Welcome to our expert interview section where we discuss burning workplace and employment issues with leading HR professional.
Our guest this week is Samuel Akinlotan, a professional HR expert with HCDC.
Samuel Akinlotan is passionate about talent management and people development, and I am interested in applying my passion and knowledge to help organisations attract, motivate and retain talents in their workforce. A motivated and ambitious individual, focused on pursuing a career in the field of human resources. I believe this is an exciting area in the business world today and one that I have the ability and aptitude in which to succeed.
- Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into the HR industry.
Samuel Akinlotan is a graduate of Biochemistry from the prestigious University of Lagos. He is passionate about people development with a focus on human resources. He currently works with a leading HR consulting firm in Nigeria and has garnered experience working with top management consultants in Nigeria. He has been considered by many as one of the brightest young HR Professionals in Nigeria, and he has a global perspective in view. He was a student campus ambassador for the Unilever Brand, and has won several leadership excellence awards. Samuel has spoken to thousands of graduates and undergraduates on career and personal development related topics which has inspired and motivated many to live purposeful lives. Samuel is playful, an Arsenal fan, a lover of God and books.
I discovered my passion for people development through my leadership experiences as an undergraduate. I clearly knew I was not meant to be a scientist even though I had good grades. This spurred me to discover myself; my strengths, interests and other areas that needed to be known, and this is still ongoing as it is a lifelong journey. After conscious personal development through reading, personality assessment, mentorship and internships, I discovered my love for human resources. The HR journey started in my 3rd year in the university and it has been a wonderful experience learning and practicing in this field.
- The unemployment situation in the country is worrisome. Some people believe that the university system is to be blamed while most job seekers believe that employers are asking for the impossible. Who do you think is to be blamed?
To start with, I do not believe that employers are asking for too much, however due to the inefficiency of federal regulatory bodies, some have abused labour and employment policies. I have about 3 years recruitment and selection experience, and I can tell you that less than 20% of Nigerian graduates are employable. We all know that our educational system is not in a good state and has helped many people to fail. I remember my final year, it was just a few weeks to my final exam and behold a strike started that spanned 6 months. That could have been an excuse for me to sit at home but, instead I took an internship in a field I am passionate about. Basically, I believe it bores down to the individual and their will to give all it takes to be the best at what they do or want to be. There are jobs in the country, it’s just the ability of job seekers to position themselves for opportunities and prove to be valuable that matters. So I will blame the individual (Lol).
- What are a few unique pieces of career advice that nobody is mentioning
I have always been a big fan of people I see that are consciously living their lives daily in the direction of their big picture. My candid word for anyone is to live their life intentionally, always think about your actions if it is contributing to the professional you want to be 10-20 years from now. Live intentionally and live daily!
- Let’s talk a bit about social recruiting. Most job seekers I meet are yet to come to grasp with how important social media is to their not only for finding a job but also for their career. What advice would you give to them on this and can you share your single piece of advice for using LinkedIn for job prospecting.
I will share this for the first time in writing, I met one of the most awesome bosses in the world; my current boss on LinkedIn. Most job seekers don’t know the impact their posts have on the perception people create of them. If you check my social accounts, I have a limit to what I engage in and this should be the case for job seekers. Only follow trends that involve your area(s) of interest and follow people that can add value to your social footprint. According to a study by glassdoor, 74% of employers now check prospective employees on social media as part of their screening. This is also in practice in Nigeria, so stop shortchanging your job search success with those silly posts, rude remarks and unfriendly response. Build a concise profile, use a clear professional picture, contribute to discussions in your field of interest, add people in your field of interest, develop personal relationships and show yourself to be valuable.
- Recently I saw a picture of a guy going for a GTbank interviewing and dressed in orange. This made me chuckle. It got me thinking; would you say that was a wise move and why?
Lo, I also chuckled! Well, it can be two ways. If he had applied to be a mannequin at their branch, he might get the job, but if it was for a corporate role, he certainly would not. Imagine if a candidate with similar relevant experience, and competence with a bespoke dress sense appears alongside him, he will most likely have shot himself in the leg.
- Let’s talk a bit about HR personnel. Most people hardly give feedbacks after interviews and I think most HR’s are guilty of this. What is your take on this?
Well, as an undergraduate I suffered the fate of not receiving feedbacks from a few organisations through their HR; sincerely, it was a demoralising experience. However, practicing HR has helped me see the light. With the amount of candidates that are involved in a recruitment process, it is most times difficult to give feedback to all candidates engaged. I remember a recruitment process where we had over 10,000 candidates apply for a graduate trainee programme that was only going to take 25 graduate trainees. Giving feedback will be a big challenge for such process, and hence the generic regret mail HR sends to unsuccessful candidates.
- I read one of your articles on the some of the things you might need to know in your first 100 days at work. If you were to pick just 1, what would it be?
Build relationships. You will find that most successful people are people that have developed their skills and created great relationships. There is the 6 degree of relationship, which says that you are more often 6 persons away from whoever you want to connect with. I have heard of supervisors asking for a subordinate to be taken off because of relatively poor interpersonal skills. So it is essential to develop your social/interpersonal skills.
- If you were to give just one piece of advice to job seekers, what would it be?
Dear job seeker, ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country (Paraphrased from John F. Kennedy’s quote). Stop the entitlement mentality and take responsibility for your life and personal development.
Thank you Samuel for sharing your insight with us.