Can’t find a job? Create your own

Prosper | Written by Absa Staff Writer

03 November 2017

Every year, universities launch hundreds of thousands of enthusiastic, newly qualified students into the job market. And every year, only a small percentage of them actually find a job. The fact is, our job market is not growing at the rate our students need it to. According to, the unemployment rate in South Africa increased to 27.7 percent in the first quarter of 2017 from 26.5 percent in the previous period. This is the highest it’s been since 2004. That’s the bad news. The good news is that the traditional job market is not the only solution.

There have been numerous articles written about how South Africans need to stop relying on the formal sector to get a job and start creating opportunities for themselves. We won’t revisit that point in this article. Rather, we’re going to look at the options available to would-be entrepreneurs, whether they want to make a little money while they wait for their dream job or carve out a long-term career working for themselves.

  • Go freelance

Globally, the contract workforce is growing. There are many reasons for this. From a business point of view, shifting economics and corporate downsizing means that companies are looking for the flexibility of hiring talented people who can do jobs on a project basis. From a contractor perspective, there is a growing dissatisfaction with the inflexibility of a full-time job. To some, 9-5 is a prison sentence and, more and more, these people want to dictate their own work conditions and rules.

A successful freelance career, however, depends on networking. So, if this idea appeals to you, be sure to check out the forums, groups and recruitment agents that are available in your industry. Get your name out there and keep it there by being active in your industry. If it’s relevant, and if you can write, produce thought leadership articles that you can post on industry-related news sites. Make sure that you are seen at related functions. Do what you must to get your name out there.

  • Go online

Honestly, there is practically nothing that can’t be sold online. With the proliferation of good, easy-to-use website development sites, such as Wix and WordPress, getting a business up-and-running online is no longer limited to those with heaps of money to pay a developer. Training is even an affordable option, with a variety of online workshops available for upskilling yourself. You can make the most of what the online economy has to offer with Absa’s ReadyToWork program, for instance, a fantastic free resource for any budding entrepreneurs or job seekers. ReadytoWork provides learning material that will help enhance your work, people, money and entrepreneurial skills. You can select your own learning pathway depending on your individual needs, and complete the learning online in your own time, using a computer, tablet or mobile phone.

Whether you want to sell a service, skill or a product, this is a great way start a career on your own terms. But whichever one you choose, remember that making money online is an art so don’t take the “if you build it, they will come” attitude. Do your homework and develop a strategy that will enable you to make some serious moolah doing what you love. Here are just a few things you can do online.

Blogging – Have a lot to say about something? Set up a blog and start sharing your wisdom. Timothy Ferriss, the author of The 4-hour work week, made a career out of advising people on how to make a living doing practically nothing. If he can do it, you can.

Sell your hobby – Whether you set up an online store yourself or sell on marketplace websites like and Amazon, there is someone who will want to buy quirky lampshades and decadently creamy cupcakes. Take your hobby and turn it into a business.

Sell a service – Virtual assistant, tutoring such as, life coach, typing services, research, resume writing, personal shopper. Really, there is almost no limit to the services you can sell online. Decide what it is that you can offer, find a way to make your version of it unique or distinct and make it happen.

Sell something on – You don’t have to know how to make a pottery bowl from scratch or bake the world’s best macaroons to sell online. Keep an eye out for a gap in the market and find a product that will fill it. If the thought of having to house stock is intimidating, go the route of many successful online stores that merely act as the middleman between suppliers and customer. They facilitate the deal but delivery happens directly from the supplier.

  • Go unexpected

Did you know that you can get paid to be a human guinea pig in medical trials? Really, some people make a living out of it. Obviously, if you have an irrational fear of needles, this may not be for you but, the point is, there are hundreds of ways that you can make a living that never came up when you were talking about what you wanted to be when you grew up. Gaming is another career that, although not totally unexpected now, was never something people thought they could make a career of 15 years ago. Walking dogs. Becoming a professional product reviewer. Becoming a secret shopper. Think a little differently about your career and you’ll be amazed at the different options that exist to make money.

The world of self-employment offers an unlimited range of career options for those who are open-minded and courageous enough to take the leap. Due to space, we haven’t begun to cover all the alternatives. We didn’t even look at franchising, for example, which can offer ambitious and hard-working entrepreneurs the chance to own their own business without having to start something from scratch. But we hope that, if nothing else, we opened your mind a little and whet your entrepreneurial appetite.

Disclaimer: The advice contained on this blog is for general purposes only and does not take into account individual circumstances, objectives or financial needs. Accordingly, readers are advised to seek appropriate advice from licensed professionals prior to making any investment, or taking up a financial product or service.