Chiemelie Ezeobi writes that through their passion for connecting lives, a trio of young Nigerians at Jobberman, a job repository site, have transformed the link between job seekers and recruiters

Getting a job from the massive pool of job seekers chasing very few openings is, no doubt, a daunting task. The youth unemployment rate has continued to soar. For many job seekers, the major challenge is often knowing which company has an opening, and if they do, what qualifications they want. To bridge this yawning divide between recruiters and job seekers, Jobberman, a job repository site, was born.

The online platform seeks to connect lives across Africa. What they have done is to ensure a seamless transition for recruiters by narrowing down to the latter the qualifications sought by the company.

How does it work? Since the website is a repository of information for job seekers who must have signed in with their qualifications, the first move is made by the recruiter, who places an advert with Jobberman. It’s now the responsibility of Jobberman to match applicant and candidates that fit on their platform with the job requirement. The next step is that the recruiter gets CVs (up to five CV’s per shortlisted role) of shortlisted candidates to confirm they meet the criteria and then the recruiter schedules an interview. According to Jobberman, the recruiter has an 80 per cent guaranteed interview attendance.

Early Years

This impressive feat of innovation raises the question, how was Jobberman established?

Set up in 2009 by Olalekan Olude and his friends, Ayodeji Adewunmi and Opeyemi AwoyemI, young undergraduates at the Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, the company has certainly exceeded their imaginations. They have in their kitty over a million youths and 400 staff, who help in the seamless connection between recruiters and job seekers.

The company has so grown that two years ago, it was recognised by Facebook owner Mark Zuckerberg in a post on Facebook. In his glowing recommendations of the trio, Zuckerberg described them as examples of young Nigerians using digital technology to make impact across Africa.

For a site set up in their dormitory back in school at Obafemi Awolowo University to help connect people looking for work with companies looking to hire, it has today touched over 60,000 companies and helped millions of people to get their dream job. It has also conquered new markets in Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Angola, and Zimbabwe, all in a space of 10years.

Present State

Today, the website has become synonymous with credible online job applications in Nigeria. According to tech pundits, this is because the site operates a unique and user friendly outlay and still provides a wide range of job opportunities in almost every sector of the economy. Its rich repertoire boasts job opportunities for fresh graduates, mid-career personnel, and top executive positions. It was not surprising when it was recently rated the 8th tech start-up to watch in Africa this year by Forbes magazine.

It is also acclaimed as West Africa’s most popular job search engine, as it is currently the top choice for employers seeking to put information of vacant positions on the internet and for job seekers searching for new jobs.

Pursuit of Value

One of the trio, Olude, who as Group Chief Operating Officer of Jobberman, oversees and provides directions for the company’s operational and monetisation initiatives, said they were simply in pursuit of creating and adding value to the young lives of Africans. Aside being an alumnus of OAU, the Ogun State indigene is also an alumnus of The Wharton School, and University of Pennsylvania. Olude was responsible for the monetisation efforts of the group in new markets of Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Angola, and Zimbabwe.

Olude said: “Jobberman was born out of a desire to add value to lives. The biggest problem for every graduating student and a lot of graduates out there was and is still getting a job. We also saw what was happening in India with Naukri, a similar economy to Nigeria’s and we decided that if we really wanted to impact on millions of lives, then we had to work on the jobs problem.

“If we didn’t do it, it was going to be a problem we would have to face when we graduate. So we decided to solve it for others, providing a platform that makes it easy to find and apply for jobs in Nigeria.

“One other critical factor that fueled this motivation was easy access to internet in my school, Obafemi Awolowo University. A lot of great talent were unlocked during that time due to this. It’s one of the reasons I am bullish on infrastructure being a key to unlocking rapid growth and development.”

Challenges

Beside the challenge of constant updating of the server due to the growing number of page visitors, Olude spoke about other challenges faced by the recruitment site, saying, “In the early days, the biggest challenge we had was getting jobseekers and employers to trust Jobberman. This was the early days of internet companies in Nigeria. Anything online at the time was labelled as fraud. It took us a while to change that perception – today you find everyone using technology in one way or the other even in rural and remote communities.

“Another challenge we faced is the relative lack of knowledge on the part of young jobseekers. Most youth do not know what it takes to be employable because our educational systems have not evolved to handhold students to become employable graduates or entrepreneurial graduates.

“Jobberman has been working tirelessly to change that and because of our efforts we have placed over 500,000 people in jobs since inception. All of this is good news as we need all the help possible to ensure our institutions provide graduates that can hit the ground running.”

Sieving Scam Recruiters

As expected with such an online venture, scam recruiters have often tried to penetrate the network to lure unsuspecting job seekers. To this, Olude admitted that there were instances where recruiters’ details given out on their website turn out to be false.

He stated, “We have had our fair share of scammers trying to leverage on our platform to take advantage of the desperation of unsuspecting Nigerians.

“We have constantly continued to develop strategies on how to ensure that scammers do not get a chance to either access the platform or use it. We verify companies, blacklist offenders, and also provide tools for jobseekers to report bad/fake companies.

“Companies with suspicious email addresses are automatically flagged. We have also enlisted the support of law enforcement agents and we have reported lots of fraudsters to the police and EFCC.”

Curbing Unemployment

On what should be done to fight the ticking time bomb called youth unemployment in Nigeria, Olude said: “Crisis is an understatement. However If we can match more people to available jobs, we would be reducing the unemployment gap. So the real question is how do we make more jobs available?

“We need the policies both at the federal and state government levels to be pro-business. With a pro-business government, you create more jobs locally, attract more investments and create more industries.

“We need government to be intentional about bringing in companies that can hire a lot of Nigerians here. Early this year, Jobberman helped a foreign technology company to place 400 people with over a thousand more opportunities in Q1/Q2 2019. If I were in government, a core focus would be to drive more of these kinds of initiatives. As these new jobs are sourced and created, Extensive training to match these jobs need to start happening to ensure that companies also become more productive.”

Skill Acquisition

On the need for youths to be skilled he added, “We also need to help more youths become entrepreneurial – with high demand skills locally and abroad. There has been a recent spate of Nigerians emigrating to Europe and Canada through dangerous routes. We need to train Nigerian youth en masse in high demand skills so that these countries will be pleading to have our skilled people not the other way round. If China and India has perfected this, we can do the same too.

“I would love to see more use of technology in helping government manage the ecosystem called Nigeria. A lot more use of technology in data gathering, trend and predictive analysis, revenue generation and our ability to project and forecast on the things we should be doing.

“I also see technology as a key tool to reduce corruption and also enhance service delivery across board. Needless to say, this would entail a lot of investment and education but I strongly believe for our long term sustainability, we need to do this.”

Hope for Ogun

Olude added that Ogun State, where he comes from, had the potential to catch up with Lagos tech ecosystem. “I believe so. Lagos for one is already an expensive place to live in and once you realize that the only thing a tech company needs to succeed is an ecosystem: good academic institutions, ready to learn youth,and good access to fast internet/Infrastructure, then you can quickly see that Ogun State can match Lagos like for like in this regard,” he said.

Olude explained, “If you look at Silicon Valley, it extends beyond San Francisco itself to its neighbouring cities like Palo Alto, San Jose and Cupertino. Ogun fits all of that and has the land and environment to make a Silicon Valley and a better quality of life. Ogun State’s proximity to Lagos makes for easy access to foreign investors and professionals. That proximity also allows for any company/Business structure in Lagos to set up back office, development team, strategy, manufacturing, warehouse to run from Ogun.

“With the rail system and a mass transit system coming up along the corridor, Ogun is the new get-away location to the stress and combustion in Lagos. This not only applies to technology, it applies to every industry from transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and so on. I believe Ogun should not strive to be Lagos; Ogun can be everything Lagos needs to be sustainable. We will feed Lagos and the rest of the country.”

He continued: “It seems to me like we have just scratched the surface. Are there things that we would like to do that we have not done? Yes, a whole lot. I am clear about my calling, which is helping people have a better and meaningful life. It keeps me awake, keeps me motivated, and keeps me going. Jobs are a very powerful tool to make lives better. Its impact is generational – parents, children, relatives of people who get better jobs, and the communities they live, all benefit. I am hoping to use the Jobberman platform to help grow other initiatives and movements with the similar goal of making life better.”