Turning unemployment into employment

Unemployment- the word everyone dreads but can’t stop talking about. Stop for a day and count how many articles you come across discussing unemployment. It’s quite a fun little experiment- after the 1,289th article you will realize that each article discusses one of the following topics:

“Unemployment….it’s at an all time high” (really? thanks for the update)
“Employment continues to improve” (wait, what? I thought it was at an all time high?)
“Unemployment forecast- economy looks hopeful. Unemployment at an all time high, but employers look hopeful for 2010” (personal favorite- combines first two statements and states no opinion at all)

We get it- people are unemployed, economy sucks, and lets hope it gets better. It’s not going to be better tomorrow, nor the next day, or the next. Lets quit the whining, we got the message- economy sucks and the job market is tough. Those of us who find ourselves unemployed can’t change the economy- what we can do is change our personal state of well being?

With employers receiving 100’s- no wait lets be honest- 1,000’s of resumes a week. How can we stand out? Again- cover letter, scannable keywords- we’ve heard all the same things over and over again. Time to think outside the box. I don’t mean pulling some of the crazy extreme job approach antics that work for about 1 in 10,000 people. Don’t go stand on the highway with a sign that says hire me, don’t have your child post a video on YouTube begging employers to hire you, most of all- don’t stalk the employer by sending obnoxious gifts or “accidently” running into them in public (yes, these are all things people have done).

Do differentiate yourself. Start an organization, volunteer with a charity, join clubs- make your own opportunities. You know what you want from a career. If you don’t know, then it is time to get serious and figure out what you want from a career. Create a list of your top 10 professional and personal goals. This may sound like a trivial activity, but have you really thought about what you are doing with your life? Is raising a family important to you- then don’t look for jobs that have 80 work weeks. Want to be a marketing director one day? News flash- you need the experience. Stop applying for jobs based on their pay, and start applying for jobs that allow you to learn and build experience.

Then comes a quote I’ve said countless times “You need expreience to get a job, but I can’t get experience without a job. If they just gave me a chance.” Basically what I was realy saying was “I’m lazy, I want to be handed a job”. After drowning myself in self pity and blaming the economy, a lightbulb went off. Make your own experience. I want to work in social media for a non-profit organization. Ideally- I would love to use social media tools to help promote organizations and plan events to raise awareness. While I had some social media experience and have read countless books and articles- could I actually plan a fundraiser? No.

Last spring I volunteered with Rainbows for Kids– an amazing local charity that helps families who have children with cancer. I volunteered and helped plan their gala fundraiser. The overall experience was phenomenal. First hand experience triumphs just reading articles and books. Charities are a great outlet to gain experience and welcome anyone who is willing to donate their time. Look for charities that meet your goals. Don’t volunteer your time with a charity that you personally have no interest in. Idealist.org is a great tool for researching local organizations.

I was able to experience and learn from start to finish the steps involved with planning a fundrasier. Now, could I plan an entire fundraiser on my own yet? No, but I know more now than I did a year ago. I am also not unrealistic in believeing a non-profit would or should hire someone with only a bit of experience. I am realistic in believeing that I am more qualified because of the decision to volunteer. I am actively involved in the charity still, and it is a great networking tool. I obtained 2 interviews through the people I met while volunteering at the charity- you never know who you are going to meet.

Flash foward to present day. After re-evaluating my list, I realized my social media experience was lacking. I used social media with my previous job, but not to the level that I could make a career out of it. Back to self pity about not having a career in social media.

Results I gained from moaning: zero. Solution: plan a small fundraiser and utilize multiple social media outlets to advertise. The money raised from the fundraiser will be donated to the charity I volunteer at. I’m creating social media experience and incorporating my goal of working for a non-profit. People have asked- why are you doing this when you won’t make any money from it? Simple- the experience. I should also point out the fundraiser is a pub crawl scavenger hunt- why not have some fun drinking and socializing? No one is stopping me. The point is, I’m making my own opportunities. Either continue to moan and groan about the economy OR fix it. Turn your lightbulb on.

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