Thousands of young Nigerians are unemployed. After the grandeur of graduation ceremonies, the bachelors and masters degrees, and the troublesome NYSC, nothing turns out as expected. It could be a while before one secures a job. Until it comes, how does one survive?
Here are a few survival tips to keep you going while unemployed:
Calculate Your Income
Do you have any savings? How much do you spend every month on necessities? Divide that total into several months of “income,” that is the amount you need to live on each month. Of course, you don’t know for how long you will be without a job, so create income for about a year.
Create a Budget
When you have a reliable source of income, it is easy to ignore where all your money goes; another pay cheque will be in soon. Knowing what your money is being spent on, is the first step to cutting back on non-essentials without a drastic loss in your quality of life.
Review your Debt
Just because you aren’t earning doesn’t mean you should ignore your obligations. Prioritize what needs to be paid first. Try to pay a little something on each bill. Don’t avoid creditors; it’s the worst thing to do. Approach them and tell them your challenges; they may be prepared to reschedule payments or even write some of it off if you are lucky.
Network, Network, Network!
“Your network is your net-worth.” This is not the time to withdraw from your circles. Your network, including your immediate family, relatives, friends, colleagues, former clients, and business contacts, matter now more than ever. Everyone needs to know that you are in the job market. If you don’t have a profile on LinkedIn, create one and start networking on this powerful platform.Don’t cut off. Continue to socialize. Too much time alone can be isolating and lead to depression. Look for cheaper ways to socialise.
Are there some important skills you need in order to improve your prospects? Do you have the skills to get you to where you want to be? Now, don’t rush off to do the first Masters or PhD program you get admission for; I mean practical skills that all companies need such as IT or digital marketing skills. Consider doing it now and you will be better equipped with a skill set for your next job.
Volunteering can have a positive impact on your job search. It may not always lead to paid work, but it certainly does come with benefits. Volunteering will give you a sense of fulfilment. It will also enhance your personal skill set, introduce new knowledge and keep you in contact with people.
Perfect your CV
There is nothing more exasperating for a prospective employer than to have the misfortune of reading a CV full of grammatical and typographical errors. Prepare your CV and proofread it very carefully; there are many good online samples and tips to guide you. Do not pretend to be what you are not; you will be caught out. Your online presence matters; potential employees will look you up. It is so easy to jeopardise your prospects with inappropriate language, messaging or imagery.
If you are one of the tiny percentage of those who get to secure an interview, you owe it to yourself to be prepared. If you don’t know anything about the company you are interviewing with, it could be embarrassing. Do your research. What value can you add? Look for problems to solve. Prepare questions that you wish to ask. There are literally thousands of people looking for work. What makes you unique?
Don’t be too fixated on getting your dream job. Be prepared to accept a role that may not necessarily meet your expectations when you consider your qualifications, expertise, or your experience; this will tide you over while you continue the search.
Part-time, temporary, or contract work are ways of getting you employed. Some employers are looking for someone to work for just a few weeks or months; others may have part-time opportunities; such offers may eventually turn to actual long-term contracts or indeed full-time employment. You may also offer any special skills on a consultancy basis, whilst you scout for a more permanent role.
Earning as much as you can now will help you get through this period with fewer financial scars. You will also be gaining new skills and experience and preventing gaps in your CV which employers tend to frown at. But don’t neglect the job search or preparation for some challenging interviews.
Health is Wealth
Stressful life events can overwhelm a person’s ability to cope; this can lead to depression. Particularly if you are stressed or anxious, your health can be badly affected; a healthy diet and exercise is important for a sound mind and body. Use this time to put a proper regimen in place. It will put you in a much better frame of mind.
What Can You Do to Earn Extra Income?
This is the time to search inwards at your skills, talents, those things that you do effortlessly but have never leveraged on or thought of monetizing. Can you teach, can you bake, sew, take photographs, put your car on the road, rent out a room if you have space? Do you find it easy to fix things? Are you a social media expert? Everyone needs someone with tech skills. Many people are trying to bring a small business idea to life; can you assist with writing business plans? What solutions can you provide? People pay for solutions.
Unemployment is one scenario that makes the need for emergency savings, glaring. If you have no savings, make this a priority once you’re back on your feet, immediately start preparing for the next possible emergency. Try to save up three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund.
Even if it takes you more than six months to find another job, you can often stretch that savings and a part-time job to a year or more. As soon as you can, start saving money again for the next emergency.
Yes, you have already sent your CV to over 100 companies and interviewed with 22. Many will not even acknowledge your CV; it’s nothing personal. They’ve simply had so many to go through. Dust off the disappointment as quickly as you can and stay focused on the next opportunity. If you are down and dejected, it shows; employers are attracted to upbeat, enthusiastic, positive people.
Unemployment is one of life’s most challenging events, but it can also come with opportunities if you remain calm, proactive, focused and prepared to seize opportunities. This may just be the impetus you need to follow your passion; that dream and bring it to life. Who knows? You may soon be walking through the door of your own business and creating jobs.
Credit: Nimi Akinkugbe