagues but people from around the world who attend conferences and meetings at the ILO.

This exposure is unbelievable, you just have to know how to make the best of the internship.


Got advice on how to land a job or an internship in your organization or industry? Share your article with us here.

What is your next employer looking for?

Employers have a certain type of candidate they need to join their organization. Opportunities will open up, and you will be among those seeking (and eventually chosen) for that role.

This article shares what the employer is looking for as well extra tips on what you also need to avoid or stop doing if you want to enjoy a fulfilling career.


Reliability, dependability, and trustworthiness

To succeed in your career, you need to be trustworthy. Your boss, team members, and other colleagues can depend on you to carry out agreed tasks and keep your word. You need to be a reliable member of the team. Those are the ones that get recognized and get to higher heights in their careers.

Listening

Communication as an essential skill cannot be overemphasized. Unfortunately, listening is a challenge for most people. Learn to listen attentively and go a step further to ask questions and clarify statements or comments so that you avoid making mistakes in the long run.

Do not assume that you heard one thing and then do the other. That is a career stumbling block right there. Try and re-iterate what needs to be said enough to make sure you are sure about what you have interpreted.

Know your onions

Make sure you have the ability to actually carry out the job you’ve been employed to do. No distractions or time wasting on tasks.

Let your wardrobe SLAY

Depending on the type of job it is, wardrobe co-ordination is very essential. Your day at work should be a day you can easily create a professional impression. Get your outfits suitable enough to show that you are ready, qualified and happy to be given an opportunity at the company.

I suggest you do smart and professional dressing in your first few weeks until you settle into your role and the organization’s culture.

Always be punctual

Being punctual is essential. From your work start time, to your work prioritization, you need to eliminate all forms of “African time”. Click To Tweet

Know your key strengths

You have a gift. Call it talent, skill or passion. Just know you have a gift. Figure out what it is. It is also identified as your key strength. You already have it. It may take time to discover but you will and can discover them.

Develop and learn from others

The interesting thing is that you can always find a person who also identifies with your strength and has done more in developing this key attribute.

That is why we have mentors or coaches and role models. You should have an attitude that is willing to learn. Your attitude to learning from others will determine your acceleration.

Take personal responsibility

You are what you create. Make decisions and stand by the consequences of them. Click To Tweet

Kill that entitlement mindset that blames everyone but yourself. Determine to not only grow but to also be the one going to make sure you definitely grow.

Below are some habits that employees need to really avoid.

All employers aren’t the same but you can be an exceptional employee and that attitude will take you higher. Click To Tweet 

I recommend this to everyone looking to attain a higher impact in their chosen field.

1. Taking all the credit

Working as part of a team means everyone contributes their own quota to the success of a task, goal or project. Do not take credit for anything you do. Even when you work alone on a project, it will be obvious what your contributions are but even in that, you still would have needed some input or help from someone other than yourself.

Avoid taking credit that you don’t deserve and over-estimate your participation to the achievement of a goal.

2. Talking down on others

It is totally wrong to speak to a colleague in a derogatory manner. It makes you project yourself negatively and gives off the impression that you lack confidence and possess low self-esteem.

Avoid the urge to speak of or join in, to destroy a colleague’s work reputation. It’s an epic no for your career success.

3. Expressing anger at work

To be in a position of leadership is not a walk in the park. Expression of emotions especially anger is a skill that needs mastery. No one is entitled to use anger to intimidate or communicate at work. It is not a management or leadership tool. To ensure you enjoy a successful career, do not wear your emotions on your sleeves and express emotions when you need to and appropriately.

4. Negative Personality

Another career stall is one who has a negative personality. Everything about you is negative and distasteful. Nothing good comes from your conversations, you always have negativity and spread it to anyone around you. Your contributions are always negative, your output negative, your impression or comments about colleagues are also negative. The outcome is disastrous to your career success.

5. Inability to take responsibility for actions

Avoid the need to point fingers and blame everything and everyone for the mistake or gap. It is going to stall your career if you are unable to own up to it. When you lead a team, you, as the lead, are responsible for the success or failure. Do not pass on the buck but stand tall, admit the wrong, learn, adjust and move on.

6. Hoarding Information

Withholding information from your colleagues so that you can be in competition or at an advantage over them is not a criteria for a successful career.

It shows you are not a team player neither are you a candidate for getting into higher leadership positions. Information is to be shared, not kept as a secret weapon.


What key lessons have you learned as an employee or an employer? Share your experience with us here.

10 tips for excellent customer service

Customer care can make or break a business, here are 10 tips to win at customer service Click To Tweet

Do you remember the last time you had an unpleasant experience with a service or product? Of course, you do. As paying customers, we’re looking to get value for our money. Yet we may find that at times the service or product fails to live up to the sales pitch. Perhaps the company does not answer emails or phone calls, the staff is clueless and disinterested, or you are given the run around when you called to report a problem.

It does not matter how low your prices are, if the customer service is poor you will still lose out on repeat business. When you have outstanding customer service; happy customers are more than willing to pay for quality and a pleasant experience! Excellent customer service is what will set your businesses apart and improve your sales figures.

Here is how to improve customer service for your hustle.

Get your staff trained

It is important to ensure that your staff members are trained in how to interact with customers and how to solve problems in a professional manner. You may want to train your employees on the following;

  • Greeting and interacting with customers
  • Answering the phone
  • Staying calm in a crisis
  • Managing emotions in a difficult situation
  • Solving problems in a professional manner.

Capitalise in effective and reliable training tools and on-going refresher courses. When staff members are properly trained, they feel empowered and motivated to serve to the best of their ability.

Create a welcoming environment

Companies who create a personalised service not only attract new customers but are able to retain their customer base.

Invest in friendly, patient and courteous staff. Sometimes it’s the little things that matter such as offering a cold glass of water on a hot day, comfortable seating in the waiting area or a children’s area with toys for example can go a long way towards winning them over.

In order to make lasting connections with customers, it is very important that the staff exude an authentic personable feel as opposed to animated robotic performances which may come out as fake or acting and put off the customer.

Know your products/services

It is important that the staff know your products and services in and out, how they work and how they benefit the customer. Be aware of the most common questions customers ask, and know how to articulate the answers that will leave them satisfied.

Keep your points clear, simple and leave nothing to doubt. This way you will also be in a position to assist them when they run into problems. Persuasion skills are also valuable in excellent customer service. This is the ability to convince interested customers that your products are right for them.

It is also important to honour your commitments, do what you say you will do, for example if you offer a guarantee then you must honour it. A sure-fire way to ruin your relationship with a client is to go back on your word.

Polish your internal organisational systems

Set clear goals and expectations so there are no misunderstandings, regularly communicate with your staff and find out what challenges they experience. Rectify problems and maximise on your strengths.

Have a clearly defined and uniform company culture. An organisation that is disjointed and at loggerheads with itself will soon show its cracks to the outsider and can never succeed. All involved must pull together to one direction. It is crucial to have a well-defined organisational structure for communication and decision-making purposes.

Build trust by focusing on customer relationships and not sales Click To Tweet

Know your customers

Know your target market very well; what they look for in a product and what their buying habits are. This will put you in a great position to not only match their needs but exceed their expectations! Build trust by focusing on customer relationships and not sales.

Think long term when dealing with customers. By keeping customers happy, they will be loyal and through word of mouth, will do the marketing for you. It is also very important to be able to read your customers, whether face to face, via email or over the phone.

Apart from what the customer is saying out loud, some basic understanding of behavioural psychology helps you to look and listen for subtle clues about their non-verbal communication, what they are not saying, their current mood, patience level, personality etc. This will go far in keeping your customer interactions positive and fruitful.

Get customer feedback and solve problems

Remember the customer is always right. Invest in easy and swift communication channels such as a suggestion box, customer surveys and feedback forms. Besides asking them directly, you can do this by putting a suggestion box, customer surveys, feedback forms where customers can report back about your service and offer suggestions.

Offer many different ways for your customers to contact you: like phone, email, and your business’s social media pages. Also ensure management is easily accessible and reachable to resolve any matters when the need arise. Use the feedback to create a better experience and improved service.

Use social media wisely

Capitalise in well run platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram where you can post about your current specials, discounts and new products around the clock. As much as social media can build your brand, posting recklessly can easily tarnish your image. Engage with customers responsibly, with great diplomacy and prudence.

In the event of any complaint whether received publicly or privately, acknowledge the problem, apologize, even if you think you’re right, accept responsibility, adjust the situation with a negotiation to fix the problem and assure the customer that you will follow through. Your customers will appreciate this!

Treat employees as you would treat your customers & more tips to improve customer service Click To Tweet

Look after your staff

Treat employees as you would treat your customers. Employees take on more responsibility when they know they are appreciated and are an important part of the team. Unhappy employees will project their negative energy to the customers thus creating unpleasant experiences.

There are many ways to look after your staff besides generous pay and benefits, business owners can show an interest in the employees’ welfare, families and their future, throw them office parties or give various incentives.

It is also important to offer public recognition to employees who have done well for example, have an “employee of the year” award ceremony. This will go a long way in boosting Staff morale and a happy pleasant environment for customers means more business to you!

Show appreciation to your customers

Always say thank you after each transaction, this will make the customer feel noticed, respected and valued. This is one great way of building customer loyalty.

You may write personalized thank you notes or make a follow-up phone call a month or so later to find out how they are doing, some companies will even send out birthday or holiday cards.

Recognise your most frequent customers!

Give your best Customers the VIP experience, keep track of their preferences and let them know when new merchandise arrives that they are likely to be interested in.

You might also organize appreciation days just for those clients, or invite them to private pre-sales in advance of the public. Far from alienating new customers (who will still be treated with courtesy and respect), these programs demonstrate that loyalty has its rewards.

Top tips on human resources from two Sierra Leonean experts

The Sierra Leonean economy is in dire need of a streamlined and engaging workforce. Edleen B. Elba and Fullah Musu Conteh are two professionals in the Human Resource field helping to develop, recruit and retain talent in various sectors for the Sierra Leonean workforce. Edleen is a Chartered Human Resources Analyst who owns JobSearch, a human resources management company while Fullah is co-founder and managing human capital consultant at human capital solutions firm TV-PG.

In this article by Moiyattu Banya caught up with both ladies and got them to share some tips on building human capital for any business.


It is a known but sad fact that the average job seeker in Africa is a young person. Add to this the African Development Bank’s prediction of a youth bulge on the continent. This just begs the question, how will African countries cope with the increase of young people who will far outweigh available opportunities? In post-conflict countries like Sierra Leone, that rate is even higher. According to the 2013 Status of Youth Report released in Sierra Leone, over 70 percent of young people live under a dollar a day. The country’s unemployment rate is at 60 percent and is one of the highest in West Africa.

Ladies, how important is setting up an efficient team? What key attributes should young women possess for business?

Edleen: Your team is critical.

Hire employees with the right attitude. They may not be the most qualified or experienced but you can always train them.  People with integrity and those who care about their personal development and business growth are likely to be more committed and therefore, more productive.

Fullah: Be professional at all times with your team.

When it comes to your team and standards, be professional. Culturally in Sierra Leone, the lines tend to blur between professional and personal relationships. This situation, if not well-handled, can diminish one’s image as a leader. Case in point, as a start-up, you may have set systems in place and your policies may be top-notch. However, consistent adherence can be a challenge when clear-cut boundaries are not set. Evaluate your leadership style, and ensure your  team is in agreement with your expectations.  Always check for non-compliance to policies and structures, address the culprits and help them improve on compliance. However, if they still don’t fit in, let them go, irrespective of who they are.

What would you consider critical for a young woman setting up a business?

Fullah : Understand your business market.

Understand your competitors, know what the market needs, lacks or has in abundance – then strategically come in. To this end,  you can create a niche that caters to your passion and also the market. Use that knowledge to find mentors who can help you reach your goals and potential customers/clients. Know when to take a step back and when to aggressively push with a service or product. While at it, align with international best practices and contribute to Africa’s consistent growth. It’s best to do away with the standard TIA aka “This is Africa’s way” by ensuring that you adapt to best business practices for your clients’ sake and personal prestige. The bar should be raised, always.

Fullah Musu Conteh
Fullah Musu Conteh

Let’s talk about the dream team. How can one effectively manage a team without breaking it?

Edleen:  Share your vision!

I would say, share your vision with your employees and give them responsibilities. If they are actively involved in the decision-making process, they are more likely to believe they are a vital part of the business.

Also, it is important to have open communication channels. This is essential to any relationship.  Be fair, give regular and effective feedback.

How do we maintain personal control in the face of business expansion?

Fullah: Know and understand your strengths and weakness.

Once you do, find ways or people who can help close that gap. For example, I am a transformational person and monotony bores me to distraction. Owing to this, I  do not consider myself a sales person as I am terrible at selling my organization’s new products and services. To address this weakness, I have a strong team consisting of a competent operations person and a passionate business development individual. I design products and services while the operations person follows through with implementation. The role of the business development individual is to get clients while I work quietly behind the scenes to make us all happy.


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