Waiting Out the Recession? Five Things You Can Do to Move Your Career Forward
Millions of recent college graduates are stuck in a holding pattern—working low-paying jobs that have nothing to do with their chosen careers, living in their parents’ basement, and hoping times will improve. The recession holds new graduates back when they should be getting out there and proving themselves—and a recession at the beginning of your working life can stunt your career for years to come.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. If you have extra time on your hands because you’re unemployed or underemployed, there are a few things you can do to position yourself for a strong comeback—and move your career and life forward despite the recession. Here are a few ideas.
Start your own business
It might seem like a risky move—but that’s only if you choose the type of business that needs a lot of up-front capital. The Internet has made starting your own business cheap and easy in a variety of ways, however—and the great thing about the recession is that if you don’t have a job (or a very demanding job), you probably have a lot of time on your hands.
Trying to start your own business could be just a fun experiment. It could earn you some extra pocket change. Or, it could lead to a career of freedom, independence, and doing what you love. If you don’t have a lot of cash, start a business that’s inexpensive. Freelance graphic design, web design, and copywriting don’t have a lot of up-front costs—you just need a computer and the right design software. If you’re crafty and love to knit, make jewelry, or design edgy graphic tees, open an Etsy.com account and get your stuff out there.
If your start-up dream does require some start-up funds, don’t go to the bank. Instead, go to Kickstarter. Put up a video, explain your project, set a funding goal—and interested people will donate. The best part? No debt, no risk, no interest.
Most banks are at least fairly conscientious with their customers’ personal information. However, it’s important to be vigilant—and be sure your bank is being as careful as you need them to be.
Earning a online degree is a hit-or-miss move in a bad economy. It’s a good idea for some—because employers are raising the bar for required degrees to screen out candidates more and more. But it also adds to your debt load. Don’t go back to school for that online master's degree if you aren’t absolutely sure what degree you need for your career. In addition, don’t go back unless you’re positive you need that degree—nobody in your chosen field is getting hired without it. Adding to your debt load, while earning a degree you’re not even sure you need, isn’t a smart choice. But if you’re 100% positive you can’t get into the field you want without it, the recession is a great time to go back to school.
Join networking groups
If you don’t have a job, look on the bright side—at least you have plenty of time to network. Check out sites like Meetup.com, Facebook, Twitter, and others to see what groups there are in your area related to your industry. Head to networking events, Chamber of Commerce events, freelancing events, and more—whatever events will attract people in your industry. You’ll make some new friends—and you never know when you might meet someone who has a lead on a job.
Build a web presence
Have a lot of time on your hands? Now’s the time to set up your web presence. Start a profile on LinkedIn. Make sure your Facebook page presents an image that won’t scare off employers. Then start building a simple website promoting you for jobs. Upload your resume and start a blog related to your career interests—this will make you more searchable online. It will also demonstrate your knowledge and interest in the field. Most employers Google potential candidates they’re serious about, and if your professional blog is what comes up for your name—as opposed to embarrassing Facebook pics for others—you’ll definitely have an edge.
Pay off your loans
It might sound like bad advice for people in low-paying jobs—or those with no jobs—waiting out the recession. But for some, it’s possible to use this time to aggressively pay back loans. You could seriously cut expenses, take extra shifts, move back in with your parents—take drastic measures, in other words—and throw all your extra money at your loans. You might have to live very frugally for a few years, but at the end you’ll be debt free—and have the freedom to make a career change, start a new business, join the Peace Corps, or make other choices your debt is holding you back from now.
Getting through the recession won’t be easy. But it will be easier for those who use their time wisely. Don’t just languish in that dead-end job or give up on finding a job at all. Consider becoming your own boss, build yourself a professional web presence, and get to know people who could help you. For some, going back to school is a good idea—and for others, it makes sense to aggressively pay back loans. Look into your options—and take proactive steps to move things forward, despite the recession.
Corpus Christi Caller-Times: Waiting Out the Recession
In These Times: Young People Wait Out the Recession—And Their Youth
Kiplinger.com: Four Ways for Young Adults to Capitalize on the Recession
Examiner: Start a Small Business While Waiting Out Recession
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