In response to the growing unemployment in Nigeria we’ve seen a large number of jobsites pop up over the last few years, all promising to be the answer to the high youth and graduate unemployment.
We join SHORTLIST Nigeria one such tech company that promotes themselves as a ‘premium talent pool’. On the eve of its one year anniversary we look through the eyes of a new tech start up and ask their MD Mrs Tayo Leigh to share their experiences and challenges in running and growing a tech business in Nigeria.
· How did SHORTLIST come about?
Mr Foluso Phillips the CEO of the Phillips Consulting Group and ex-chairman of the Nigerian economic summit group approached me with this idea of a “yellow pages” where professionals can advertise their skills. He was weary of the large amount of CV’s the firm received for the considerably fewer roles that passed through his recruitment team. He wanted to create a platform where those CV’s could be made directly available to a larger group of hiring companies who were not using recruitment consultants or could not afford it.
The idea finally gained some legs when I got involved and could deliver the technical implementation needed to make it happen. The platform appealed to me as someone that schooled in Nigeria but currently living abroad, like many of my friends interested in coming home I wouldn’t know the first place to start job hunting, it all just seemed completely word of mouth. So if you’re not connected you’re at an immediate disadvantage. I wanted to build a platform that I would feel comfortable putting my details on and we felt despite all the many jobsites out there, none really catered for an experienced high calibre of job-hunter.
· How does SHORTLIST work?
I call ourselves the Nigerian Linkedin. Jobseekers come on to our site and build an online resume in minutes that gets stored in our database. Hiring companies search through this talent pool using keywords and filters to pull out the CV’s that match the skills they’re looking for. After that they’re able to contact the candidates immediately and directly.
· How are you different?
We’re interested in experienced hires, the professional with already 5yrs plus in a chosen profession, along with the passive job hunter - the guy that’s already in a job but would be interested in moving on if the role was right.
Treating candidates with respect, for example our resumes are anonymous and contact details hidden until the professional themselves releases it to an employer they like – these are the small builds and decisions we made to protect our candidates too.
· So what have been your biggest successes to date?
That we’re still here a year on. Every testimonial we get from a user who’s been hired off our website is something we celebrate. The word of mouth when someone tells us their friend got a job through us and that’s why they signed up, really is our reason d’etre.
We are pleased that so early into our launch that we have such a number of large multinational companies that are hiring from our site and keep returning to source for senior roles. There are organisations that stumbled across us, had a great experience and then came back.
Also the diversity of the registered companies we have on our site too, we are hugely behind SME’s so we’re really pleased to have so many young growing organisations actively hiring on our platform.
· What have been your biggest challenges?
Navigating the tech infrastructure. First it was the initial building of the site ensuring all the features worked even from the most basic phones and in the oldest internet browsers – then addressing the generally poor payment gateway solutions present in Nigerian that means a website must quote several ways of payment because each one being so unreliable on their own. We learnt early on to challenge everything. Many so called experts let us down and the only real confidence was from doing it ourselves along with a huge amount of testing.
· What do you think about the tech space in Nigeria?
Fantastic, I couldn’t be prouder of how quickly, entrepreneurial and creative this industry has become in the last 5 years. We have a lot of tech start-ups on our platform so I love seeing how entrepreneurs are finding creative ways to fill everyday problems.
· What can the government do to support more businesses like yours?
Online is such a moving target it’s not synonymous with the public sector, but there are great initiatives, digital hubs and growing sources of investment. The government could better support this industry by encouraging education in coding and software design early on so we have the skills inhouse.
· What do you think the key challenges are for the unemployed?
I know from my own experience that I want my staff to be proactive and delivering from day one. The increasingly shorter time that people stay in jobs means I don’t have 6 months to train you if you’re going to leave in less than a year's time. So I believe companies are demanding that employees come with the skills and knowhow already in tow. I appreciate this makes it hard for graduates, but there are so many ways to gain experience. If I was unemployed, If needed I would work for free to keep my CV current and keep myself available for opportunities.
· What’s next for SHORTLIST?
This week we celebrate our one year. As a thank you to our users we’re giving one SHORTLIST+ member a chance to win N150k worth of training with Phillips Consulting on any set of courses they like.
Over the next year we want to reach out to more employers especially the SME community and to work alongside key professions to ensure we’re attracting the right talent to the industry via our platform.
Overall I wouldn’t choose to run any other kind of business in any other country, this is more fun than I ever could have imagined. So here’s to another 20 years of SHORTLIST!
Mrs Tayo Leigh