"Getting A Job - and Holding On In The Meantime" - Lawrence J. Danks
This article makes suggestions for getting a job, holding on until you find one, and planning for the future. (Make it easier to read by copying the whole thing first. Feel free to copy it for any non-commercial purpose and give it to anyone else you wish.)
There are few things as discouraging as not having a job. It can have an obvious effect on one's level of happiness. It not only attacks the underpinnings of our economic security and peace of mind, but it can have effects on our self-esteem too. The current economy has put many hard working, dedicated and long term employees in some very trying circumstances. It has also made decision time a lot harder for upcoming college graduates. This article makes suggestions for different types of current and future workers, so some might be realistic for you to try, while other suggestions are clearly going to be better for others.
1. This May Be An Opportunity
It's been said that sometimes our greatest opportunities come wrapped up inside our most difficult problems. It is obviously very traumatic finding yourself unemployed, or not being able to get a job after you've obtained a degree or training, but there are some things in life we just can't control. The sooner you can face that, the faster you will be able to re-focus and the quicker you will get to where your future lies.
It can make it a lot harder if you really liked a previous job and are going to miss it, but if you didn't like it, you still may have just stuck with it, thinking you had no other choice, or also that there was too much risk in leaving it. Now you have a real chance to try to find something that may be far more satisfying to you and that might allow for personal growth in a way you never thought would be possible. Losing your job might produce a silver lining in the long run for you and your family. Move forward in faith doing your best and good things may happen for you.
2. You Only Need One Job
No matter how high the unemployment rate is, remember you only need one job. Don't let the statistics get you down. Just keep your eye on the ball. If there are two wage earners in a household, try to find work at different places. A number of workers faced more rapidly deteriorating financial conditions when they both worked at the same place, or in the same industry, and both loss their incomes and benefits at the same time. It's not a good position to put yourself in.
3. The Mortgage, The Rent, Health Insurance
If you have a mortgage, make an appointment to talk with the lender. See if they are willing to help recast your payments or can provide other temporary relief. You need to convince them that you take your obligations seriously, that you're responsible, and that you want to pay your debts. This can't happen when a property owner ignores letters and notices and does not try to meet to make some accommodations. Appearance can count too, so make sure you are dressed presentably. It's a business transaction. Give the lender confidence. Keeping good credit is obviously a plus too, although that can be very difficult under the circumstances many people are facing.
Be very careful about dealing with companies who say they specialize in loan modification. Never give them any money upfront without an attorney's advice. Some of them are scams. If you already are in financial difficulty, you don't need to be handing money over to companies that can't or won't do anything for you.
See an attorney about trying to forestall foreclosure. Declaring bankruptcy can be a possibility too, but make sure you have competent legal advice before deciding to do it or not. If you can't afford an attorney, try Legal Aid or the nearest law school's clinic. Call your state representative's office and your congressman's office and see if they can help or have any advice. Also, try county government.
Do not voluntarily move out of a property until a court has ordered you to do so and the sheriff or other officer of the court forces you to leave. The same applies if you are a tenant. Don't go until you are forced to. If there is an eviction hearing, be sure that you attend and state your case. The judge may be willing to grant an extension. If there are material defects in the property that have gone unrepaired, or the property is lacking vital facilities such as heat or water, and you have notified the landlord of these facts in writing, it can be a defense against eviction. It can help buy you more time. I am not talking about trying to scam landlords, which some irresponsible tenants make a habit out of, but of being a responsible person just trying to buy more time for yourself, so you can faithfully meet your obligations. You could be just one job away from starting to get back on your feet again.
Thankfully, Congress has provided for health coverage for children. The passage of The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) has also made options available, although your own state's participation may affect what benefits you may be able to get . You may be entitled to subsidies also. Check with the federal government about The Affordable Care Act, and its current status or subsequent iterations, or your state and county government to determine how to get covered as best as you can.
You cannot risk going without health insurance.. You need to have it through what's suggested above, or otherwise. If you cannot afford the premiums, find coverage with a high deductible, such as a $2000 or $5000 deductible. If you had major health care costs, you would be responsible for that amount, which you may be able to dig out from under in the future, but you would avoid a catastrophic expense in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
4. Stop The Bleeding - Cut Your Expenses To The Bone
You don't know how long you will have to tread water. Prepare for the worst, but hope for the best and stay busy working toward that goal. It's scary not having enough to pay your bills, including your mortgage or rent and car payments, and wondering how you are going to take care of others who are depending on you. The first thing is to slow the bleeding of expenses as best as you can by finding any type of work that will bring money in, but that is also flexible enough so if you find something better, you could leave that job easily, or retain it as supplementary income. This might include jobs such as cleaning houses, cutting lawns, babysitting, telemarketing, etc. Some money coming in from some kind of work, combined with unemployment compensation and living as frugally as possible, can help keep you afloat. Here are some other thoughts:
- Shop differently at the food store. Get extra of whatever is on sale and use coupons to buy it. (Join a coupon exchange where you exchange coupons with other coupon collectors.) Look online, as well as in newspapers and magazines, for coupon offers and for couponing tips. The goal is to always be eating what you bought on sale without having to pay full price for anything you eat. As you build up your stock, you'll be able to do this more and more.
- If you have a stock of things in the pantry, or frozen food that you've been keeping, now's the time to live off the fat of the land for a while. Food banks are also a possibility, but they are hard hit anytime there is a crisis. Try to minimize store trips. The more trips you make, the more you're likely to spend. Shop after you've already eaten and when you're less tired. Shoppers buy more when they are hungry and make poorer choices when they're tired too.
- Don't put anything on credit cards unless there is a desperate need to do so. You don't need interest on top of already existing debt. If you are in a bind with credit card debt, get credit counseling from your county or state government to help restructure and reduce your debt load. Be very wary of any offers that say they can eliminate your debt, particularly things you see online.
- Make do with what you have. Keep the old New England proverb of thrift in mind: "Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without". If you have to buy something, try used clothing or thrift stores. I bought a used suit at one a number of years ago for $15. It was a name brand suit that I had altered for about $20. Other stores have similar bargains. Look for one's near better neighborhoods. You just have to be willing to do some hunting.
- Put the kids to work. If you have children who are old enough to work, explain the situation to them, and tell them you need them to help. When times are difficult, everyone should pitch it. It can also help teach children realistic facts of life that will encourage them to continue their education until they get their four year degree or better, or obtain training in a field that is in demand. (It's the most important thing I tell my college students each semester.) Younger children who can't work outside the home, can still help in it by folding clothes, making their beds, straightening up and the like. You need to delegate to keep the house looking good, while you focus your efforts on high order priorities. When things get disorderly, it can hurt morale, but you don't have to do it all yourself. Anyone who is living there should pitch in.
- Cut your cell phone bill. Some carriers with basic service are as low as $20 a month. (Check Consumer Cellular) Switch to basic cable for television and drop the other cable upgrades to save too.
- See if you can make it with one car or take public transportation. It can mean a substantial savings in auto insurance premiums.
- Pack your lunch or go home for lunch if you can. $5 a day for lunch, plus morning coffee, amounts to about $150 a month.
- Stop smoking: Your health will improve, and your car and your home will smell better. It will also eliminate second hand smoke that affects others. If a household smokes two packs a day, that could easily cost $5000 a year, literally going up in smoke. That could come in mighty handy for someone who has lost his/her job. You'll have a better chance of living long enough to see the light on the other side of the mountain too because you will probably increase your life expectancy also if you quit. Lung cancer deaths are up and lung cancer survival rates aren't good.
- Free College Tuition: Paying college tuition for your college students can be very untimely if it is hitting you when you're facing an economic downturn in your household. Try is to make your work perform double duty. Many colleges offer free tuition to dependents of employees, so if you have secretarial skills or have the necessary license to be a boiler operator at a college for example, you get paid to work and your children go to school tuition free. Just check first to make sure that is one of the benefits offered at the college you're looking into. You and your spouse may also take courses there too and that can lead to an inexpensive way to partially finance training and education to make a career change.
One of my aunts was a secretary for a major oil company. When her daughter was ready to attend college, she got a secretarial position at a local college and her daughter went to four years of college for free. I know someone else who did it when her father was an electrician at a major university. This benefit typically applies to all full time employees, not just to administrators and professors.
- Consider selling your home, if you can, and move to an apartment, or move in with relatives or friends so you can share expenses. It doesn't have to be for life. You're just trying to get over a rough spot.
- Renting your home, or a room, is also an option, but renting has problems of its own that you might not need to deal with on top of what you are already facing. If you do decide to rent, be scrupulously careful whom you rent to. Get a credit check, as much of a security deposit as you can by law, and references --- and not just from a prospective tenant's current landlord. They might give their tenants a good reference just so they can get rid of them, so always try to get references from current and former landlords.
5. Watch Your Thinking and Your Self-Esteem
As hard as things may be, you have to try to maintain a clear head. Panic, continued crying, sleeplessness, worry, and getting down on yourself are only going to negatively affect your ability to think clearly. Just say to yourself "Look, I've got a real problem here, but nothing is going to solve it except staying positive and trying to take sensible steps in the right direction." Be assured you are reading someone who understands these things. I read a great biblical quote that can help you keep proper perspective:
"You worry all day and what do you have to show for it?"
Positive self-help reading can also makea big difference in keeping your attitude where it should be. There are many sources of self-help reading in this website, as well as recommended books.
Remember too that you are not your job. You are not your former job title either, you are a worthwhile person, the same worthwhile person whether you are employed or not, or have a lower level of employment than you did before. You should think of yourself as "Jack or Jill the worthwhile person." You can always be that, no matter what your economic circumstances are.
No matter what your circumstances are, try to do things to help other people, even small things. That gives us "The Power" - the power to know that we still have the ability to make a positive difference in the world. That not only helps others, but helps us raise our own level of self-esteem too. It is one of the surer roads to happiness.
6. Finding Work
Check Monster.com, Indeed.com, state employment services, private employment services and other internet job sites. Just put "getting a job" into the search box and you will find many job related sites and a huge amount of job hunting advice. Don't just search your own geographic area. Search under job title or category too and see where other openings might be in your field. You may have to move to stabilize yourself again. In any case, it gives you a better view of the employment landscape in the region and throughout the country.
Let people know about your situation and your need to find employment. Give others an opportunity to help you. If you are a member of a church congregation, let them know, as well as family, friends, and acquaintances. Anyone in sales can tell you that sometime a lead comes from the most unexpected places. E-mail and text to any contact list you have too, no matter where the recipient is located, and promote yourself on Facebook, LinkedIn and other social media sites.
We can't always get help, but we can always give it, no matter how challenging our own situation might be. In the process of looking for work for yourself, you might discover information that can help someone else you know. We always still have that ability, no matter how bad things might be for us. We just have to let ourselves use it. In doing so, we raise our own self-esteem, knowing we have done something good. That confidence boost can make a difference in our own efforts.
Career and Job Fairs
These are held at colleges and at large venues advertised in major Sunday newspaper employment sections, as limited as they otherwise are today. There are also fairs for those in certain specialties, such as health care or the computer industry. There are also job fairs for minority hiring. If you are a minority person, recognize that companies have these fairs because they are looking to have an appropriate minority representation in their work force. That can work to your advantage if your qualifications are otherwise good. It's wise not only to meet area employers for current or future employment possibilities, but also to have the opportunity to gain interviewing experience too.
You might also determine if you would qualify for "minority status". The law provides specific definitions. It does not necessarily mean that someone has to be a minority, only in the publicly viewed, traditional sense. Someone may be enough of a minority to qualify under the definition. There is nothing bogus about this. If the law says that someone qualifies as a minority because of their background, then they are one. An attorney, legal services or a human resources professional can provide advice to you in this area.
If you can't find a job that pays, look for a place to volunteer where they might be likely to have a paid opening in the near future. It could also enable you to show experience in a desirable field. The same with part-time work. Get your foot in the door. Show how good of worker you are and build up a group of people who will speak well of the quality of your work, your conscientiousness and punctuality. You can back into a job this way. Don't think the way everyone else thinks. 1000 people don't always have to go rushing trying to get one of 35 available jobs, as was the case once with firefighting jobs in Miami. Think differently and try some different strategies.
Try to get on the substitute teacher list for area school districts. (In New Jersey, it requires a minimum of sixty college credits.) Once you get approved, when you're called by the coordinator in the morning, you want to always do what I call a "reverse Nancy Reagan" - just say "Yes!" The more you keep saying yes, the more you're going to get called. If you were a coordinator, calling all around at 6AM in the morning to find a substitute teacher, aren't you going to call the person who always says "Yes" first and make your life easier? This can give you inroads and insights into a school district that could lead to a job as a teacher, teacher's aide or other position later. You are never in a better position than you are being on the inside of an organization to hear what is coming up or to see job postings internally.
Churches and other organizations run support groups for unemployed workers. This can not only provide useful counseling advice, but can generate information from other participants that can benefit you.
If your company provides services to help find a new job, that's something to take advantage of too. Use the knowledge of experienced professionals who have seen situations like yours many times before.
College Career Planning Offices
Always remember that it is far easier to get interviews through your Career Planning Office while you are a student than it is once you graduate.
State and Private Employment Services
7. Assess Your Situation and Act Accordingly
Is there a chance you might get called backed to your company? Will you be able to find work in the same industry in your area or elsewhere? Are other suitable jobs available in your area? If you think that there is hope on any of these fronts, you may be better trying to stay where you are. Most people have family and friends in their area. They comprise an important support network in times of need and stress. They can also serve as a network of contacts that can lead you to another job. You don't have that working for you if you move to a new area where you have to make adjustments, not knowing anyone on top of it. But if things look grim where you are, you need to consider some other choices:
- Have the major breadwinner move and keep the family in place. This way, the rest of the family can retain some degree of normality, the children can stay in the same schools and there isn't any culture or geographic shock caused by moving to another area, to say nothing of the hassle of moving. Perhaps driving 3-4 hours may produce some better opportunities or even commuting back and forth on weekends from greater distances. It's obviously not ideal, but as things improve in your home area, you can keep looking for something closer. If the new more distant job turns out to be a winner, you can move in an organized manner later to something better.
- Relocate: To take advantage of more distant opportunities, go where the work is. Naturally, this may involve uprooting others and having children attend new schools, but sometimes things are so bad in an area, and so many workers are out of work, moving can help stabilize you sooner with a regular income, rather than trying to stay and hang on where you are. You never know, it may even turn out to be a lot better in many ways, particularly if you move to an area that's not as expensive.
Try to make a positive adventure out of it. Ask yourself where you'd like to go if you could, then investigate opportunities there. Is there any place you've thought about moving to? Maybe now is the time. Do some investigation, check out the job market, make some phone calls, make an exploratory trip and see what happens. If you are a member of a church denomination that has a church in the prospective area, check through them too to try to get the lay of the land.
Most job growth in the US is taking place in the South and in the Mountain States. Check out other states that have lower unemployment too.
Not all parts of all states, or all sectors of employment, have openings. It is important to investigate before packing the car and to send a scout on ahead to check things out locally before considering a move.
8. Make A Smart Move and Re-Train If You Have To
Your goal should be to find a job in a field you will enjoy, with decent pay and benefits, and one that is not readily able to be outsourced. You don't want to get a job, then lose it because it got exported. Any work that can be done more cheaply outside the US, or that can be digitized, should be viewed with caution. You don't want to have to go through being unemployed again. Naturally if you need a job now, take it, but keep your eye out for something more secure, with better long term prospects.
If you are in an industry that doesn't show much promise for the future, make sure your next move is to a field that offers more long term security. I've listed a number of career fields below that, at this time, show promise for the future. All of these aren't going to be suitable for everyone. Some may be more of an option for college students. While these fields show promise on a national level, check locally to see what the demand is in your own area. There can be regional variations.
Registered Nurse: This is not just an occupation for women. More men are going into nursing. There is likely to be a continuing need for nurses in the future. It is also a portable skill. Registered nurses can find work in just about any state, although that normally requires getting licensed in that state. Getting into a nursing program may not be easy, but investigate area nursing schools associated with hospitals and community colleges. It might not take as long as you think either. Many nursing programs are two year programs, but a university hospital in Philadelphia announced a program where the holder of a bachelor's degree could quality to become a nurse through an 11 month program. Check for similar offerings in your area.
If you are a non traditional sex as an applicant, or for a position, it may work to your advantage, so think broadly. It might help. Nursing programs might want to have more male admissions. Engineering and technical programs might be seeking more females
Health Care Occupations: There is demand for physicians' assistants and nurse practitioners. Many health care providers can save on a budget by hiring these professionals, who effectively serve between a nurse's and a physician's role, are likely to do it and continue to do it out into the future. Physical therapy, radiology technician, and medical coding may aso provide opportunities..
There's going to be continuing demand for many health care occupations. Starting in 2011, 10,000 people a day will be retiring for the following twenty years. Most of those people are going to need health care in their later years. See what's in demand in the area. Check with CCC Director of Nursing Programs, our Science Department, and your local hospitals and health care professionals to get ideas for what health care fields need people.
Pharmacist: A very solid occupation in demand that pays well. Speak to an appropriate adviser in our Science Department. To gain more insight, train as a pharmacy tech.
Elementary and High School Teaching: Look toward areas in demand such as special education, mathematics and the sciences. Areas like English and history may be something you might enjoy more, but the competition for such jobs is fierce. Find out what school districts need. Colleges can tell you what you need to do to get certified to teac
Librarian: Professional librarians are not "book shelvers". That's done by student workers, volunteers or other library employees. Librarians today are information specialists. If you have computer skills, that can also be a plus. For the longer term, it's beneficial not to just get a Bachelor's degree in Library Science, but an MLS (Master of Library Science) too.
Paralegal: Paralegals are "in between" a legal secretary and an attorney. They can perform some functions attorneys perform, such as interviewing clients and preparing documents, but can't represent clients in court as an attorney can.
There will, in my opinion, be a continuing need for paralegals in the future. Law firms have cut down on the number of attorney hires. Some firms find it more economical to hire paralegals to perform certain functions, instead of paying attorney salaries. When businesses can save money, they are usually going to do it. While it is not essential to do so, attending a program with American Bar Association (ABA) approval is a plus.
Dental Hygienist /Dental Assistants: The hours are very flexible and the pay is good. Don't forget to brush and floss too. (They made me say it. Seriously, it can also help to prevent inflammation and heart disease.)
Computers and Information Technology: Software Design and Development, Networking, Computer Maintenance. Seek the guidance of college professors, and from those working in the field, to advise you which areas to enter and which areas to stay away from. Some computer work is being outsourced. You don't want to get into those areas.
Accounting: The long term goal would often be to become a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The prospects for accountants are good.
High Tech Occupations: Our College Technical Faculty, located in The CIM Center, can advise you. Our technical programs are also usually far less expensive than those of private technical schools. Never take on a big loan if you don't have to.
Federal and State Government: Jobs can get cut here too, but government jobs often have civil service protection and if you are a veteran, you get a veteran's preference on tests for positions. Lists of such positions are readily available through your state, local libraries and online. The CIA often advertises for good candidates, particularly if you are knowledgeable in languages in need, such as Arabic. The FBI traditionally has a need for attorneys and accountants.
If you can speak a foreign language, it can be a great assist in finding a job. It helps separate you from the rest of the pack. Just determine what employers would be most likely to be able to use your language skill. If you speak French or Italian for example, contact companies from those countries doing business in the US. Spanish is a big plus with many companies. Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the country. Companies need to be able to communicate effectively with this growing customer base.
Military Service: The military makes cuts too, but they are also often recruiting hard, at least for certain specialties.
Sales: There is no shortage of people in sales, but companies are always looking for people "who can sell" . If you can, you will always be able to find a home. Don't pick a field where people would cut back in a recession, e.g., auto sales, appliances, furniture, etc. Go for something that stays more steady in any economy. Obviously, it's better to obtain a position that pays a salary plus benefits and offers commission too. Some sales positions are straight commission only, with no benefits. The good news with those is that your income is "unlimited". The bad news is that if you don't sell, you have no income. Find an organization that provides excellent initial and continuing training and education.
Keep your eye on news on Google, AOL, Yahoo and other websites, and in magazines, for lists of hot job prospects. They can change from time to time and from region to region.
9. Career Areas To Avoid
This is purely my take on this, but I would avoid areas such as:
Any Lower Level Manufacturing: High tech manufacturing may be fine, but anything at a lower level is consistently threatened by having the work being down in countries with cheaper labor.
Readily Outsourceable Work: Avoid work that can be outsourced to other countries to be done more cheaply, including work that can be digitized. That's why jobs that require physical presence such as nursing, health care occupations and teaching are doubly good.
Discretionary Spending Occupations: In times of economic trouble, spending for certain purchases slows down quickly, such as for furniture, recreational vehicles, auto sales, and in travel and leisure industries. While they can do well in a good economy, in a downturn they can be one of the first to be hit and to shed jobs.
10. Re-Training and Re-Education
Sometimes the best solution is to re-train for something that is going to be here for the future in terms of service jobs, high tech jobs and others. Re-training is difficult, particularly after many workers have spent decades in another industry, but doing it prepares someone for a more secure employment future. Determine where the future is and start re-training for it now.
11. Other Thoughts
- Do Work That Leads To Something Else: Working at a gas station may bring in some income, but it is not going to lead to anything. Working at Wal-Mart or UPS however might lead to an Assistant Manager position, on up. (I would only work in retailing if you think it could lead to something better in the company that pays better than most retailing jobs do. Retailing at lower levels offers notoriously poor pay.)
- Consider Getting A Real Estate License - This is an option for someone who does not have a desperate need for current income, but has the time to try to prepare for a future opportunity. This is not likely to be an immediate source of income. Getting a real estate license should not interfere with getting a college degree however, or with working at something more financially lucrative now.
- Ask people for advice and help. It's not all going to be good, but you will probably make better decisions when cooler heads can give you some input to assist your thinking. Some networking like this can also lead to a job. Some of the people you want to ask for advice are those who are in a position to hire you or to recommend you to others. Also, speak with anyone you know who has been recently hired and see if their company has any further needs.
-"I Don't Need Benefits" - If you are unemployed and seeking work, and already have benefits through someone else, make sure you tell potential employers that you don't need them. It can make a difference with some employers. Naturally, any time you can find a job with benefits, all the better.
- Borrow Money: I put this at the bottom of the list because it's something most people don't want to do, but if you really need money, borrow it from someone who will lend it to you. For anyone reading this who can do the lending, your ability to be there when someone really needs a hand up can make all the difference to a family or an individual trying to get over a rough spot.
If you don't have the money to buy goods and services you need, try proposing a barter. Does someone need to go to the dentist? Maybe it can be exchanged for, lawn cutting and landscaping services or electrical work. Not everyone is going to want to do it, but you only need one taker. Think of what services you can provide: doing odd jobs, secretarial services, plumbing, construction or brickwork, tutoring, etc. Use the skills you have to get some of the things you need. You don't have to pay for everything.
13. Maybe You Can Help
There are many people who are not really affected that much by economic downturns, who still have, resources: a home, purchasing power and money in the bank and in other investments. Such people are also powerful resources to help the nation by helping a neighbor or family member with a loan, or by purchasing something now that they were planning to buy soon anyway, like a new car, a home addition, vacation, new furniture, television or another appliance. If those who have resources used them to give a little bump to the economy, it could help people keep working and others from being laid off.
14. You Are Never Alone, Nor Should You Be
Remember, you are never alone in your struggles. If you believe in prayer, it can help in difficult times. Prayer is not necessarily the solution to our economic problems, but it can help give provide strength to get through tough times. Whether you have religious belief or not, if you need support, speak to trusted family members, friends and professionals, and caring people online who can help give you the support you need to make it through. Nothing lasts forever in life. That's a given.
15. Makes Changes If You Have To
If what you've tried so far isn't working, you need to try something else. If you keep doing the same things, you'll keep getting the same result. A former Detroit auto worker assessed his situation and determined that it was unlikely he would find a job in the industry again. So he applied for a position as a police officer in Houston and got the job. Good, outside the box, thinking. Talk with others and read to get inspiration. Basic self-help reading is always important too to keep your self-confidence and attitude pointed in a positive direction. I've done it all my life.
16. Get Out Of The House
Don't stay home either. Get out of the house and meet as many people as you can. You may have "chance meetings" with people who can be a help to you. That can't happen if you're inside all the time. Go to the movies, take a walk in the park, change your scenery, and look for someone else to help. It all helps to improve perspective.
Just keep moving forward step by step, trying to make yourself better today than you were yesterday and the future can start to look bright again.