How to Get a Job in a Down Economy (Recession)

Get a job!

Get a job!

Yeah, this is a big post. I haven’t written anything substantial in a while. As you may know, if you’re a subscriber or frequent reader, I work for a company that’s been — ahem — “acquired” and I’m going to be looking for a new job real soon. I could lament about the fact that it’s the 4th quarter, nobody’s hiring, the holidays are near, nobody’s hiring, I’m a single-income family, soon to be zero-income family, nobody’s hiring…but…

You didn’t come here for that!

You, like me and thousands of others, either are looking for new jobs or soon will be. The economy tanking, the government doing its best impersonation of Sergeant Schultz (“I see nuuuthing!!!”), and companies increasingly getting by with less have all lead to higher numbers of unemployed, and an almost-never-uttered underemployed. That is to say, there are thousands, maybe millions, of people who have full-time jobs that don’t pay much or they have several part-time jobs that — again — don’t pay well. In any event, neither group is making ends meet nor are they counted amongst the unemployed (if you’re not looking for a job, you don’t count).

This post will cover three ways of earning an income. Mix and match, go solo, or do all three — it’s completely up to you. There’s the “traditional” way, the “alternative” way, and the “passive” way. First, the traditional way. But with some unconventional twists.

Traditional

Most of us want a “job” where we trade our time and knowledge (otherwise known as “work”) for money. We produce a product, sell a service, build a bridge, write a book, etc., all in return for a paycheck that either comes once a week, twice a month, or once a month.

Millions of people — the majority, in fact — who consider themselves “employed” (as opposed to unemployed or self-employed) have jobs. It’s supposed to be — and usually is — a symbiotic relationship, in that both the employer and employee gain something from the relationship.

I’ve had lots of jobs. Too many in fact! If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s how to get a job! And I’ve had many different kinds of jobs. Here’s a short list:

  • Concession stand salesman
  • Yellow pages seller
  • Retail store manager and salesperson
  • School teacher
  • IT help desk
  • Systems Analyst
  • Auditor
  • Manager, credit card operations
  • CEO, computer consultancy
  • Print press operator

(not in chronological order)

With each job, save for one, I boosted my income considerably from one job to the next. However, that one set back killed my income growth for 3-4 years!

Nevertheless, here’s what you need to do to get a job. It’s a long list. The short list will come later.

  • Make yourself employable. This means get a college degree if the job you want requires it, the technical certification if the job requires it, the law degree and BAR exam passage if you want to be a lawyer, the credential if you want to be a teacher, etc. This step requires the most planning, patience, and time. But short-cuts abound.
  • Get a long list of references together. Get names, phone numbers, addresses, and emails. Get letters of recommendation. In short, network!
  • Speaking of networking, sign up for LinkedIn. There are a whole host of things you can do here. Check out Guy Kawasaki’s blog post about using LinkedIn to its fullest. Get LI “endorsements.”
  • Keep in touch with all of your classmates, teachers, co-workers, and employers (past and present). Talk to them long before you need to, lest your calls be labeled what they are — job calls.
  • Seek out companies you want to work for. Research them. Find out things about them that is not common knowledge (but make sure it’s objective and flattering). Put together a list of companies that you want to target for job opportunities. Find out who works there (using LinkedIn or other resources). Talk to them!
  • Be especially mindful of the Human Resources department where you currently work or worked. Use the recruiters there to find recruiters at other companies or headhunters / job search firms (they all talk to each other). If you’re currently in school, utilize your Employment Opportunities folks. Turn an internship into a job!
  • Open accounts at Monster.com, HotJobs.com, and CareerBuilder.com. Submit resumes and create cover letters. Update daily.
  • Find local job and resume boards and post your resume there. 
  • Use Craigslist.com for job opps. Post a “jobs wanted” ad (free) listing, using it as an announcement that you are available. It’s another form of broadcasting your resume.
  • Network!
  • Be on the lookout for opportunities at companies that you didn’t target. For example, you may prescribe a solution to a company that takes a real liking to you. Don’t forget that the CEO of Craigslist got his job by posting his resume on Craigslist. Obviously not a common occurrence, but if him, why not you? Luck = Preparation + Opportunity
  • Network!
  • Don’t be afraid to “go home.” If you liked a job but left out of frustration or the need to explore other opportunities, go back if that’s what your heart desires. We all get caught up in “you can’t go back home -itis” but you can. It’s your life. Do what makes you happy. Swallowing pride is not that hard if the outcome is what you truly want.
  • Did I mention networking?

The short list:

  • Network
  • Work the Net!

Nearly every good job I got through knowing the right people. I’d like to think that I got the interview because I had a good recommendation but that I got the job because I deserved it. Maybe. Maybe not. But whatever the case, knowing people and interacting with them bears fruit!

Alternative

This post is tied to several posts (Learning to Earn, Part 1 of … Many?, Ten Commandments of Personal Finance, 7 Things You Must Do Financially) I wrote a long time ago about alternative income. You’ll find “alternative income” all over the Personal Finance blogs; I implore you to read these articles first, and then come back. I’ll wait.

(Tapping toes. Joyously waiting for your return. Here are a few more from very reputable sources.)

The short story is that there are literally hundreds of alternatives to the traditional job. They all require that you start your own business, or at least require that you earn money outside the typical employer/employee relationship. Here’s a short list of alternative income ideas:

  • Self-employment — service business. Can be lawn mowing, landscaping, computer repair, energy consultant, home painting, mobile car detailing, closet organizer, Tupperware, etc. Mostly labor-intensive.
  • Affiliate marketing. Best done through having your own web site (or sites). You sell somebody else’s product(s) and earn a commission or fee. (Warning: Affiliate links ahead!) Some good affiliate programs are Site Build It!, oneNetworkDirect, and ClickBank.
  • Blogging. You earn money through ads, affiliate marketing commissions, and other sources (see How to Make Money From Your Blog by Steve Pavlina for a great blog post about this).
  • Sell your own products, like books, eBooks, videos, newletters, photographs, drawings. Amazon, Lulu.com, and eBay immediately come to mind.
  • Network marketing like Amway, Pampered Chef. Thousands of others. Many seem to place an emphasis on recruiting other salespeople. Not my cup of tea. BUT many folks have more than replaced their traditional income with income earning in Multi-Level Marketing (aka “MLM”).

Passive

So-called passive income is derived from doing as little as possible. The classic case is income from investments, such as interest and dividends. Wealthy people can afford not to work because they have assets throwing off income. Generally, this comes in the form of cash dividends from stock investments and interest from bond investments. You, of course, probably don’t have this luxury. That is to say, if you had assets like this, you wouldn’t be reading a blog about how to make money (you already have).

But there something to be said about this, from an asset perspective. In any income-generating endeavor, whether it is from working for somebody else, generating affiliate income, or building your own business, all the income you derive comes from an asset. Your ability to labor is an asset. Your ingenuity is an asset. Your capital is an asset.

Strive to make as much as possible of what you own a performing asset. If you’re at home sitting around watching TV, you’re wasting an income-generating asset (your intellect, or your ability to create something). If you’re delivering pizzas, you’re using your car (an asset) to generate income. If you buy a new gadget like an iPod, ask yourself if it can generate any income. If it can’t, think twice twelve times about buying it. See?

For most of us, it’s our time that is our most valuable asset. Time is finite, too. We only have so much of it. But we can turn that thinking on its head and instead of trading time for money, we can use an asset to produce an income. Think about that a bit.

When you think in these terms, your future becomes limitless. Time doesn’t matter any more. It’s what you do in the time you have that determines whether you earn a generous income or not.

I hope that I’ve given you some food for thought. To summarize, most of us just want a fair wage for the time we put in. That’s perfectly acceptable. However, I think I’ve given you some ideas about how to generate more than just a trade of your time for money. You can certainly enhance your monthly take-home pay by incorporating alternative and passive revenue streams into the mix.

Money isn’t everything. It’s the only thing. Wait. That’s only for football.
Enjoy life. Spend time with your family.

billspaced

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below
Download Doctor - December 16, 2008 Reply

I’d settle for a fastfood job right now. They aren’t hiring right now. No one seems to be hiring. I’m afraid America is about to collapse.

billspaced - December 16, 2008 Reply

I hear that, Download Doctor! Over 500,000 jobs lost just last month. It’s a tough time. Really tough.

I recently got notice that my job will be gone in July 2009 (earlier if the acquiring company can do it).

It is my hope that the job market turns around in 2009, but I’m getting reports that 2009 may be worse than 2008. I hope the “experts” are wrong.

Best of luck to you. It seems to me that the only really secure job is working for yourself. It’s hard to get started, so ease into it if you can.

Gabriel Girl - March 21, 2009 Reply

Thanks for the insight! I run a blog all about alternative ways to earn money: this will provide a lot of opportunities to explore! Thanks!

http://alternativelivings.blogspot.com

Joyce - December 10, 2009 Reply

What the hell is all this networking… With all the unemployed people NETWORKING who is giving jobs. How many people can you meet in all fifty states! Also many places now indicate they will not take applications for jobs not advertised. How about ones that say you must live in the area! I could write this stuff myself. I could become a job guru… no one says anything but NETWORK….

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