Getting a job as a counsellor might not work for you if you just submit your CV and hope things will work out. Most organisations in Nigeria are not fully convinced of their need for a counsellor so will only hire one when there’s financial abundance.
You don’t want to be that staff that is present only when an organisation is in Luxury Mode, so how can you make yourself super valuable and make organisations beg you to become your staff?
I will be covering exactly that in this article.
How To Get A Job As A Counsellor or Therapist in Any Organisation in Nigeria
1. Choose your desired organisation
I have written another article where I highlighted 9 places you can work as a counselor or therapist in Nigeria. This is the first step to getting a job.
You need to determine which field you would like to work in and not just go for anything. If you want to go for just anything, this strategy will not work because it demands that you remain active throughout the process and take the job, not just accept one. So write a list of desired organisations around you where you like to work.
The organisation may not even have had a counselor before it doesn’t matter. You should choose a field you are a little bit familiar with. If you can relate with children, schools and correctional centres will be great. If you are more into marriages and relationships, magistrate courts and human rights organisations will be best.
2. Do some research about the organisation
After selecting your preferred organisation, the next step is not to go there or to even prepare your CV. The next step is to conduct some research about the organisation — what structures do they have on ground? What kind of cases do they handle? What are the problems they are facing there? (focus on this very well) Who are the big names in the organisation? and so on.
Get as much information as possible until it feels like you are already a staff of the organisation. You can search for them online and try to make friends with some of their staff. Don’t worry you can find their staff online (Facebook and LinkedIn). Let that staff know you are interested in working in their organisation and ask them for information they think you should know.
3. Develop a plan on how to contribute to the organisation
Now develop a strategy on what you will do to help them overcome the problem(s) you discovered during your research. For instance, if the IDP camp is having issues with refugees following the instructions of the officials, develop a well-written action plan you will take: programs you will organise, adjustments in structures to be made e.g dividing the camp into smaller sects, rewarding compliance with more food and better sleep in space, etc
Ensure you write down everything and the estimated time it will take to be completed. This will form part of your CV. Your CV is not just a generalized paper you send to any organisation; you have to craft your CV specifically for them and highlight skills you have that are relevant to the organisation.
4. Present yourself as a helper
Remember you are to get the names of top officers in the organisation. Now seek an opportunity to meet with them to provide them with useful information that can help the organisation become better.
With professionalism mixed with smart stressing, confidence, and favour, you should get an opportunity to speak to one of them.
When you get there, you are not looking for a job. You have only found a problem you are coming to help them solve. Explain the gravity of the problem to them and show them what you have neatly drafted in a printed document. This is now where you ask for a job.
I would like to request that you make me part of your team so I can help drive this mandate. I have turned down other offers because I have a sense of obligation to see to the advancement of this course (the problem you are solving).
5. Build a portfolio or pool of experience
You can sound very nice but if you don’t have experiences or some sort of previous engagement to show that you are truly committed to what you claim to be, your words will not be weighty.
You can state references of how you volunteered in an orphanage for three months and a series of talks you had in a secondary school and articles you have published on free sites like Medium on the subject.
Apart from volunteering for 3 months, the others are things you can do within 3 to 4 weeks. Approach any school and tell them your counsellor who wants to speak to the student and do it thrice. Write 3 to 5 articles showing your knowledge related to that problem or field maximum of one week and publish them. Add details of all of this to your CV.
6. Get extra certifications and join professional bodies
I am a fellow of the Occupational Therapist Association of Nigeria and we are focused on helping working professionals use work as a tool to help better their lives. This way both benefiting the organisation because staff work better and the staff who remain mentally efficient.
The reason you are doing this is to make them see you as someone who has choices and authority, not just someone struggling to make ends meet. Having you on their team will therefore be perceived as a blessing to them.
Never sound arrogant! You can still sell yourself without boasting. No matter how valuable you are, if you portray yourself as knowing more than everybody else, they will kick you out. Give them their honour and make them see that you need their help to be able to help them. You get right?
7. Never take no for an answer
After going through all of this stress, will you be accepted by the first organisation you approach? Well, I can’t say, but you’ll be in a better position than 80% of all the people the organisation has ever seen.
If you don’t get it in the first organisation, dust off and approach the next, following the same strategy.
I’ve had people, who I pitched but said no at first, call me back later on when they needed someone to do a task. They might not have room for you at the particular time you approach them but you have registered yourself as a go-to person if result is needed.
They can always link you to other opportunities. I would like to hear your story of how you got a job as a counsellor or therapist using this strategy.
Even if you didn’t get one, share your experience in the comments, make sure you come back and let others learn what you did or didn’t do right and what followed. (Who knows, you might even get an opportunity here.)
Olusegun Iyejare is career coach and certified counsellor. He helps entrepreneurs balance mental wellbeing and entrepreneurial success. Think about maximizing your potential or living a fulfilling life and Olusegun is your go to person.