In this tough employment environment, there are literally millions of laid off workers who simply haven’t been able to find a good-paying job in their field. Finding a new job can be especially hard for older workers, or people who’ve been unemployed for more than twelve months.
If you find yourself in this situation, and you’re getting to your wits end (not to mention the end of your savings or severance package), you might consider taking a so-called “survival job” while you wait for the economy to improve, or a new opportunity in your field.
Many people who’ve lost work in this Great Recession find themselves “overqualified” or “overeducated” for the jobs they’re applying for, which can be a tough pill to swallow for anyone who put in the years and spent the thousands of dollars necessary to earn a bachelors or post-graduate degree.
The hard reality for some, is that jobs in their previous line of work might not be coming back. In today’s rapidly-changing global economy, new technologies can wipe out entire industries in just a few years. Imagine being a VCR repairman right now, for example, or an employee at a photo lab.
And so the challenge in this situation is finding work that will pay the bills, and not drive you crazy in the process. You might consider taking a temp job, or working two part-time jobs as a way of creating that necessary income stream. Self-employment is another option, and with the Internet there are a wide range of home-based businesses you could go into with minimal experience and start-up costs.
There are also many offline businesses you could start from home, such as a landscaping business, petsitting, housekeeping, or assisting an elderly or disabled person by running errands, cooking, or helping with their housework. You could become a consultant, and share your years of knowledge while earning a good income at the same time.
Another option, if your job skills and experience can be applied toward a continuing education course, is to become an instructor at a trade school or community college. This can also be a great way of networking and meeting new people in your field, and could even lead to a full-time position down the road.
You might also consider becoming a substitute teacher as a way of earning income while you wait for more permanent employment. Many school districts around the country are in dire need of good substitute teachers, and typically the certification requirements for subs are far less stringent than for those of full-time teachers. And who knows, if you find that you enjoy teaching, you could always go back to school and take the necessary courses in order to become a full-time teacher yourself.
Other survival jobs including becoming a taxi driver, a barber or hair stylist, or working as a cashier or clerk in a big box retail store like Target or Home Depot. Catering companies are almost always looking for workers. Or if you like to drive, you could get a CDL license and become a truck driver, either locally or doing longer-haul routes around the country.
Some additional survival job tips
If you’ve been unemployed for any length of time, or you’ve just graduated from college, or you’re “underemployed” and working at something that barely pays a living wage, I don’t need to tell you that it’s a rough job market out there.
We’ve been living through one of the worst employment environments since the great depression, with millions of people listed as having been out of work for 12 months or longer. Some workers have had to take temp or part-time jobs, while others have dropped out of the labor force entirely.
Some unemployed workers have had to move back in with their parents just to survive. And many recent college graduates have been unable to find entry-level employment in their field of choice, and so have had to take lesser jobs, or go back to school to earn a graduate degree.
But it’s not all doom and gloom
Even in this tough climate, there are signs of improvement in the economy in general, and the job market in particular. The economy has been averaging about 150,000+ new private-sector jobs every month, which isn’t great, but is still a sign of employment growth as we head into 2013. And overall unemployment has dipped below 8% for the first time since the Great Recession hit in 2008.
Some sectors are showing especially strong growth numbers, including health care and retail, two industries that never really seemed to be affected by the recession. Other strong sectors including manufacturing, office workers, science and technology, and more.
Skilled and semi-skilled workers are also finding employment outside of these sectors, in areas such as construction, the hospitality industry, environmental engineering, the hospitality industry, security, and more.
So if you’re out of work, or underemployed and looking for something better, there are rays of hope on the horizon, especially if you have the right skills, or are willing to go back to school to learn new skills. The following is my list of the top 5 job growth sectors for 2013:
Sector #1: Healthcare
The health care industry has been the top employment sector for years now, and is expected to stay strong as the baby-boomers get older and the US population ages overall. The aging population, coupled with sedentary lifestyles and a high obesity rate among adults, is creating a huge demand for medical services of all types.
And it’s not just doctors and nurses who are in demand. There’s also an urgent need for more physical therapists, pharmacists and pharmacy techs, nursing assistants, fitness instructors, dental hygienists and dentists, nursing home and assisted living specialists, and more.
So opportunities abound in this sector. The good news is that many of these occupations don’t require a four-year college degree, and some don’t require a degree at all.
Sector #2: Retail Sales
Retail sales is another sector that’s showing strong growth, as consumer confidence improves and people are spending more than in the previous couple of years. Buyers these days are especially looking for bargains, and discount retail is showing especially strong growth.
This despite the rise in online sales in recent years. Many people simply like to get out and actually see and touch the items they’re looking to buy, and they prefer speaking to a knowledgeable salesperson who can answer their questions.
There are also good opportunities in selling high-ticket items like cars and consumer electronics, especially if you’re willing to become an expert in your field. Some of these retail sectors also pay high commissions, which can make this sector one of the better-paying opportunities out there.
Sector #3: Information Technology
Despite the dot.com meltdown several years ago, there is still strong demand for professionals in the Information Technology sector. Only purchasing from sites like Amazon.com and Ebay have grown at double-digit rates in recent years as more people become comfortable with buying their goods online. And the big social media sites like Facebook and Twitter have people spending more and more time on the Internet.
There’s also been a shift to digital in a wide-range of government and private-sector industries, as the “paper office” of the Twentieth-Century continues to disappear. Almost every business and government agency has a website these days, and with mobile devices like tablets and smartphones growing in popularity, there’s expected to be strong demand in the IT sector for many years to come.
Sector #4: Science and Engineering
Skilled workers in the science and engineering fields will continue to have good job prospects into 2013 and beyond. The US is projecting a shortage in these areas in the future, as the country graduates fewer scientists and engineers than other industrialized countries like Japan and China.
These are also employment areas that are harder to outsource, as they normally require the worker to be present. Areas in this sector that are expecting strong growth include biology, environmental engineering, nano-technology, electrical and mechanical engineering, aerospace sciences and more.
Sector #5: Manufacturing & Industrial
Many employers in the manufacturing and industrial sector report that they want to hire and expand their operations, but they continually have trouble finding workers with the necessary skills. These type of jobs can include mechanics, machinists and machine operators, assembly line workers, technicians, laborers, and truck and delivery drivers.
These are blue collar jobs that pay well, usually don’t require a college degree, and some companies are willing to hire workers with no skills or experience and train them from the ground up. Trade schools and community colleges also have programs to teach the skills necessary to land a job in this sector.
According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers website, the US will experience a steady increase in job demand in 2013, and college degrees will play an increasing factor in new hires as well.
That’s good news if you’re graduating next near. According to recent NACE job outlook surveys, employers plan on hiring almost 15% more new colleges graduates from the Class of 2013, then they did from the Class of 2012.
Some industries and sectors are expecting more job growth than others. For example, employers are expecting double-digit hiring increases in such industries as finance, real estate, professional services, electronics and computer manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals.
Other areas of growth, and degrees that employers will be looking for, include bachelor-level degrees in areas like business, engineering, marketing and computer science.
Another finding in the survey indicated that while singing bonuses for new hires are expected to climb in 2013, overall salaries are not expected to rise as quickly, with slightly more than 50 percent of employers planning to increase starting salaries of bachelor’s degree graduates.
One item on the horizon that could throw a wrench into this optimistic job outlook for 2013 is if the country rolls off the so-called “Fiscal Cliff” on Jan 1. If lawmakers in Washington can’t reach a deal before then, tax rates will go up on all taxpayers in the US,. There are also billions of dollars in spending cuts that will take effect as well, including deep cuts in defense spending.
Most economists agree that this could send the economy back into recession at some point in 2013, and thousands of workers will lose their jobs in the defense sector alone. If we do fall back into a recession, then many companies will stop hiring in an effort to save money and “ride out the storm” until the economy starts growing again.
Another option that wouldn’t inflict as much damage to the economy is if the US does go over the fiscal cliff, lawmakers in Washington could then strike a deal where they lower tax rates on the middle class, and come up with spending cuts that wouldn’t have as much negative impact on employment and job growth during the new year.
That might be the best-case scenario at this point, and something to hope for as you’re celebrating with friends and family on New Year’s Eve.
If you’re in the market for a new job, or think you soon will be, be aware that the game has changed. If you’re an older worker, and you’ve been employed with the same company for years, the job search skills you learned in school may be out of date. Some recently unemployed workers have never used the Internet to search for a job, for example, and everything from resume resume preparation to online networking is a new challenge. You don’t want to be caught with an “objective statement” on your CV, or asking the interviewer questions you could have researched on the web before hand.
Running around gathering up job applications before you’ve even decided what your next job should be might sound like a pointless exercise, but it can actually be a productive way of finding the right job. One advantage of gathering up job applications is that it forces you to get out into the community and actively market yourself to prospective employers. So look to grab an application or two whenever you go out as a proactive way of finding that new job.
Your strategy should be to apply to a minimum of 3 jobs every day. You should manage a list of contacts of everyone you directly or indirectly make contact with. Be honest during your interview, but also be sure to let your prospective employer know about your skills, education, knowledge and professional experience. Also consider using the services of a career counselor or employment service in your job search.
Always do your homework and get as much information as you can about any new career you’re considering. Career counselors or employment agencies are great ways to get career information. Find someone who’s knowledgeable about a wide range of careers, and who can help match you with a career that’s right for you.
Many people believe that an employment service will immediately give you a job, which is a myth. This is an idea that you need to get out of your head. Employment agencies are in business to help you narrow your job search down to a few prime prospects that meet your criteria. Which is a real solution that you’re not likely to find on a job search website, where dozens or even hundreds of job openings are tossed out of a search engine.
The decision to search for a new career can be stressful, but it can also be one of the most exciting and rewarding times in a person’s life. After all, you can look forward to a whole new world of possibilities, like doing the work you’ve always dreamed of doing, fulfilling a personal life vision, increasing your income, and maybe even benefiting others as well. This could be your chance to return to school and get an advanced degree, or launch a new business, or move into that exciting new career field that’s always fascinated you.
In today’s ever-changing job market, the job searching skills you may have learned in school might not apply any more. From the interview to the resume, the rules have changed. For example, never ask an interviewer something that you could have found on the company’s website, and avoid putting any kind of “objective statement” on your resume. And be sure to take stock of where you are, and where you want to go with a new career.
A well-planned career change usually beings with some honest self-assessment. Take an inventory of your likes and dislikes, your goals, values, interests, and skills. You just might possess the skills and knowledge to move into an entirely new career field without any additional education or training. Then sit down and set some ambitious, but realistic, goals.
A good place to begin your goal setting is by identifying your career desires, then put them in writing. This gives you a basic framework to follow when you set your career goals. Then, with your career goals written down, you’ll have a clear target to aim for.
Needless to say, the majority of people don’t last very long in careers that they dread. Your career plan should always involve taking an objective look at yourself and determining what you like and don’t like in a job. Another idea is to see a career coach or take an online survey that will help you match your personality traits with a new job or career.
Time spent going over your career plans will help prepare you for the challenges and opportunities that will come your way. Career planning isn’t something you do in college and forget about, it and can should be done at every step of your career. That way if you suddenly find yourself out of work or downsized out of your current job, you’ll already have a solid plan in place.