About 2 years ago, I came across a post on Facebook from a lady who was highly skilled and unemployed.

Here’s the gist of what she said (I’ve rephrased it to maintain confidentiality).

“Among all the crises we are facing in Kenya today, the biggest one is retrenchment. There are massive job losses all over. I am a victim having lost my job last year. Since then, my biggest challenge has been accepting the fact that I am unemployed and then taking on odd jobs.

I feel bad because I spent time going to school. I am a graduate, but now am losing on time. Not that I’m a proud person, but I know most graduates feel this way.

This is the first time I’ve been unemployed. The last 6 months have been the longest I’ve stayed without work. I’ve always taken care of my bills and I’m used to having my own money. I’m tired of depending on someone else.

Additionally, jobs are not easy to come by nowadays. I tried selling clothes and did well for some time. Unfortunately, that dried up and I have dead stock. What do I do?”

I followed the thread all morning to see the responses. I was also interested because this is a common scenario I see with unemployed professionals. Finally, I’ve been there too and know how hard it can be when you’re skilled and have no income.

If you’re in such a situation, you have to take action. As it is, there are 2 choices:

  1. Make the mental shift and take action.
  2. Allow life to force you into action.

In reality, there really is no choice. When you do nothing or become choosy, life will make a choice for you…and it will be a very painful one.

My suggestions if you’re highly skilled and unemployed

1. Start where you are

Start with what you have in your hands. For example, this lady had dead stock in the house AND access to the internet. As long as someone has time to be on Facebook, they have enough internet access to do business online. So why not sell the stock there?

Many people are making money selling things through social media. However, many others flounder because they don’t want their friends to see them selling…and the potential of being ridiculed. But so what if they see you selling stuff on Facebook? It’s your life, not theirs!

2. Search for work online

Again, if you can manage to stay online for at least one hour a day, this is enough time to search for a job. As a highly-skilled professional with training and experience, the world is your playground. You won’t have to stay unemployed for long if you play it right.

Whatever training and experience you have, you can find someone who needs help. So go online and look for work. Contrary to popular opinion, online writing and transcription are not the only jobs available. Check out sites like Upwork, Freelancer and IWorker are a good place to start. Fiverr is also an option if you don’t want to bid for jobs all the time.

If you follow the rules on these sites correctly, you will get hired. Also, note that the sites that pay better (such as Upwork), are also stricter. So be as professional online as you would be offline (or even more).

Finally, if you’re a Kenyan aged under 35 and you want to learn more about working online, check out Ajira Digital. This is a government initiative that offers free training for young people who want to work online.

3. Get ready to be hired

Working online may not meet all your financial needs because you still need to build traction and experience. It can take as long as 2 years before you can replace your previous income with online gigs.

If you want to get back into employment, make getting a job your number 1 priority and work at it as if this was your job! For this, I recommend job searching on LinkedIn.

There are a lot of employers and head hunters who look for talent strictly through LinkedIn. Use that to your advantage.

  • Google ‘How to get hired through LinkedIn’.
  • Use this information to update your CV and make your profile stand out on LinkedIn.
  • Then get active with your LinkedIn job search every weekday.
  • Keep in mind that LinkedIn is very different from Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Your level of professionalism will determine how well people respond to you.

There are also solopreneurs and entrepreneurs who need help with some aspects of their businesses but they don’t want or need full-time employees.

I’ve hired freelance writers through Linkedin because I know from experience that people are more careful about their professional image there. One of the people I’ve hired works full-time and writes on the side. She gets all her clients through Linkedin. We’ve never met and only communicate on phone and email and I pay her using MPESA.

Many entrepreneurs, especially solopreneurs, are looking for skilled people who are willing to work on a part-time basis. Any job that you do as an employee is something that you can do to help an entrepreneur scale up. You just need to realize that entrepreneurs think differently from corporates and probably have lower budgets too. However, you will be earning and also have something to boost your CV if needed.

You’re not a victim, you’re simply unemployed

When I shared my response, it was before the COVID-19 pandemic. Little did I know that in a short while, there would be a real worldwise crisis that would lead to even more unemployment!

If you’re in such a situation, it’s important to keep in mind that you’re not a victim. You’re just unemployed. You lost your job, but not your life or ability to make money. If you see yourself as a victim, it will be harder for you to get out of your situation. That is the mindset you need to change immediately.

Also, take advantage of the opportunities that this pandemic has opened up. Telecommuting is now the norm which means that you can get hired from anywhere in the world and still work from home. You have an added edge as a highly-skilled professional because many companies are downsizing and hiring people who are already working online.

Finally, your mindset depends largely on the people you hang out with. If you complain or give, you lose. And if you hang out with people who complain a lot, your situation will not get better.

Hang out with people who are forward-thinking. Learn from them, build your confidence in such spaces, and use the tips I’ve shared here to change your situation.

Over to you…

Being unemployed is a very scary space to be, especially if you have dependants. I’d love to hear from you if you’ve been there. Share your story and the strategies that worked for you in the Comments below. Together, we can help highly skilled unemployed graduates find hope and solutions as they map their next steps.

(Image credit: Pixabay)

Caroline Gikonyo
Caroline Gikonyo

Caroline Gikonyo is a Life and Business Coach at Biashara 360. She's an avid blogger and also oversees our content creation. This ensures that we give our readers quality and well researched information and tips.

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