Options to Unemployment in Nigeria: Tips for Job Seekers

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It’s no news that unemployment has attained endemic proportions in Nigeria. The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the rate of unemployment in Nigeria stood at 23.9 per cent in 2011, while urban unemployment was estimated at 29.5 per cent in 2013.

In other words, the jobs are not there, compared to the number of job seekers. Have you forgotten how in November 2012, 6 Ph.D., 704 Masters and 8,460 Bachelor degree holders applied for 100 driving positions at Dangote Groups? What about the recent Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) aptitude test mayhem which killed over a dozen job seekers?

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How did we get here?

I think a number of factors are responsible for this sorry state of mass unemployment in Nigeria. First, we have a government that is disconnected from the people. The government at every opportunity makes claims of creating hundreds of thousands of jobs but the citizens don’t see the effect.

Second, many graduates today are unemployable. That sounds condescending but it’s sadly the truth. Your certificate can often get you an invitation for an interview and probably a job, but the real concern of job employers of today is your employability: whether you’re outgoing, have the most up-to-date skills of the job environment, can work well on a team, and whether bringing you on board can make a difference. Many graduates just don’t fit.

Third, there’s an inordinate obsession of fresh graduates with white-collar jobs. In reality, the available white-collar jobs can’t go round. The earlier you realize this, the better for you, because then, you can explore other viable options.

Options to unemployment

So aside job hunting, what other options can you explore? You need to stop waiting for the gatekeepers – the government and big corporations – to come offer you a livelihood. You do not control them. Put your resources and expectations where you have some degrees of control.

  1. Re-invent yourself

There’s no law mandating you to work with your certificate. Rather than spend several months or even years at home seeking employment, learn new skills and position yourself for better opportunities. You could learn tailoring, furniture making, hairdressing, shoe making, house painting, phone repair, computer engineering or programming.

These are skills you could start putting to use right away in order to be engaged and make a good living. Combine any of these skills with your educated mind and you can earn a decent living in a way that doesn’t demean you.

  1. Start a business

Let’s be frank, you’re not likely to be the next Dangote. So don’t even aim for it, at least for now. Don’t look for hundreds of thousands or even millions of Naira to start your own business. If you can get a huge capital, fine. But I know most unemployed people can’t.

So start small. There are businesses you can start with as little as N10,000 or N20,000. You could start selling newspapers, recharge cards, phone accessories, underwear, fruit, books, etc.

As a graduate, you might think some of these businesses do not suit you, but trust me, you can brand yourself and go about it elegantly. And once you raise some capital from it, you can decide to continue with it or move on to something you consider more befitting.

If you’re close to a campus of a tertiary institution, you could buy a small printer of N10,000 and do computer print out for students. I’ve done it before: it sells like hot cake and it’s insanely profitable.

The right business for you depends on your circumstances, location, skills and passion. Just sit down, look around you and reflect and you’ll see a lucrative business you can start with little capital.

  1. Pursue a creative career

If you’re a creative person, you can make a good living and add value to the society by engaging in writing, editing, blogging, graphic design or website design. Thanks to the Internet, anyone with some basic skills can now make a good living from these career paths.

Linda Ikeji, Uche Pedro and Seun Osewa are some notable names pursuing creative careers and making a living online right here in Nigeria. I’m not a millionaire, but I’ve made millions of Naira from my first blog, NaijaWritersCoach.com.

Of course, these results are not typical. Achieving success in a creative career, much like any other endeavour, requires the right knowledge and ample hard work. If you’re not afraid of hard work, there are good reasons you should start a blog and get started.

Or if you’re not carved for the Internet, some other creative careers you may give a try are bead making, stage decoration, greeting card design, radio presentation, etc.

  1. Teach what you know

If you have the courage, can communicate your ideas and can do some research, you can teach and make some money for yourself, while you seek your dream job. Look around you and you’ll find tutorial centres for students preparing to write SSCE and UTME exams. Approach them and tell them what you can offer. You might be turned down but you’ll never know until you try.

Alternatively, you can approach some of your lecturers and some parents in your neighbourhood and convince them you could do home lessons for their kids in primary or secondary schools. They could even link you with their friends who also need such services.

Alternatively, print a catchy advert on A4 paper (or do a poster if you can afford it) and paste it around to woo parents who might want home tutors for their kids. Or if you could get a space and construct some furniture, start a tutorial centre or afternoon classes for students.

I don’t just think this model works. I know for sure that it works because I know many people doing it and making handsome earnings from it.

Go start something

Sitting at home and waiting many months for your dream is unhealthy. Wake up from your slumber, summon the courage and take action on some of these options. Do it with dedication to get results because what is worth doing at all is worth doing well.

Okay, I admit this is risky. You could explore these options to unemployment and fail. But that’s far better and safer than chasing jobs that don’t exist or living in indolence. And even if you fail, you can learn from it and try again.

It’s important that in your own life, you sit in the driver’s seat. Be responsible for your own success or failure. Instead of waiting for governments or big corporations that you do not control to come hand you a job, step up your game and do something good for yourself.

You can do this. Just trust yourself and start little.


This article is written by Muhammed Abdullahi Tosin, a writer and entrepreneur. He is the Founder of How To Start A Blog Online.


  • Ikenna Odinaka C. is a Writer, Career Development Professional, Entrepreneur, Educator and Investor. He is the founder of AfterschoolAfrica.com, AfterSchoolMedia.com and Edxtra.com. He has also co-founded other businesses in Education, technology and media industry. He is passionate about the future of work, entrepreneurship and helping young people explore opportunities to develop their financial capability. You can read his best content on AfterSchoolMedia.com and watch his insightful videos on YouTube

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