Graduate unemployment has been a phenomenon that I have never understood. When I started my national service 2 years ago, I realized that there were jobs in Ghana. It’s just that the companies didn’t have enough money to pay several people to specialize in each job. So most of them paid one person to do about 3 jobs. Nearing the end of my national service and confused about which career path to choose, I wasn’t really afraid of not working for a company.
In my interactions with people, I realized that most people called themselves unemployed because they didn’t have a standard 8-5 job or work in a company that pays them a salary at the end of each month. If you are not being lazy, then I doubt unemployed should be a term you use in describing yourself.
A lot of young graduates have no idea what freelance is, talk less of being freelancers. But that’s the opportunity that comes with our times. We’ve left the era of sending millions of applications and walking up and down several days attending interviews and getting no jobs. These days, as graduates, we have the wherewithal to change our own narrative. There are millions of opportunities to start your own business, freelance or even consult. You can’t just hang around at home, eat your mom’s food and keep tagging yourself as unemployed.
If you’re serious about changing your narrative from an unemployed graduate to an employed graduate, consider these 3 key points.
1. Keep an open mind
During the days leading to the end of my national service, I faced some issues with deciding whether to stay or leave my workplace. At a point, the graduate training program I had eyes on didn’t pick me. That was after going all the way to the last level. I started asking friends, relatives, my network etc. for job recommendations.
All of this happened despite the fact that I’d made a lot of progress with freelance work and had an offer to do something I hadn’t been trained in school for. I had natural talent and experience for this job, but because it wasn’t in line with the computer science I studied at school, I was still looking for options.
Don’t box yourself into a certain career or company. Which will mean that once you don’t get that company, you stay at home, unemployed. Pick yourself up, keep an open mind and walk around with a ready to learn spirit. You will get advice from people who obviously have been where you are, but don’t listen to most of those. You’d mostly be asked to write more applications. Shake yourself from your ideal reality, face the actual reality and make something out of it.
I always say that if I don’t get a job, I’ll go sell fried yam. It makes my friends laugh, but I’m usually serious. Because I have a degree, exposure, mentors and a thriving network, I believe my fried yam business will fare very differently from others. Need I say more?
2. Have a problem-solving mentality and attitude
I learned recently that one of the places money hides is in problems. Look, there are several problems and pain points all around you. Most of which you don’t need capital in the form of cash to bring solutions to. A quote I recently committed to heart said: “the biggest capital is your brain, experience, and network”.
As a graduate, you have gained skills, networks, experience and expertise that the average person on the street doesn’t have. The only difference that will show that you’re learned is your ability to solve the pain points of the average person.
Food vendors, pharmacies etc. in your local area usually don’t have accounting systems or bookkeeping systems. Others haven’t realized who their actual target market is, even though they’ve been selling for years. Yet for others, their problem is with scaling and meeting the increasing needs of their increasing clients.
Are you telling me you lack the tools, skills, experience, and expertise to help these people out? Even with your constant presence on social media and your ability to research the internet for news items, entertainment or assignment solutions?
Stop dreaming and start living. Start from where you are. Identify a problem around you and make an effort to provide a solution that is better, faster and cheaper. Before you know it, you would have moved from an unemployed graduate to a self-employed graduate and entrepreneur without going through rigorous training in any company per se.When you provide people with value, they in turn value you. Click To Tweet
3. Use your time properly
For most supposed unemployed graduates, their whole day is spent searching one job site to the other. Sometimes even applying for jobs that they have absolutely no interest in. You just want to have a job at all cost, isn’t it?
Cut down the time used in searching for jobs. Spend time rather developing yourself. The amount of time you spend brushing over your CV and sending your CV, school certificates et al to companies can be used in developing yourself.
One field that is gradually rising and growing quickly is web/mobile apps development and digital marketing, the commonest form being social media marketing. You like scrolling on Instagram, but have you ever thought of understanding the algorithms used to push only relevant ads your way? Have you thought about how you can maximise your interests in social media to establish some semblance of employment for yourself?
Attend events, network, speak to people, learn how to brand yourself and sell yourself. Sometimes, what employers, investors or business partners buy is the individual, not necessarily all you claim you can do. Stop brushing up and editing your paper resume. Go out there and learn about industry standards, listen to pain points being addressed by others, meet new people and offer them value. Perchance through one of the interactions, you may get the job your soul so desires.
Don’t let the salary mindset keep you bound. Learn, unlearn and re-learn whilst you have your 8-5 to yourself. Some people wish they could buy yours but they can’t, cause in the bid to be employed, they sold their integrity and passion. Finally, pursue your passions, volunteer and add value to yourself. You’ll realize that once you begin adding value to yourself and appearing in the right places, your days of graduate unemployment will be over.
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