Finding a Job in a Bad Economy - Main Street Meltdown
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Main Street Meltdown

Finding a Job in a Bad Economy

 With consumer confidence sinking and the U.S. plunging into the worst recession since World War II, unemployment has become a big concern for a lot of people. Many major companies are trimming their payrolls, and nationwide unemployment now tops out at more than six percent.  Even worse:  once economists realize and officially declare that the U.S. is in a recession (which they have recently done), unemployment tends to climb as consumer confidence wanes, businesses start to feel the effects and try to minimize costs by reducing their staffs.  

Service industries and manufacturers, especially the auto industry, will be especially hard-hit.  That means hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people lining up at the unemployment office and seeking new jobs.  Recent college graduates will also find a very competitive job market once they have their degree in hand.  Still, jobs can be had, if you know where to look.  

1.  Network, network, network.  Expand your circle of friends by joining civic and professional organzations, charities, chuch groups...anyplace you might find people who work in your industry that may be in a position to help you should the worst happen and you need to find a job.  The more people you know in your profession (or a related profession), the better your prospects when looking for a new job.  Your friends and acquaintences could not only tell you about any unadvertised openings, but also put in a good word for you, depending upon how well they know you.

2.  Be prepared.  Even if you think your job is safe, now is a good time to dust off and update that resume.  Make sure you have good references on your resume.  Keep an eye out for any possible job opportunities you could take advantage of if something happens to your company.  Shore up your emergency fund, and try to have 3-6 months of living expenses socked away in case you lose your job and need the safety net.  

3.  Be the "model" employee.  Make yourself indispensible at your current job.  Learn how to do things that may be a bit outside your job description, volunteer for extra projects and don't be a complainer about your current work load.  When employers trim staff, they will target unhappy employers and those doing the minimum as the first to go.  You might still get the axe, but at least you'll get a good reference out of the deal. 

4.  Don't overlook freelance work.  If you don't find another full-time job right away, look at doing something on a part-time basis.  Consider consulting for another company (or the one you just left, if it's available).  Jobs aren't just outsourced to overseas locations.  Many companies look to farm out some of their work to freelancers and consultants right here in the U.S. on an "as-needed" basis.  During the recession of 1991, I was "unemployed" for six months.  The truth is, while I didn't have a full-time job during that time, I never really did stop working.  I worked part-time for several different companies and did numerous one or two-time only projects for others.  It didn't replace my full-time income, but it was better than not earning anything at all.  Besides, one of those part-time jobs led to me receiving a full-time job when the opening became available.  

5.  Brush up on your skill set.  Make yourself more employable by expanding your skill set.  If you work in an office environment you should know how to use all of the programs in the Microsoft Office suite of products including Powerpoint, Excel and Word.  There are free tutorials available online.  If you have fallen behind on continuing your education in your profession, now is the time to take some continuing education courses and obtain the skills you need in this competitive job environment.  

6.  Have an "exit strategy".  What would you do if you lost your job today?  A lot of people don't like to think about it, but they should have a "Plan B" in case the worst happens.  Would you know where to look for another job?  Do you know people in your industry that can give you good leads on other work?  Do you have an idea for a business you would like to start up on your own?  The time to come up with other options available to you is when you have a job, not when you are desperately seeking a new job.  

If you do find yourself out of work, having a plan of action will put you ahead of the game.  Make finding a job your new "full time job" and be very good at interviewing (practice makes perfect), have a stellar resume and identify other jobs you can do other than the one you currently have.  You might also consider moving to another are that does have jobs available and taking a little less pay to get your foot in the door at a new company.  When it comes to replacing a job and surviving in a rough economy, no option should be off the table.

 Main Street Meltdown Recommended Reading: It's a Recession, Not a Depression



agent see said:

Think education. Classes to help you add to your skills to a completely different line of work. Funding can be provided by companies, grants, and dear old uncle Sam.

School can also be ways for you to meet new contacts to find jobs or chances to do things you might not have at regular company jobs.

Education can make you more valuable at your current job or land you that raise that might otherwise not be obtained.

December 9, 2008 4:18 AM

Festival of Frugality #155: The Chic-Tacky Christmas Edition | Greener Pastures: Personal Finance said:

Pingback from  Festival of Frugality #155:  The Chic-Tacky Christmas Edition  | Greener Pastures: Personal Finance

December 9, 2008 6:35 AM

Monroe on a Budget » Weekly tips from the money bloggers said:

Pingback from  Monroe on a Budget » Weekly tips from the money bloggers

December 9, 2008 2:09 PM

Useful Things » Blog Archive » Useful Things Weekly Link Round-Up said:

Pingback from  Useful Things  » Blog Archive   » Useful Things Weekly Link Round-Up

December 11, 2008 7:09 AM

cheapChic said:

Live without  the fancey things of life, we all did it before why not again....I dare you...:)-

December 25, 2008 8:00 PM

CheapNLazy said:

Network -  Joined a group in desired field but all are self-employed w/o

              employees (1 has 1 employee/not hiring more).  And no

              professional groups for ex-Office Managers, Admin Asst,

              Clericals, Escrow, Delivery, manual labor.  From other coast.

Prepare -  Too late, dh/I out of job since May.

Expand -   Too late, would if could.

Freelance - Still trying.

Educate  - Hundreds of people w/more experience & education getting

              the jobs that I easily qualify for.   Further over-qualifying

              myself with more education that I can't afford won't help

Strategize - Did.  Sold house & 1 car, Moved from West Coast (no

              jobs) to bigger metro area on East Coast (more jobs but

              more applicants), and since May economy is worse.

Make finding a job your new "full time job" -I do.

Be very good at interviewing - Fair & can't practice for real w/o oppty.

Stellar resume - Fair.  I suppose

Identify other jobs - Yes, manual jobs (except UPS packing - bad back

              & no health insurance to help it), Walmart, everything

              (except the astronomical # of scam "jobs" advertised,

              and not restaurants because I have a chronic cough).

Move to jobs - Mentioned above.  Expanded to state search.

              Also can't afford another move w/o job(s) in place.

Sorry, just venting.  I need job opportunities, not career advise.

December 30, 2008 11:00 PM

SavvyFrugality said:


I have been in the exact same position in which you currently find yourself.  During the recession of 1991, I found myself out of work and I was unemployed/underemployed for a good 6 months.  I racked up huge amounts of debt and it literally took my family years to dig ourselves out.  Like you, I also had many reasons why there was no "opportunity" and I couldn't get a job.  Looking back, I would have, should have, taken the first decent opportunity that came along, no matter what it was.  Look, a job is a job, and if you're working and making an income, at least you'll be able to make it through a rough time until something else comes along.  It's easy to get depressed and feel like giving up.  In fact, during my stretch of unemployment I actually did stop looking for work and just spent the day sleeping and watching TV.  I reasoned there were no jobs, so why waste my time, right?  The fact of the matter is no one will just hand you a job.  You either have to hunt one down or create one for yourself by freelancing or starting your own business.  The tips I gave in my post were written from the standpoint of someone who has been out of work, and the things I should have done back then to get myself back in the workforce.  You don't need to have an actual job interview to practice for an interview.  Have a friend or acquaintance do mock interviews with you and be brutally honest with your about your interviewing skills. If they aren't comfortable with that, there are usually job skills training courses available through job training centers, universities or vocational schools.  You can never have enough training or education.  People who tell you that you are "overqualified" are really telling you that they don't want to pay you what you are worth.  

By the way, I finally ended my six months of unemployment when my jobless benefits ran out.  I sat down one day with the Yellow Pages and cold-called every business in my job field until I found one that had an opening.  I scheduled an interview and a week later I had a job.

You do what you have to do.  Good luck.  I hope you find something soon.

January 8, 2009 11:58 PM

oahqnam8045 said:

In bad economic times, jobs are scarce. When you are fresh out of college and have no professional experience, the only way to land a job is to know someone who can give you one or introduce you for a job

April 26, 2012 5:03 AM

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