Professors Without Borders is committed to empowering students through education. Through our summer school programs in Sierra Leone, Thailand, Uganda, and India, we help students develop the skills that they will need to pursue jobs within their chosen career field. In “The First Step”, Professors Without Borders will present advice on searching and applying for jobs in Sierra Leone, Thailand and Uganda. We hope that these articles will serve as resources for our past, present and future students.
We asked PROWIBO program alumni and research associate, Mucktarr Raschid and PROWIBO Project Coordinator for Sierra Leone and research associate Yanoh Jalloh to share their advice for searching and applying for jobs in Sierra Leone.
Sometimes the most difficult part of a job search is the initial research phase. While looking for job posting can be overwhelming, there are resources that you can use to make sure that you are proactive and productive. Finding out where to look for a job posting is key. Mucktarr suggests that you begin your job search by looking either in local newspapers or browsing social media platforms. “Newspapers are a key tool for searching for job applications in Sierra Leone,” says Mucktarr. However, both Mucktarr and Yanoh emphasise the importance of using social media to conduct job searches and research job opportunities. They recommend students utilise social media platforms, such as Facebook to browse for job adverts and applications.
Moreover, you can utilise platforms, such as Whatsapp to come across job opportunities. “Some organizations send out job postings through their networks on WhatsApp [and] sometimes people send a job description to a group or their contacts and it gets forwarded. You can’t really do anything special to receive these job postings but once can always be on the lookout,” says Yanoh. Furthermore, Yanoh suggests that individuals browse the Freetown announcement job forums on Yahoo to look for job adverts.
In addition to social media, Yanoh recommends visiting the job search website Careers.sl. Launched in 2014, Careers.sl aims to “lower the search cost and barrier to information for both job-seekers and employers, providing basic labor market information to them and a centralised meeting point wherein the two groups can interact.” Additionally, the site publishes articles offering advice on writing an effective resume recruiting and hiring candidates, and ways to increase your productivity at work.
Skill Development and Work Experience
According to Raschid, “skills and experience are fundamental in nipping a job, so it is advisable for one to constantly make relentless efforts to improve your abilities and competencies.” Raschid recommends that individuals work first on developing good working ethic and develop good habits, such as punctuality as early as the interview process. In addition to soft skills, Yanoh recommends to work on developing greater computer literacy. This includes have a good understanding of Microsoft Suite. At the least, it is useful to have a good understanding of Microsoft Excel as many businesses in Sierra Leone use in many of their daily operations.
Moreover, it is attractive to employers if you have experience in data evaluation and know how to extrapolate data as well as evaluate and present data sets.
In addition to investing in skill development, Mucktarr suggests individuals try to gain as much work experience as possible. Start by looking at volunteer opportunities with organisations (NGOs, nonprofits, for-profits, etc.) or government institutions. Getting your foot in the door is crucial as “you might be a priority for consideration if there is a vacancy in the organisation,” says Mucktarr.
Mucktarr recommends that individuals explore all forms of employment, including self-employment. There are many possibilities for small business ventures in Sierra Leone. Individuals with a passion for starting their own business should begin by researching their area of interest and drafting a sound business plan. Moreover, Mucktarr recommends that individuals base their venture on their access to start-up funding.
It is important to be persistent and vocalise that you are actively looking for job opportunities. “In Sierra Leone it is very much about who you know, how you know them, and knowing them at the right time. If people know you are in the job market, they will consider you when opportunities come up,” says Yanoh.
Many thanks to Mucktarr and Yanoh! Stay tuned for Part Two, where we discuss tips for searching and applying for jobs in Thailand.
“About Careers.sl.” Careers.sl. Accessed July 25, 2018. http://www.careers.sl/page/about-careerssl.
“About Sierra Leone.” UNDP Sierra Leone. Accessed July 15, 2018. http://www.sl.undp.org/content/sierraleone/en/home/countryinfo/.
“Career Advisory and Placement Services.” National Youth Commission Sierra Leone. Accessed July 15, 2018. http://www.nationalyouthcommission.sl/index.html.
“National Youth Commission Sierra Leone.” National Youth Commission Sierra Leone. Accessed July 15, 2018. http://www.nationalyouthcommission.sl/index.html.
Weicht, Rebecca. “Education Systems Can Stifle Creative Thought. Here’s How to Do Things Differently.” World Economic Forum. Accessed July 15, 2018. https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/education-systems-can-stifle-creative-thought-here-s-how-to-do-things-differently.