How To Find Competent Staff To Grow Your Business in Nigeria

How to find competent staff for your business in Nigeria

In our most recent annual business survey, we asked business owners in Nigeria about the main challenges their businesses face. At the top of the list was the difficulty in finding the right personnel and staff.

Finding the right staff is possibly one of the biggest competitive assets you’d have in your business in Nigeria. The team members that will remain dedicated to executing your business objectives are the key to driving business growth in a very dynamic market.

Finding the right candidates in a large market can be very intimidating, and sometimes frustrating, but we are here to share a few tips on how to effectively find the right staff for your organization.

We have broken the process down into three phases: pre-search, search & screen, and post-interview.

Pre-Search – Defining Requirements For Staff

Create clear job descriptions

Start by creating a very clear job description that outlines the job that needs to be done. The design of your job description should begin with you detailing and outlining the day-to-day tasks that need to be completed. Then match each one of those tasks to the skill required to get it accomplished.

For instance, if you need to hire a sales manager, outline the typical day of the manager you are looking to hire such as monitoring sales activities and budgets, managing a team of sales agents, reporting to the business owner, building relationships with key accounts. Once you have the daily activities in mind, then you can create the requirements for your sales manager.

The value of building out a well-thought-out job description is that it gives you a clear framework that you can use to decide your desired competencies from the staff you want to hire.

Outline the desired competencies

Once you are clear on the tasks that you want your prospective staff to engage in, your next task is to figure out what the desired competencies of an ideal candidate are to perform this role successfully in your organization.

The competencies could be technical skill sets, years of experience, educational background. It could also include “soft skills” such as critical thinking, attention to detail, good communication skills, friendliness, assertive, or entrepreneurial spirit. These competencies will be tailored to the requirements of your organization.

“Defining required competencies is integral in Nigeria because of the fundamental flaw in our education-to-employment pipeline. Our education system teaches students academic theory and neglects practical instructions and the development of industry-relevant skills….Prioritizing competencies in the hiring process instead of using qualifications as a proxy for skills, is the only way to recruit candidates who can perform the real-life tasks that we require of them in order to meet our business goals”

Misan Rewane, CEO WAVE

Be clear on your employee value prop

It is also very important at this stage to get clear on your company’s value proposition to prospective employees. Here is where you focus on your mission and values. Finding your ideal candidate in the marketplace is a match-making process. There’s a good chance that the strong candidate that you are very excited about is also being courted by other organizations for the exact same reason you are interested in them.

Know what makes your company different. The type of culture that is fostered within your organization and align that with the type of candidates you are looking for. Be sure to communicate that value clearly from the beginning.

Searching & Screening

Begin wide but targeted search

Your next step is to search for your new staff. Post the job description and availability so that you can start getting candidates in the door to go through your screening process. The goal here is to get this job in front of as many candidates that match your ideal description without getting overwhelmed with a swarm of unfit candidates.

Here are some channels to post your job description

  • If you have a good personal and professional network, start there. Getting referrals from your network increases your chances of getting strong applicants. Posting the job on your LinkedIn profile and other business forums can also give you promising leads.
  • Post the job description on job boards and forums such as Workable, Jobberman.
  • If you do not have a strong network to share your job description with, you might want to consider getting professional help by hiring a recruitment agency. You can work closely with the recruitment agent to co-design the hiring process. This will give you the level of input you desire, while the agent focuses on bringing the right candidates in the door.

Screen staff for competencies over credentials

Once you start getting applicants, you want to go through your screening process. Remember that you are prioritizing their competency over their credentials. Develop a screening process to funnels your future ideal staff through your hiring process. Here are some tips on how to screen:

  • Utilize pre-qualifying screeners: Do this to quickly shortlist candidates. This could be one or two test questions, relevant to the competency you desire, included in the application or sent right after the application is completed. The response to these pre-qualifying questions can help you quickly eliminate candidates you believe do not match your requirements.
  • Set up phone interviews: You can skip this step completely and go straight to the in-person interview. However, if you want another level of filtering, a short phone interview can help you understand whether the candidate will be a good fit to move on to the next stage.
  • In-person interviews: This is the main opportunity to screen the candidates, that have made it this far, for the skills, traits, and competencies you require. In this face-to-face setting, you want to gauge how the prospective staff thinks, how they treat people, and how clearly they communicate their thoughts. What each organization is interviewing for will vary. You’d know best as to what you are searching for since you have already defined the competencies required for the job in your first step.

Post Interview

Create the right incentives

Hopefully, at this stage, you have found a few candidates that you are very excited about. If you don’t have at least one candidate, then you might have to adjust your initial expectations, focus on what needs to be tweaked and start the process again.

Your next step is to present the applicants with a compelling offer to join your team. Here is another opportunity to highlight the value that they’d get from joining your organization. Besides that, make sure you have done your homework beforehand to know what a competitive compensation package for that position looks like.

By creating the right incentives, you’d be attracting the right staff to your team. Depending on how time-critical the role is, make sure you are clear and set a deadline for how long the offer is valid for.


If you have reached this stage – then congratulations on your new hire. You have found the right staff to help you execute the daily tasks needed to hit your business-critical objectives. Your job, however, does not end with hiring. It is your job to make sure you set up your new hire for success and longevity. Make sure you develop the right systems to onboard new staff. Continue to improve this system, so that you have a repeatable and easy-to-understand system as you hire more people.

Once your new hire is settled in, focus on their continuous education and improvement. By providing the right guidance and training, you improve the effectiveness of your staff and increase your chances of retaining them in a market where personnel and staff turnover is relatively high. So make sure you focus on their continued improvement.

Hiring staff in Nigeria

Finding the right personnel and staff for your business in Nigeria could be a challenge but you don’t have to make common time-wasting mistakes to find the right people to help you grow your business.

Define your desired competencies, search for candidates through appropriate channels, have a structured screening process, develop an enticing incentive package, and focus on training and continued skill development of your hires. These tips will help you build up an effective hiring process needed to find the right personnel to grow your business.

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