Back in the day, one’s graduation in Africa meant a clearly predefined future. The government (who had most likely paid for your education anyway) had ready jobs waiting to be taken up in all sectors. Today, the story is different. Population sizes have doubled and private sector education has increased. Automation and digitization have cut the demand for human labor by more than half. When the millennial African student graduates, the future is very uncertain. Some get employment in civil service, some with private firms; many have resorted to pursuing entrepreneurial careers in self-employment and the majority remain unemployed.
Regardless of where you end up, one thing is certain: that we living in fast-evolving times where the competition never sleeps. With youth unemployment and automation closing in, job security has never wavered any worse. This is why it is very important for every African millennial to stop looking at their work as just service to their clients (or their employer and his clients), and start building a personal brand in their industry of specialty.
We’re no longer living in times where you were assured of pension after serving decades of service in the office offered to you, no. Today, YOU create your own employment opportunity, your own job security AND your own retirement benefits. The first and biggest step to achieving these three is to create a personal brand and build on it every single day of your career. With all this private education, a few thousand other graduates can carry out your prospective/current job description. What sets you apart is that you have the opportunity to harness your created personal brand to become a thought leader in your field of expertise. This does not just open up fresh opportunities that will boost your career growth; it also gives you a higher ground the next time you’re vying for the same position as 55 other candidates by virtue of the fact that your prospective employer or client is familiar with your work even before they interview you.
In this social media age of slay queens and memes (God bless the memes), creating and building a personal brand has never been easier. Right at your fingertips, you have the opportunity to grow your network strategically. At a very optimal fee, social media paid advertising gives you a platform to share your skills and abilities with the globe. Whether you’re an agropreneur, innovator, artist, journalist, social entrepreneur, comedian etc, endeavor to prioritize your personal brand. A strong personal brand will be there for you when it’s time for that interview, when your employer decides to make layoffs because the revenue is not doing so well, when you need some side-gig clients to make extra cash, and most importantly, when you make the decision to quit employment and venture into building your own enterprise or ‘retire into consultancy’.
Needless to say; it’s a load of work. It requires your daily input. Be on the lookout to grow your network not just on social media, but in person as well. Put yourself out there as much as you possibly can (this can be challenging in a societal mindset that still views self-improvement as the equivalent of egocentrism). Build your brand not just for today, but for a legacy that will live beyond tomorrow.
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