So we just had a new set of corp members joining the labour market like a month ago and another set preparing to join by next month! It’s quite alarming how we see ex-corpers still roaming the streets even a year after passing out! Some boldly come out to lament about the poor state of the economy and sit in their parents’ house waiting for the government to drop jobs on their laps! But they forget that they are no longer “government property” and so shouldn’t expect them to go back to spoon feeding you. As you pass out, you are no longer an “otondo” but a fresh job seeker or even an employer of labour already. No more parades, early morning wake up calls, drills, PPA or CDS. You might have lived a life of bliss or discomfort during your service to your fatherland but at this point there are so many decisions to make, but very limited options for you to choose from. Now your parents, siblings, friends etc are probably waiting for the next big announcement from you. A wedding, new employment or project, a secured deal, big contract or relocation.
In all this noise, the big question now is, What next?
For some the question can be answered immediately, while others take a year or more to find a suitable answer.
While you ponder on your future to determine how to survive in a country like ours, here are amazing tips that would help you as a ex-corper find your feet and stand out from others:
1. Build A Network Of Friends:
In this society where “connections” thrive, think of relationships and friendships cultivated and built as investments, the rewards will come sooner than you think. You would be surprised that your first set of clients would be your former classmates or fellow ex-corpers. Most corpers forget the purpose of the national youth service scheme, which is mainly to bring Nigerian youths together from different tribes and backgrounds to share ideas, learn, become more exposed and mix. For these reasons, it is good you maximize the opportunity and try to make friends wherever you find yourself; you will be surprised at what some will turn out to be in the future. And the social media has made it easy for you to always keep in touch. If possible, start a forum with your friends to share job updates and join an email list, whatsapp or Facebook group to get career leads.
But be careful and choose your friends wisely, better still, classify them in your database as close friends, acquaintances, future clients or soon-to-be deleted. Its good to take pictures and exchange contact information because they act as reminder of great moments shared and can be of good use later.
2. Send Out Applications Early:
Send out your CVs to as many companies as possible. There is no harm in trying, you might get lucky. Don’t send only to companies in big cities (Lagos, Portharcourt or Abuja) but include those in the area you were posted to and other places you can easily relocate to. Don’t wait till the final rush after the passing out parade or have hope that you will be retained in your place of primary assignment. Even if you do get retained, there is no shyness when you are making other plans or seeking for a better living! Leave your comfort zone, relate more, use your smart phones to your own advantage and tell all your friends, family members and colleagues what you are in need of. Don’t just trust an “Uncle” high up who has always been promising you a job just after you finish school. You don’t want to feel disappointed afterwards if he does not pull through. Also, if you are self-employed and seek patronage, your close ones will possibly be your first set of clients, your mouth piece and free advert board. Try to engage their help.
3. Always Have A Plan B:
It’s alright if you want to work for an oil company, a big multinational or get a recording deal worth millions. That’s your first choice right, but have an alternative plan or a plan for a worst case scenario. These are trying times, it not just a race of survival of the fittest but also of the smartest and it is only those who are fast and smart that really do survive. Nowadays, your success can no longer be determined by how many “links” or “First-class degrees” you have but by how you can successfully manage what you have and put them to use at the right time. If your dream job is not coming through yet, take another one and hold on till you get it. You can volunteer in your local community or consider selling something either on behalf of yourself or others. Whatever your passion lies in, do it while you consider waiting for the job. At the end, it’s another experience added to your resume. Besides, employers no longer like to see CVs with gaps unaccounted for. It can show that you have no ambition and can take no initiative.
4) Be Professional And Act Professional:
Your status has changed and you are no longer an undergraduate spoon-fed by parents and lecturers. You are an adult now expected to take responsibility for his actions or inactions. What will make you standout from others and have an edge is you getting your acts together. Have a resume and cover letter professionally written and keep it handy. Have a softcopy too (in your mail, cloud or phone). You may not have to hire writers, you can write one yourself, after all there are loads of samples online, but have a professional review it, to help correct errors or check its presentation. First impression matters, your resume should advertise you properly without you being physically present to defend yourself. If you need help with your CV or cover letter, you can visit www.dreamjobs.ng/cv-servicesto get professional assistance.
When called for an interview or business presentation dress suitably and don’t forget you confidence. Also, your social media profiles can be used to judge you. Employers now take time to study a potential client through his social media accounts. They can easily detect your habits and have a good perception of who you are. So be careful what you post online for the world to see!
4) Upgrade And Reinvent Yourself:
Learning is always a continuous process and as long as your brain is working, put it to better use. Many fail to get their dream jobs or clinch the business deals for lack of preparation, poor planning and inadequate knowledge.
Some ways to upgrade yourself can be getting a masters degree, been professionally certified in a field you need, joining a relevant body or association, attending conferences, seminars or events that would have top and knowledgeable people speaking, been identified with a skill and developing it (it may turn out to be profitable later), subscribing to job magazines, blogs or websites online, attending job fairs, workshops, seminars and trainings, improving your experience and networking with other professionals. Some events are free to attend so seize the opportunity to gain more exposure and there you can even get to meet potential employers one on one and make an application in person.
5. Remember You Are Not Alone:
Don’t ever feel desperate or frustrated when things aren’t going as planned. Let’s do a little maths! Do you remember how many other corpers attended the passing out parade with you? Multiply the answer by 36 (states), add other batches/streams in your year and note down the number. Now, check other unemployed graduates from previous sets and other job seekers who are non-graduates then subtract a small fraction of those who are gainfully employed either earning above or below minimum wage. You will be amazed at the statistics you come up with.
So don’t for a moment think it’s only happening to you, but if you have a will to survive, you will surely come out stronger and have a success story to tell. Don’t compromise on your values, sell your body, join scammers, robbers or be a desperado. It only leads to regrets and ruin later. Read biographies and success stories of others and be encouraged. Water will always find its own level. Move and relate with only those who can add value to you and set a target to achieve it.
6. Set Your Priorities Right:
Take a moment to think what is the most important factor influencing your final decision. Your present age, interests, location, marital status, financial resources or government policies are some factors to be analyzed when considering the next big step. In cases where the jobs offered come with age restrictions, set limits on how high you can climb in the industry hierarchy, frowned on by your spouse, requires much traveling, or its security is determined by government rules, would you be willing to settle for less or take it no matter the consequences? Consider your options well and think deeply before you get yourself engaged to avoid inconsistency. If paid jobs aren’t ideal for you, try out freelancing or self-employment.
true, no one can dictate how you live your life, or live it for you. But always carry those who matter to you or can influence your decision along in the decision making process. It’s also good to have moral if not financial support during your “waiting” period. Don’t be consumed by excesses, have a time frame, set targets, check mails regularly, but don’t spend all day online (if it is not profiting you), eat well, exercise, relax and have a social life. Seek counsel, keep a circle of friends who are ready to encourage you, read motivational books, listen to inspiring speakers, the right solution is usually within reach waiting for a word to make it come alive.
7. Don’t Fall A Victim:
Remember your personal data is out there for scammers and never-do-wells to use for their evil purposes. It will be so unfortunate that in your quest for a better life, you get scammed or hood-winked into shady deals too. There have been reported cases of individuals/companies promising heaven on earth jobs and lucrative deals. They sound so convincing, you will almost believe them, but be careful, you can only fall prey if you are desperate or greedy. Avoid all get rich quick network schemes if it looks suspicious. Watch out for scam job sites, or those texts and emails inviting you for numerous interviews you know nothing about or those asking you to pay money before offering you jobs. Some even ask for commissions on salaries. Most of them are dupes and can even appear as adverts in major newspapers. Only trust recommended job sites and verify the companies before applying of going for interview. Use Google or ask around from friends or colleagues, if possible get inside information.
8. Have A Budget And Save:
It’s never too late to start saving. During your service year, you would have tried that. If you didn’t, start saving from now. But a better option would have been during your service. It may be your saving grace later. The amount saved can be enough to hold you in the trying times or start a new business. After service, you can also start saving the little you can. Little drops make a pool of water and if possible you can have multiple streams of income till you land the one job you desire. Live responsibly, don’t be an extravagant spender or eat your future with both hands. Now is not the time to live recklessly or show off except your father is an oil baron or powerful politician (even if). Once you have a secured source of income, you can squander it if you want to, but a financially responsible life gives one less headaches.
9. Always Follow Your Passion, Not The Money:
If you look around, you’ll be surprised how many successful makeup artists nowadays are also engineers or how many professional lawyers turned photographers or bankers turned popular comedians! It’s not always what you studied or did not study. The most important advice you will ever receive is to do what you love; that meaningless hobby you have now may turn out to be the money-churning venture in months to come. Do not be consumed by negativity coming your way or allow anyone put a stop to your shine.
The reason for the community development projects engaged in and volunteer groups joined while serving were not just time wasters but to help develop interests or talents and contribute meaningfully to the society. If writing is your passion, write for your corper’s journal or send in articles to favorite blogs for publication. If you love singing, painting, taking pictures, beautifying others, managing resources, cooking? Then don’t wait till tomorrow, act on it now. If you have services to offer, signup on freelance websites and make money from there. You can start from www.findworka.com, www.fiverr.com or www.upwork.com
10.) Have Faith:
Believe in God no matter your religion, this would keep you going when every other thing fails. Meditate, reflect and cultivate a heart of gratitude no matter the circumstances. Be sensitive to opportunities around you, There is no place you can’t survive within or outside Nigeria, no city is better once you find your purpose and locate where you are meant to be. Seek for God’s direction so you will be tuned to know what is expected of you and where you are to carry it out so you don’t labour in vain.
Okay before I start preaching, remember that every challenge is an opportunity for you to learn, grow and reach new heights. Don’t fear failure and step out of your comfort zone if you want to achieve new things in life. Become self-employed if you must, but remember the world is not waiting for you. The earlier you set yourself up the easier things would fall in place.