Advice for Un/Underemployed: Unique Techniques for Finding Work
Being laid off is scary, especially during a tight job market like our current one in the U.S. Like thousands of us still looking for full-time work – or even steady a part-time job – I can relate.
Since my layoff about three years ago, I’ve been trying to “think of out the box” with my job search. I’ve been pursuing a number of methods, traditional and unconventional, to get a better foothold in returning to the workforce. Some techniques have been promising, and I’m still doing them. Others, well, have not produced the results I hoped.
As I’m speaking from my personal experience, coming from a single, 30-something writer/editor’s point of view, I would like to offer unconventional suggestions that have led to some prospects. Hopefully some of these tips can help you as well!
Learn a skill outside the (traditional) classroom.
We all hear the importance of brushing up on our software know-how or learning new skills, yet the cost can have bad timing. If some courses are a bit much for your budget, look at various affordable alternatives. For example, in order to learn Google Analytics, a popular tool in marketing/media, I found a tutorial offered … by Google! Turn to online learning through providers such as ed2go. Professionals who instruct courses through your town or city’s board of education actively use what they teach on the job or to generate extra income. Libraries also may hold public workshops on software classes, resume reviews, and networking tips. Contact your state’s department of labor, which may have similar resources as well.
Include social media in your job search.
Definitely start with LinkedIn, a networking tool with its basic service being free. It’s like Facebook for professionals. You can look up and send an invitation to “connect” with past colleagues and classmates, and even current contacts (if they choose to and vice versa). On there, I’m also seeing more companies and businesses of all kinds list job openings as well as professional groups to join and connect with those in your field. With job search engines, it pays to follow a mix of general boards (like Indeed, Monster and CareerBuilder) and certain industry careers (in my case, Mediabistro and Public Relations Society of America). Even search for those with jobs in specific fields like higher education, information technology or the arts. Craigslist also has job postings, but I recommend a little due diligence. Judge the post. I’m finding the more professional a post is written, the greater chance it’s legitimate. And listen to your gut. If something seems or feels wrong, you're probably right. And if you’re open to Twitter, you’ll find and can follow accounts that solely tweet about openings.
Reconnect with people from your past and present.
Through LinkedIn, sending a note, or making a call, it can help to share with others you know that you’re looking (be sure to ask how they are doing too!). I was lucky where I was able to land an ongoing contract job with someone who knew me from a previous job. Somehow I thought of her out of the blue, always having liked working with her, and sent an invite to connect with her via LinkedIn. Thankfully, the timing was right: she remembered my work and brought me on board as a contributing writer. Plus, don’t be afraid to ask others for help or suggested leads. I’ve gone back to my alma mater to meet with Career Services and connected with alumni chapters and even Meetup groups. Even attending a networking event is a good step.
Become an intern.
Yes, it may sound odd to be a post college intern, but, depending upon various factors, it might work in your favor. After a few months with no responses, I came across a posting for a paid editorial internship at a B2B media company. I applied for it, and got called in for an interview. Needless to say, I got it, and for 10 weeks I wrote news briefs posted on websites for one of the company’s divisions. After the internship ended, I received my stipend. Another bonus: My materials were left online and I still use them as work samples. As there are both paid and nonpaid internships, and some mandate specific requirements, weigh all your needs first and then see what is the best fit.
Good luck! And, please remember: Trying something is better than doing nothing.