Careers & Employment Information


Unemployment Blues: Staying Afloat


The unemployment checks are running out and there is no potential job in sight. The wolf is knocking at the door and you need to survive.

Here are five tips to keep you afloat.

1. Ignore your ego and get everyone on board. You hate letting your children see you as less than competent and completely in charge but now is the time to share your predicament and let them help. By talking with your family, you allow even small children to better appreciate the realities of the world and feel like an important part of a big project. You may be surprised by how they will rally around the idea and come up with ways to save money which makes them feel as if they are really contributing and have value in the family hierarchy. Make saving money and "making do with less" into a game, like Survivor and the other reality shows they watch.

2. Adaptive life style strategies. Stop buying brand names of everything from food to household items to clothes. Change to generics and make using coupons and comparison shopping into a game where you can learn to excel. Leave the expensive prepared foods on the supermarket shelves and start cooking from scratch - the savings can be substantial and you have plenty of time right now for preparation. Only buy something that you absolutely need, luxuries and treats will be available after you find work.

3. Temping. Temporary work through an agency can provide a paycheck, even if considerably smaller than your prior income. If the work is in your field, it may lead to a permanent position but is worthwhile even if the work is low skilled and routine. It keeps you thinking and looking like a worker, not a drop out. It forces you to get up in the morning, shower and dress, be active and involved. It keeps you in the business loop and can be positive when you apply for permanent positions: "I took a temporary job because I'm just not happy unless I'm working and productive" is music to the ears of potential employers.

4. Self-employment. Working for yourself sounds awfully tempting with the thought of no future lay-offs and potentially high income. Unfortunately, the worst time to start a business is when your resources are limited. Starting a business takes money, more money than you can imagine, to say nothing of the time and effort you will invest, possibly with little monetary reward. It will also sap the energy and time you need for finding that next job.

5. Entry level jobs. You have paid your dues through the years, gaining skills, experience, and personal competence. All led to increased income and a higher level of responsibility. To step backward into work you could have performed as a teenager makes you think of yourself as a failure, that you are no longer worth anything. Try changing your perspective. Entry level work, such as fast food positions, customer service, cashiering, pays minimum wage and often results in minimal worker effort and service. Since you are only doing the job temporarily, you have the chance to shine above your coworkers by displaying enthusiasm, caring, efficiency, and excellent customer service --something always noticed by the public. In a best case scenario, you may impress a business customer who is looking for a great employee and receive a job offer. At worst, you are bringing in some money to the family coffers and if you are clever enough to select an evening shift, you days are still free to devote to job search for that position you really want.

Virginia Bola operated a rehabilitation company for 20 years, developing innovative job search techniques for disabled workers, while serving as a respected Vocational Expert in Administrative, Civil and Workers' Compensation Courts. Author of an interactive and emotionally supportive workbook, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual, and a monthly ezine, The Worker's Edge, she can be reached at http://www.virginiabola.com


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