GETTING AN ACADEMIC JOB IN NIGERIA: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

Despite the economic crisis that faces Nigeria, lecturers are among the few salary earners that are not uncomfortable. This is not only because they earn quite a decent salary(at least by national standards), they also enjoy the ‘rare’ freedom that allows them to venture into many other activities that fetch them extra money. These activities range from business, fellowship/research awards/grants, to freelancing, professional practices, etc. Besides, being a lecturer eases one’s stress of getting loans for business and personal use. Hence, lecturing jobs now sell like hot cakes i.e. more people than ever now want to become a lecturer. This has made securing a lecturing job highly competitive in Nigeria today. But in spite of the ‘crazy’ competition, you stand a good chance of securing a lecturing job if you follow the steps highlighted and discussed below.

  • GET ‘A GOOD FIRST DEGREE’: With ‘a good first degree’, I mean a degree with First Class Honors, Second Class Honors (Upper Division) or Second-Class Honors (Lower Division). The my-grade-doesn’t-define-me narrative does not seem to work in the academic field. If you don’t have a good first degree, your chance isn’t bright. But with one, you are a step closer to securing a lecturing job.
  • GET MORE DEGREES: Gone are those days when a first degree, especially with First-Class Honours, is an automatic ticket to getting a job in the academic sector. Nowadays, Nigerian universities no longer offer their best graduating students automatic employments due to reasons known to them. Thus, you need a Master’s Degree and, if possible, a Ph.D. to stand out of the mammoth crowd who might have graduated with a good first degree as well. With a Master’s Degree, you have taken another step towards landing your dream job. And with a Ph.D., you’re almost there. The fact is, with a Ph.D., you are surely going to get a lecturing job provided you are worth the degree mentally.
  • PUBLISH ACADEMIC PAPERS: Harness the presence of both local and international journals to give yourself an edge. The academic sector prefers recruiting applicants of proven qualities, and one main way through which interview panels know this is checking whether an applicant has published a paper in a standard journal (either local or international) or not. Publishing will take you a step closer to securing a lecturing job. So, publish!
  • GET YOURSELF REPUTABLE ACADEMIC REFEREES: Beyond academic qualifications and intelligence, you need referees who can attest to your efficiency and character. What your referees say about you goes a long in determining your chance of securing a lecturing job. But mind you, many lecturers (especially senior lecturers and professors) who are expected to be your academic referees will not write an outstanding reference on you except they are convinced that you are actually outstanding. This is because the reputation of a referee is at stake if the applicant he or she recommends falters. By extension, the process of getting a referee whose recommendation can land you a lecturing job starts from your undergraduate days. Ask relevant questions during lectures; attempt answering questions as well and don’t engage in any activity that can tarnish your image. This way, lecturers will know you to be a brilliant and well-behaved student, and they won’t hesitate to recommend you for a lecturing job when you need them to. This, however, is not to say that you won’t get a lecturing job if you don’t do all these as an undergraduate. You can use social media sites (Facebook, Twitter, Whatsapp, LinkedIn, etc) to do all the aforementioned. Become a friend of each lecturer you want to establish a relationship with; post academic-related updates always and comment on related posts. This way, you can earn their trust, and get them to write a recommendation on you when needed. With academic referees who can attest to your capability, you are on the verge of getting a lecturing job.
  • BE A LECTURER’S INTERN: If you are an undergraduate or a postgraduate student, speak to a lecturer in your department or in a related department (as in the case of English Language and English Education) on the possibility of working with him or her as a Research Assistant on a part-time or full-time basis, depending on your plan and schedule. This might not come with a regular payment but it will surely boost your chance of getting a lecturing job though not necessarily in the same institution where you do your internship. How? First, you get inducted into the academic world, as everything you do as a Research Assistant revolves around the academic field. Secondly, you learn the art of academic publication which itself is a major criterion used by interview panels to shortlist applicants. In addition, you get to know many lecturers who might be useful in one way or the other in your quest of becoming a lecturer. Lest I forget, these lecturers won’t be reluctant to write a good recommendation on you because they have known you beyond the lecture rooms.
  • NETWORK: Always get in touch with lecturers and authorities of institutions you consider suitable to work. You need to do this not because you want them to cover your inadequacies, but to know if there are job openings or if you can forward your CV ahead of job openings. At times, especially when a department wants to recruit one or two lecturers due to retirement or death of some lecturers, the department might decide to call on applicants whose CVs are on the waiting list or ask some lecturers to recommend people they consider apt for the jobs. This might not be preceded by an advertisement of vacancies to the general public. For this reason, network with appropriate people to move another step closer to securing a lecturing job.
  • SUBMIT A FANTASTIC CV: No stories. Submit a viable curriculum vitae suitable for a lecturing job. If possible, hire an expert to write your CV. A fantastic CV moves you closer to securing a lecturing job.
  • WOW THE INTERVIEW PANEL: This is the simplest but the most critical step. At the interview, you must prove that you are what your CV calls you, just as you must be the person your referees say you are. In short, you must demonstrate all the qualities that your CV and referees attribute to you. Having done these, sit back and await a congratulatory message from your institution.


Author: Ganiyu Saheed
Ganiyu Saheed Isola is a writer and an editor. He volunteers at United Nation's Online Volunteering as a writer and an editor.

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