This article is excerpted from Out-of-Work to Making Money, 21 Comeback Stories Every Job Hunter Should Hear
It can be incredibly frustrating to look for a job and feel that you are getting nowhere. Perhaps you’ve applied a lot of places and are wondering whether your submissions are even getting looked at. Maybe you attended a job fair or networking event and went home with some folks who you thought were going to contact you, but that didn’t happen.
Before you bang your head against the wall or scream in frustration, here are some options to consider. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, just offering up some ideas
1) Hire a Career Coach
And not just any career coach — hire a career coach who has helped people like you return to earning a living recently.
Look for someone with a website that talks about your particular needs, such as:
- Overqualified for the path you want to take
- Finding a job with limited/no experience
- Over 50
- Physical or emotional limitations
Ask them to tell you about some of their recent successes. You can also ask for references or testimonials. You should feel confident (or at least very hopeful) that this career coach can help you, based on who they have helped previously.
If possible, talk to more than one career coach on the phone (video calls are even better) to see if you click, and choose the one who you believe will help you the most.
Yep, this is your turn to be the one having a job interview — you’re selecting who is right for the job of matching you up with an employment opportunity.
“I have no money to hire a career coach,” you say.
If you were gravely ill, would you go to a doctor? If your hopes of being employed soon are on life-support than it is time to get some expert counsel.
How would you pay for the doctor? Hmm…. This makes me think we could use the equivalent of Medicaid for employment.
One non-profit option offering career coaching to those “who need it most but can afford it least,” is Caerus Connect. Another is Skillful, a non-profit organization in Colorado and Indiana that works to bridge the gap between the skillset of people looking for work and job openings.
A low-cost option is WorkItDaily.com. At the time of writing, WorkItDaily offers unlimited access to their resources — including ability to get feedback — for $29 a month. You could learn a lot in a month.
2) Invest Time in a Recent Job Search Book
A second option in revamping your job search is to invest your time — and a good place to start is with a (recently published) job search book.
I say invest time because job search books will do nothing if you only read them. Any worthwhile job search book will contain exercises to help you recognize your own skills and strengths as well as actionable job search strategies. The exercises in a job search book can take some effort. It’s another case where ideally you might partner up with someone, gaining a fresh perspective and doubling your motivation.
Three books worth considering are:
First published in 1970, but updated regularly since, this book begins by acknowledging that looking for work has changed dramatically in recent years. The key to success, the book emphasizes, is understanding what you offer a prospective employer that nobody else does. What Color is My Parachute? also contains a lengthy self-assessment section designed to pinpoint the reader’s unique talents and interests. Bolles admonishes, “You were put here on Earth for a reason. You need to find it. These are the steps.”
Published in 2012, and more likely to take you two weeks than two hours to see results, this book is nevertheless worth reading. Readers comment that its easy-to-follow steps boost confidence and one recent (late 2018) reviewer said the book’s advice led to a good job offer.
Introverts: Leverage Your Strengths for an Effective Job Search by Gabriela Casineanu
Casineanu is a coach who has helped more than 1,200 job seekers and people looking to advance in their careers. The book includes real stories of successful job seekers who used the author’s recommended strategies.
More recommendations can be found at our (biased) list of Best Career Books for 2019
3) Get a Gig (or Lots of Them)
Switch your focus from getting a job to getting a gig.
A gig is a one-time event that you get paid for. It doesn’t have to be anything you’d want to do again. The person hiring you doesn’t have to work with you beyond this one time (although they often will).
A gig is a good way to bring in some income and a good way to feel that, once again, you are a contributing member of society.
There are freelance websites where you can bid on gigs that have been posted; or you could check out Fiverr, where you predefine a service gig and people choose it in the same manner as they choose an item to drop into their shopping cart.
One of the great things about Fiverr.com is that it makes you realize that everyone has a skill that they could offer.
- Record yourself reading a document/video script
- Correct punctuation (for the English teacher or copy editor)
- Edit images
- Do research
- Do data entry
You can write up a gig and be in business in a single afternoon.
Another common gig is driving Lyft or Uber. Yes, you must have a car and (preferably) enjoy driving; but, if you do, there are many side benefits to gig driving.
Gig drivers tell me of the possibility of new connections, getting yourself out of the house and conversations alert you to other opportunities. One job searcher told me that she drove to some distant job interviews, then picked up some Lyft business on her way home to offset the travel costs. Smart!
Or you could go low-tech and write up a flyer saying you are between jobs and willing to do odd errands for your neighbors: anything from daycare, to signing for packages, to walking their dogs or house-sitting. You can set your rates ahead of time or tell folks to pay you what they feel is fair.
This low-tech option will get you out of the house and can be a form of casual networking. Meet more people and earn money: win-win. I recommend you put your photo on the page to help them connect your name and face, and give them a bit more confidence about who is reaching out.
4) Find or Create a Job Search Group
Another option to consider is finding or starting a group for job searchers. John Fugazzie did just that with Neighbors Helping Neighbors in January 2011.
The idea was that participants would share useful tips about job searching. The group began meeting in a library. It started small, often with only four or five participants, but the idea has continued to grow and has now spread to multiple locations.
A typical meeting begins with participants giving their ‘elevator pitch’; a condensed version of who they are, and the type of job position they are hoping to find.
Running the weekly Neighbors Helping Neighbors meeting is a rotating responsibility. This helps to ensure that the group covers topics that interest everyone; and it also builds leadership skills and confidence among participants.
Shared knowledge, expanded networking, emotional support and accountability are all potential benefits of job search groups.
As isolation is one of the hardest aspects of being out of work, turning your job search from a solitary endeavor into a team one is worth considering. Neighbors Helping Neighbors has information about starting new groups at http://nhnusa.org/facilitator-center.html.
5) Start a Business
Rather than continuing to search for jobs, you might also consider creating a job or business for yourself.
This is what Monica Carter did when she ‘hired herself’ a few weeks before her unemployment benefits would have run out and started a freelance writing business. Carter found that setting a regular work schedule for herself gave her an immediate sense of accomplishment and increased self-worth.
Carter used an online course to guide her through setting up the DBA, a website and writing portfolio. The end result, Sensible Graffiti, soon began netting jobs to pay the bills and, eventually, led to a part-time job that she is using to recoup the savings she burned through while out of work.
Linda Clay estimated she applied for over 100 jobs during a ten-month period and, after receiving zero (yes, zero), interview invitations, she started an online business consultancy/VA business. She later transitioned out of that business and began working as a coach (lindamclay.com), but she credits the VA business for paying some bills and helping her find the right fit for her skills and passions.
Some businesses can be started with very minimal investment. The $100 Startup is full of examples where people have started all kinds of businesses with little or no money upfront. And it is possible, even in a down economy, to find an investor for a new venture. Marla Wynne began designing and producing a line of women’s clothing during the 2008 recession. Wynne recalls, “I didn’t set out thinking, oh, I want to be a designer. I set out thinking, my kids want to eat and go to college. I better figure this out.”
Not sure whether your business idea will work? No one can predict success, but you can be sure that even if your business struggles and produces little income, you will:
- Learn new skills
- Impress the next person who calls you for a job with your ambition
- Be viewed as an entrepreneur, rather than someone who has been out of work and unable to find a job
…and there is the very real possibility of creating a business that pays your bills, interests you, employs others, and has a positive effect on the world.
The above are just five options to consider. In truth, I’m sure there are many more. I’d love to have you add your thoughts.