Saturday, February 23, 2013

Unpaid But Not Unemployed: Beat the "Hire Only Those Who Have a Job" Syndrome

Companies are starting to hire only those people who already have a job. The long time unemployed are categorized as "unemployable", "undesirable", and "risky".

It's been in the news a lot lately. If you are out of work, many companies consider you untouchable, unworthy of being hired.

What can you do? You remain employed constantly by doing three things:

(1) volunteer at a non-profit or charity as a worker in your field of expertise

(2) serve as a consultant in your field of expertise and get a few clients, even if you charge them low rates

(3) start a blog wherein you demonstrate your skills and expertise on an ongoing basis.

If you do these 3 things, you are not technically "unemployed", though you may be underpaid or receiving no income at all.

The major benefit is that you are still working in your field, helping others succeed, and positioning yourself as an expert, with up-to-date skills and knowledge.

If you are unemployed, don't just look for a job, or mope around all bummed out, while collecting unemployment benefits.

Looking for a job isn't enough anymore. You've got to keep working in your field, whether you've got a paying job or not. You can't just park and put yourself into neutral, in a holding pattern, waiting and hoping for something to happen.

If you slump into lethargy, you'll fall behind in your job skills. Your expertise will become outdated. You'll get rusty, out of practice, and develop "expertise atrophy". 

Through disuse, you become weaker until you are unable to function at an employable level.

Figure out a way to keep using, and updating, your skills and expertise. If you're an unemployed chef, volunteer as a cook at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen. If you're an advertising writer, keep creating ads for brands you like, as spec ads.

Whatever you do for a living, keep doing it in some capacity. Even if no pay is involved. 

That may mean hanging onto the tools you need. Be very reluctant to sell or hock your tools at a pawn shop.  Of course, if you're starving, or about to lose your home, you may have to sell or rent out your tools. 

When your tools are gone, you can still use tools. Maybe you'll have to borrow tools, or rent them, or find free tools somewhere. 

If you can't access any tools, then be a consultant, an adviser, a mentor who tells people who have tools how to do the job. Figure out how to do something within your field, your industry, your career path. Even if it's not the exact thing you normally do to earn money. 

Keep improving and learning and upgrading your skills. Watch free YouTube tutorials, read blogs and forums related to your field, read free library books on the latest issues by the most respected authors.

DO NOT wallow in self-pity and rot away in depressed inactivity.

If you keep doing what you do for a living, in any capacity, and you keep learning, you will impress potential employers. 

You'll convince them you're obsessed with your field and you will remain in it, no matter what. Employers will admire your tenacity and passion. They'll respect your enthusiasm and desire to keep learning and applying what you learn.

Remember, if you're volunteering at a non-profit or charity, or consulting and advising individuals and companies, you're technically not "unemployed", you're just unpaid.

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