After reading an article related to entrepreneurship, I decided to post it to my Facebook page. Moments later, I received a comment from an acquaintance that said, "Get a job." For reference, I've been unemployed since August 2011 and currently working as a freelance digital/social media consultant.
My first reaction to the, "get a job," comment was a mixture of embarrassment and anger. Embarrassed to be in this situation and angry that someone I've loosely kept in-touch with would write such a succinct and overly simplified demand of what I should do with my time. Don't get me wrong, my intention is to get another job within my field or come up with a creative way to make money in this market. That's why I had been reading into entrepreneurship.
My second reaction was more on the lines of, and to quote Charlie Kelly from It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, "Oh, get a job? Just get a job? Why don't I strap on my job helmet and squeeze down into a job cannon and fire off into job land, where jobs grow on jobbies?!"
As we all know, "job land" is nowhere in sight. The U.S. unemployment rate is over 8 percent and job growth is weak. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. employers have averaged adding 252,000 jobs between December 2011 and February 2012. In the last two months alone (March and April) employers have only added an average of 135,000 jobs. That leaves a tremendous amount of people who are ready to work but will not currently be given that opportunity.
This also means that competition for those very few open positions is fierce. One either has to kick ass on paper or kick ass at networking (most likely a mix of both) in order to land one of those coveted roles. The other option is making your own way by bringing a product or service to market.
So, in desperate hopes to appease those who feel that people like me should simply, "get a job," I have a few equally simple tips for employers, peers and fellow unemployed.
To employers: I imagine that you're experiencing a highly elevated applicant pool for any given position. Selecting the "right candidate" must be incredibly difficult in this type of economy due to an increased number of quality candidates. Yet, my hopes are that certain candidates aren't simply being "screened out" just because they're unemployed. From speaking with friends who work in HR and going through the process of being unemployed for nine months now, this type of discrimination does seem to occur on occasion. Certain states are even passing legislation to further crack down on this illicit practice. I would hope that employers understand that people lose their jobs for a variety of reasons. To remove chance of discrimination and hire the best candidate available, maybe employers could provide questions that test a candidate's aptitude, problem solving abilities, and personality (for culture fit).
To peers: Telling an unemployed person to simply "get a job" does not solve anything. If you're the type of individual who's so interested in that persons life and job status then offer to introduce your friend to someone who may be looking to hire or use that person's skill set. Overall, understand that there is a process to "getting a job" and that process in this economy is one of most difficult trials someone can experience.
To fellow unemployed: We all want to get better and smarter in our respective field, especially with vigorous competition. Below are some resources that I've found extremely interesting and helpful as I continually look to create and take advantage of current opportunities available.
For me, this period of unemployment has allowed me to sharpen my skills, reassess my strengths and weaknesses, and broadened my knowledge on a variety of topics.
- 3 Biggest Entrepreneur Opportunities Over the Next 3 Years (Article covering 3 markets to keep on eye on for opportunities.)
- Indeed.com (Great website to search jobs from all over the Internet)
- AppSumo.com (A daily deals site for digital/web folks. Learn about virtually any digital/web topic you like and offers great courses on proving that anyone can make some extra money on the side)
- The Lean Startup by Eric Ries (Blueprint on how to effectively and efficiently build a business with little overhead cost.)
- One Simple Idea by Stephen Key (Introduction into inventing and licensing products.)
- Social Media ROI by Olivier Blanchard (How to align the social web with any business objectives.)
Blog update: Adam has been employed since July 2012.