There are no jobs here anymore. What do I do now?
If the owners packed up the only plant in town and moved away, then your only choice might be to change your career. About 70 percent of those unemployed six months or longer do change careers. To support their families, the other 30 percent usually take jobs below their qualifications.
So, how can you find a good job outside your field?
Here’s a brainstorming guide I call, “Job Hunting on the 7Cs.” Try it and see where else you might fit in.
- Clear. What are your clear and obvious strengths and who else could use them? A former soldier might capitalize on his or her training and look into becoming a fitness coach, an adventure guide, an EMT, firefighter, or a small business owner.
- Compare. What is your current occupation like or similar to? A long-haul truck driver might consider becoming a long-route bus driver.
- Copy. Do you know someone with a job you’d like to have or copy? Jack watched Jill conduct how-to classes at a hardware store. She was showing homeowners how to install electrical outlets and wall switches. Jack thought, “I could copy her and offer classes at an electronics store on how to set up Wi-Fi and audio/visual networks for home owners and small businesses.”
- Combine. What could you add or combine? A business writer might take a comedy class, sharpen her sense of humor, and look for work as a stand-up comedian.
- Chop. What could you cut, chop, delete, or change? A carpenter might give up her hammer, enroll in a certification program, and start a new career as a home inspector.
- Corner. Is there a new angle, twist, or opposite approach? A bookkeeper might look for work with the opposition and become a tax examiner.
- Create. Ask, “What if…” “What if I used my (desire to help people) and took a job in (sales)?”
Note: Every occupation has certain requirements. Carpenters must know how to read building plans. Sales people must know how to close a sale. Managers must know how to motivate people. What’s the right stuff for your occupation? Don’t guess. Show that you have the specific skills the hiring managers are looking for.
Oh, one more thing—
You’ve been job hunting for months and you’re not having much luck. You’re tired and you’re discouraged. You’re ready to give up and throw in the towel. Now, before you do give up, let me tell you a quick story…
In a very famous experiment, Dr. Walter Mischel of Stanford University, met with 600 five-year-old kids over a period of several years.
At one point, each child was seated at a table in a quiet room and received a paper plate with a plump marshmallow on it.
Then, Dr. Mischel said to each of them, “You can eat your marshmallow now. But, if you wait until I come back, in 15 minutes, I’ll give you a second marshmallow.”
Well, as you might expect, it’s really hard for a five year old kid to resist a plump sweet marshmallow. Oh, they tried. But in the end, two-thirds of the kids gave up, they quit. They gobbled down their marshmallows. But, one-third did wait. They didn’t give up. They were rewarded with a second marshmallow.
How did those kids resist the temptation to quit? They came up with some simple ideas to stay motivated. Many sang songs and drew pictures to distract themselves. Some sat on their hands so they wouldn’t touch the marshmallow. A few turned their chairs so they couldn’t see it. Others pretended that their marshmallows were flavorless little clouds or dry cotton balls.
So what happened? Well, eighteen years later, Dr. Mischel followed up with the kids. Those who were able to wait the extra 15 minutes turned out to be an interesting group. They were more successful—in school, in their personal relationships, in their finances, and in their careers.
Why were they more successful in life? Simple, they were just a little more persistent, they tried a little harder.
What’s the point?
You want a good job? Spit out that marshmallow. Keep looking. Don’t give up so easily. Find a way to stay in the game. You can do it—you’re smarter than a five year old.
Volunteer some of your free time to a non-profit organization, a government agency, a small business, or even a big business. Then, become a high-value volunteer by giving more than the minimum effort. You could turn that free time into a job offer.
Sign up for a few evening classes at a community college or a vocational-technical high school. Learn a new job skill. Then, show an interest, participate in the class, let the instructor notice you. Instructors have contacts and connections. They might know an employer who’s eager to hire someone like you.
Contact your state’s One Stop Career Center. See if you qualify for a job training program. You could learn new skills for a new career—and the Career Center may have employers who are eager to meet you.
Start a tiny business. Do you have a talent or skill? Could you give music lessons, write resumes, take photos, translate, draw, decorate cakes, network computers, sew, sing, build or fix things? Do you have any free time? Could you baby sit, run errands, check on an elderly person, prepare a meal, clean things, move things, pull weeds, detail a car, walk a dog? Promote your new service to friends, relatives, and neighbors through social media. Give it a try—your business might take off and support you and your family for years to come. If it doesn’t, it will still look great on your resume. It will say that you are a go-getter—and give you some interesting stories to share during your job interviews.
Finally, build a list of all your friends and relatives who have moved away from your neighborhood. Reach out to all of them. Ask if there are job openings where they work. Keep in mind that hiring managers prefer to hire the friends of their workers. Explain that you would like to submit a job application to their employer. Ask if you could list him or her as a friend on your job application. Then, ask your friend if she would give your resume to her hiring manager and put in a good word for you. These two steps—having a friend who will recommend you for employment and applying for a job through the employer’s own website—are your best shots at getting interviews and job offers. Give them a try. They just might change your life.
Harry Dahlstrom is the author of three, million-copy best sellers—The Job Hunting Handbook, Surviving a Layoff, and Out of Debt. His new book, Let the Job Work for You—How to start and build your career from scratch, comes out in the summer of 2018. www.HarryDahlstrom.com
Other articles in this series:
- “Do you know someone who can’t find a job?”
- “How do I explain my long-term unemployment?”
- “There are no jobs here anymore. What do I do now?”