Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Thinking Outside the Jobbox

Being unemployed has required due diligence for weeks now. There has been plenty of time for filing of papers and keeping of copious notes. The first real payoff of any kind comes today, as I head out for my first interview since I was laid off in early January.

Whatever vigor I had a few weeks ago has admittedly waned a little since then. The job market is tough and the responses to my job applications and resume submissions have been slow to almost none. I am well-assured that is far from my fault. But I don't rest assured, if you know what I mean. Now that my unemployment benefits have kicked in, it's hard not to focus on how small of a payment those checks really are. And for me it's only been less than two months... gulp. After what I saw about the long-term unemployed on 60 Minutes last Sunday, I've felt an urge to swallow, hard.

That could be me. They were quality people with great resumes. They, too, had felt they had done everything they could. But they had been trying for a lot longer now. Still, this conversation shouldn't drop down too far--the segment showed there is hope. These people were getting through with innovative help and by thinking outside the box. For example, a man in his fifties was taking on a job as an intern, with a chance to earn his way to a full-time position. Well, why not, right? When you're jobless, internship is a job. He was happy as a lark, having something to do, a reason to get up and go somewhere every day. I guess there's a big employment benefit that's often overlooked: being productive and feeling useful.

I learned from the show that being jobless for a long time does seem to sap a certain amount of zest from even the sparkiest of folks. I don't want that to happen to me, or anyone I'm trying to be a cheerleader for. So while I do think it's best to keep at it, nose to grindstone and all that, I also think we need to maintain some side doors to other possible lands of whimsy and hallways of wonder. Would you ever consider going back to a job of your youth and starting over as an intern?

Maybe you have way more potential now. What about moonlighting--ever done it? Can it become a stronger possibility, now that you're unemployed? After all, you have time on your hands. You can give something a go, when you could never find time To Do it before.

I have some back roads and less trodden paths identified for myself. I also look around at other parts of the country, just to see what the cost of living would be like, if I worked for less in a place where it costs less to live. I've thought about having two part-time jobs instead of one full-time. Maybe there's room to grow a position along with a company. Even this blog was a seedling of an idea for potential income in the future. I don't know how yet...consulting, affiliates?

The point is, if jobs were boxes, you've kind of been dumped out of your old one, yes? No need to only search for the same kind of box to hop right back into. If you ever had a cat, you know how to do it. Fit yourself in there, even if it's sort of the wrong shape, go ahead, give it a squish and a squeeze. Or tip that other big box over and crawl inside the back corner real cool-like, cuz, yeah, you meant to do that.

Look, maybe you could work for a celebrity! www.findcelebrityjobs.com

Maybe you could get a job in the Caribbean! www.jobinthesun.com

Or maybe you could just get inspired, scratch a couple ideas together, and think outside your jobbox for a while. What might you do if there wasn't much holding you back? Be curious, like a cat. Tell your iPhone to call you Whiskers.

Just remember to change that when you go on your next job interview.

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