Nigeria was recently ranked as the “sixth most miserable country in the world” (out of 95 countries surveyed) by an annual Misery Index 2018 published by Forbes. Every year, Steve Hanke, an American Professor of Applied Economics at the John Hopkins University in the United States and Forbes contributor, releases his annual Misery Index.
The Misery Index is used to determine how economically well off the citizens of a country are. It looks at unemployment, inflation and bank lending rates across the world. “The human condition inhabits a vast continuum between “miserable” and “happy.” In the sphere of economics, misery tends to flow from high inflation, steep borrowing costs and unemployment.” Steve Hanke
Unemployment is one of life’s most challenging events; it’s impact can be felt physically, psychologically, emotionally, professionally and of course, financially. Here are a few tips to help you cope with unemployment.
Cut back on expenses
A budget is a good tool at anytime but particularly when your regular source of income is compromised. It is important to closely examine how you spend your money so that you can cut back on your expenses beyond necessities.
Don’t ignore your debt
Contact your creditors and tell them your situation. They may be able to modify the payment terms to a more manageable option.
Don’t be embarrassed and keep to yourself. 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. Communities such as your church or alumni association, professional bodies etc as well as on-line communities provide excellent opportunities to connect with others, many people rely on word of mouth to find the right people, so everyone you know needs to know you are looking for a job. You need to be out and about and engaged in activities to keep you energized. It is usually on one of such outings that your next lead comes. If you sit at home moping all day, nothing will happen and opportunities will pass you by.
Dedicate a few of hours each day to your job search. Structure the time for looking for adverts, sending out your CV, contacting people etc. Of course there will be many dead ends or leads that lead nowhere. Remember like in any sales role, you need persistence; in this case you are selling yourself.
Learn new skills
This “downtime” could well be a perfect opportunity for new learning that could make you more marketable. Are there some important skills that you need in order to improve your prospects? Do you have the skills to get to where you want to be? It’s tempting to start rushing off to do yet another degree or course. Equip yourself with practical skills that are needed in today’s workforce. Meeting new people on your course also expands your network.
Volunteering can have a positive impact in the job search. Even if it doesn’t come with pay, it does come with personal and social benefits. Doing good feels good, so volunteering will lift your spirits, give you a sense of purpose and help your self-esteem. Then there is the added benefit of new skill sets and an enhanced CV. Strong performance in a volunteering role can lead to a permanent role either with the same firm or from referrals or contacts that that came through the role.
Your CV often provides the first impression that an prospective employer has of you. There is nothing more exasperating for an employer than to have the misfortune of reading a badly written CV full of grammatical and typographical errors. Prepare your CV and proof read it very carefully; there are many good online samples and tips to guide you. The worst thing you can do is to pretend to be what you are not. Be honest or your will be caught out; even if you are hired initially, you will soon be fired.
Be prepared for the interview
If you are one of the tiny percentage of those that get to the interview stage, be prepared. Find out about the company you are interviewing with. Do your homework. What value can you add? Are there problems you think you can solve? Prepare questions that you wish to ask. There are literally thousands of people looking for work; what makes you unique? Why should they hire you? Arrive early so you aren’t flustered.
Don’t despair. No matter how many rejections you’ve had, try to remain positive. Employers receive literally thousands of CVs for a small number of places. It’s nothing personal; there are just so many to go through so they will not respond to all of them. It’s easier said than done but you just have to move on from the latest disappointment and towards the next opportunity. If you are down, dejected, or depressed, it will show, and sadly this reduces your prospects even further. An employer wants to hire a positive, energized, enthusiastic candidate.
Physical and emotional health
Stress, anxiety and despair will affect your state of mind as well as your physical health. Make an extra effort to stave off stress with a healthy diet, regular exercise and enough sleep. You have the time now to give this greater focus so put a proper regime in place; it will put you in a much better frame of mind and get you fit and ready for your next role.
Your dream job may not come just yet, so don’t be fixated on this. Be prepared to accept a role that may not necessarily meet your expectations when you consider your qualifications, expertise, experience or status. Consider part time, contract work or a consultancy role. There are literally millions of people looking for jobs even as new graduates join an already lengthy queue. If you are offered something that you can do well, accept it so that at least you are earning whilst you continue your search.
Uncover your skills, talents, and passions
What do you love to do? What do you enjoy doing? This is the time to look inwards; reflect on your skills, talents, those things that you do effortlessly but have never leveraged on or thought of monetizing. Have you ever explored your entrepreneurial side? Can you teach, can you bake, sew? Are you a good photographer? Do you find it easy to fix things? Are you an expert with social media? Are you tech savvy? Many people are trying to bring a small business idea to life; can you assist with writing business plans?
Reflect on the possibilities and you will find that there is some solution that you can provide. People will pay for solutions. This may just be the impetus you need to follow your passion, and bring that dream to life.
Build in some fun
Schedule activities that are inexpensive, engaging and fun. Abandoned hobbies, books you never had the time to read, on line learning are all ways to add value to yourself whilst reducing the pressure of the situation you find yourself in. Try to enjoy this time; remember how much we all crave down time when we are working.
You can survive and thrive
Whilst being unemployed is one of life’s most challenging events, it can also come with huge opportunities if you remain positive, proactive and are able to seize the moment. Your time of unemployment can be a time of growth and purpose. With focus, determination, support and a positive mindset, you can survive and even thrive.
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