As I see it, if you are unemployed you have two choices…work or don’t work. It may sound overly simple, it may even sound cruel. Take all the emotion, unfairness, the economy “sucks” and other excuses/reasons out of the equation and that’s what you have, right? Why isn’t it as simple as this?
Not long ago, I received some comments asking for me to provide insight, advice, help for the 99ers (99ers are those people who have been unemployed for 99 weeks or longer and exhausted their unemployment) and for those people who are living on the edge of homelessness. The readers suggested that my advice on networking over coffee and attending professional association meetings/conferences which both require spending money (which these folks don’t have) are not realistic. I agree.
Starting Your Job Search Right
I primarily address the needs of those new to job search. My belief is that if I can catch them early and get them on the right trail, it is sort of a form of preventative medicine. The longer someone is out of work without appropriate treatment, the more severe the disease gets, so to speak.
Living Below or Within Your Means
I have never been on the edge of losing my home. I HAVE lived through my husband’s 18 months of job search. We had always lived meagerly, but we had to cut back even more. We canceled our cable. We ate a lot of spaghetti. We played the shell game with our bill paying. We got depressed. It was horrible and I NEVER want to go back there. We did learn some valuable lessons and still strive to live within our means and pay off our credit cards (when we seldom use them).
We hadn’t had a lot of money coming in before this either. I remember crying over the phone with my sister-in-law as I told her I hadn’t bought any new underwear in over 5 years. The few I had left were either torn or the elastic was shot. No- this isn’t the same as almost losing our home, but I remember how helpless and hopeless I felt. This is my point. The longer this went on, the more we both spiraled into despair.
When you have to worry about basic needs, food and shelter, all our energy goes into figuring out how to survive and there is little energy left for anything else. I have heard that those who live in poverty have adopted coping strategies to help them through this. For many of the long-term unemployed, this is their first experience, and most may not have developed their coping skills, which makes their situations even more overwhelming.
Work or don’t work.
So, back to the 2 choices. There are jobs out there. Maybe not good ones or the ones you may want or ones that will pay all the bills. Think short-term, survival. Some money coming in is better than no money coming in.
The other option is to create a job…there are lots of problems that need solving, services that need to be provided. Think simple. Think short term. Child care, dog walking, office cleaning, elder care, data entry, lawn care, handy person…look around. I am suggesting simple, word of mouth advertising. Nothing complicated. (Shhh, maybe under the table). Finding customers/clients requires hustle, sales, positive attitude. I know, this isn’t easy, but it is a solution. (Read “Are You in Survival Mode Yet“)
Barter for services you need such as a babysitter. Call in a favor.
Don’t tell me you don’t know anyone…because that’s not true. I think what is closer to the truth is that you don’t feel comfortable asking anyone. That’s different. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to ask for help. Moving forward, I hope you’ll see that building relationships is sort of important.
So, for all those long-term unemployed, ask yourself this.
Are you saying “I can’t, because…..” or “I will, because…”