Unemployment defined, refers to a situation where individuals with employable skills are actively seeking employment but are not able to secure any. This could even go further and take a strict form, which includes the section of the workforce not in appropriate jobs, based on their career paths and professional experience.
A good economy should be moving towards full employment. Whereas it is impossible to achieve a 0% unemployment rate, labour economists agree on what is technically referred to as the natural rate of unemployment. The natural rate of unemployment represents the acceptable lowest unemployment rate, which economists agree on at 4% to 5%. Many economies are not able to achieve this and those that can really put in their efforts together. I will however leave the technicalities to economists and policymakers since unemployment affects everyone, even non-economists.
In one of the occasions of digressing during lectures, senior professors tell about their prime days in a way that is unreal to our time. I remember one of my professors telling us that they were being sought after by organizations and companies with one year to graduation. Prospective graduates were booked by organizations as they got to their final years. This looks like mythology to a millennial, who has sent CVs everywhere and is still awaiting a response five years after being given powers to read, write, and practice all that pertains to their profession. Times have changed and most people are not able to secure jobs as it has been in the past, and there is no hope that it will be any better in the future. This is not because of pessimism, but the reality is surely foreboding. The COVID-19 pandemic has rendered many jobless, and many more are losing out. We must not pretend anymore. It is time to accept that jobs are indeed extremely meagre. The scarcity, however, gives us no reason to lie down and die. Bills have to be paid.
The big question now lies on the ‘how to’. How can we swim out of the pool of unemployment, Away from its very deep end? How can we navigate the turbulent waters which, as a go-between, is promising and threatening? The following tidbits can help us be in a better place to survive in this pool that has wreaked havoc in the lives of many:
It is as simple as you see it. I mean academic excellence. There is a popular wave that graduating magna cum laude does not guarantee employment. This is true, but not sufficient, for they forgot to say that dismal performance doesn’t either. You need to give your best in whichever program you are pursuing. There are opportunities that only top performers can qualify for. There are great scholarship opportunities that require a given grade point aggregate(GPA). Don’t be deceived to jump below your level, under the presumption that excellence means nothing. There is less competition at the top because only a few people have the discipline to be at the top. Take your academics seriously and perform well in classwork.
Invest in Meaningful connections.
It is almost a common saying that your network determines your net worth. This is very true and it is in no way asking you to be corrupt. Corruption is not a meaningful connection. While a student, get involved in co-curricular activities. Don’t be a lecture hall-library-hostel student. Get involved in clubs. Don’t think it a waste of time if your campus organises career week and such like talk forums. Do as much internship as is possible before you graduate. Invest in soft skills. Work on your interpersonal relationship. Maintain meaningful friendships. Be a good team player in your discussion group that your colleagues cannot think of a better team player. The same people who know you, can recommend you for positions of trust, or warn organisations from making the mistake of enlisting a flop in their team. These connections may prove a soft landing spot for you after campus.
Change your focus.
There is something that all employment seekers should never forget—the fact that no one is looking out for people to employ. In fact, most high-net-worth organizations will pay more to find how they can maintain their production without employing you. Instead, people have problems that need to be solved. Once their problems are solved, they have no other choice but to consider your quotation. Young graduates should realize it is time to stop looking for jobs, instead focus on identifying problems and coming up with relevant solutions. Job seekers are many, but problem solvers are too few. If you can find a way of making an organization need you, you will never tarmac. Haven’t you seen people who get out of one job, and the following day they are announced by another world-class organization?
If you sack Jose Mourinho today, the following day another giant club will announce him as the new manager. Larry Madowo gets out of BBC North America, and he is working with CNN Africa. These cases look too good to be true. The secret is not in the said organizations, but in the individuals—they have something to offer that you don’t easily come across.
You can try swimming in this pool now. I am not promising that it is going to be a walk in the park, but you can be in a better position of navigating its currents while keeping these golden lessons in mind.