Inability of job seekers to write a proper covering letter while seeking for white collar jobs makes things difficult for young graduates.
A cover letter is something someone used to impress potential employers. It’s a chance to show them more than what can be seen on the resume and to show them how someone is able to help them.
But writing a cover letter nowadays has become a hug challenge, some of the experts who spoke with LEADERSHIP in Lagos attributed it to educational decay in the sector.
Year in year out, Nigerian tertiary institutions churn out thousands of graduates with only a limited number of jobs available in the “labour market.” The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said out of a total active labour force of 85.08 million people in Nigeria, about 16 million people were unemployed in the third quarter of 2017.
Human Resource experts say the core problem of the rising unemployment crisis in Nigeria is not solely caused by lack of employment opportunities but lack of employability development by 99 percent of today’s graduates.
Most of those Nigerians daily wonder why they are unable to get job despite writing tons and tons of application letters. Many graduate job vacancies in Nigeria require applicants to send in cover letters.
“I advertised for a job, after about 278 persons sent in their applications, only 10 persons understood that they had to send covering letters. And of the 10 persons, only two wrote what could pass as a covering letter,” a Human Resource paper, Nkechi Samuel said.
According to the chairman chartered institute of personnel management, Lagos Chapter, Mrs. Chidi Obiejesi, said that the students are no more ready to learn. She observed that English language usage in Nigeria has persistent errors in the spoken or written output, regardless of status or occupation, especially by the teeming population of unemployed youths, most of whom are graduates.
Obiejesi stated that the decline in the standard of English usage is symptomatic of the decline of educational standard in general. Every stakeholder in the educational system has a share of the blame, from schoolchildren and their teachers to the parents and the proprietors, particularly federal, state, and local governments.
She said that the government is also to blame for lowering the morale of the teachers, by not paying their salaries and other entitlements on time and for failing to provide regular capacity building opportunities to enhance their performance. These deficiencies are the more painful to bear when viewed against the humongous amounts of money looted by the political elite.
Also speaking Secretary, HUMAN Capital Providers Association of Nigeria, HuCaPAN, Mr. Solomon Adebosin, said it a fundamental issues, for job seekers inability to write covering letters in a working place, saying that their lecturers did not teach them well.
He said the problems started from primary school to secondary till they get to high institutions. Student did not put their mind to learning any more; the issue of social media has affected their learning. English composition some of them cannot write,
Adebosin stated that adequate training need to be given to teachers or lecturers in the institutions of learning in other to impacts a proper education to students. Also , parents should encourage their children by making sure that they pay more attention to their studies rather going into internet searching for unnecessary things.
He urged the government to provide enabling environment for the institution and put end to lingering crisis in high institution.
Also speaking, Mrs Christiana Okechukwu said, “A cover letter is usually a summary of an applicant’s CV, a quick introduction. It is the first contact an applicant has with a potential employer. Cover letters are expected to explain the reasons for an applicant’s interest in the job and identify relevant skills and experiences.
“Most hiring companies request that applicants send in their CVs alongside cover letters to make their jobs easier. This way, they can screen cover letters to disqualify as many candidates as possible and move to scanning through CVs of those applicants with impressive cover letters. There are thousands of cover letter how-tos and formats on the internet but the most important factor of a cover letter is that applicants sell themselves as much as they can in very few words.”
She explained that even traditional companies recognise that many applicants though may have look good on paper with top qualifications, but not necessarily measure up in intelligence.
According to her, some graduates may even be intelligent enough to pass an interview, “but you have to get to the interview stage before you can show your intelligence. And you don’t get to the interview stage without a well written CV or covering letter. This is something most applicants don’t know. Human resource managers judge you, without necessarily meeting you.”
She also said in some instance, most jobseekers apply to hundreds of jobs using just one cover letter, when each application should have a cover letter unique to the needs of the hiring companies thereby making it a real pain for recruiters to scan through thousands of CVs amongst which the majority don’t match the company’s need
Another Human Resource expert, Tunji Ogunkoya, said some Nigerian graduates write poorly and are unable to communicate anything meaningful through their covering letter or application letters.
He said, “some graduates in Nigeria do not know the basics of formal communication. They write application letters that can cause headache to whoever reads them and expect to get employed. Communication is a key aspect of professional life and graduates must develop their communication skills to secure jobs.”
He encouraged unemployed graduates to take courses on writing and communication to improve their ability to communicate clearly so that potential employers will be interested enough to invite them for an interview after reading their letters.