Home Work Job Search Stop Searching, Start Working: 2 Things You Should do while Unemployed

“Make your life one giant networking event.” ~Dan Schawbel

I graduated college in May 2009 and it wasn’t until I let go of the idea that I needed to spend all day every day looking for work and well, start working, that I began getting job leads. It’s the NUMBER ONE rule of the job hunt – make looking for a job your permanent job. 9 to 5, seven days a week.

Except is that really the best way to find work? Is the best way to network and find job leads to shout from the rooftops that you’re for hire? What if you were passive? What if you spent half that time actively job searching and the other half actually working? Working how, you ask? Temping and freelancing my friends, temping and freelancing.

We all know that the best way to get a job is through contacts. The way to make contacts is through networking. The best way to network is not to hand out your business cards with wild abandon at miscellaneous events serving punch or cold call every person you’ve never met; the best way is to actually show people what you’re made of.

Without a full time permanent job, finding temporary and freelance work are the best ways to show your worth. They put you in touch with people in your industry, build your portfolio and make it possible to can eat on a regular basis. What’s not to love?

For those of you not looking for a permanent job, this article is still for you. All of us could use extra cash to pay off debts, open up a savings account and/or start something entrepreneurial. Personally, I like shoes.

So let’s take a little look-see at how to go about this:

Freelancing

Many people don’t see freelancing as an option because there’s this mentality that you’re either a freelancer or you’re not. But you can take a project here and there for the reasons I mention above. Getting freelance work through friends, using Craigslist and contacting your dream company directly puts great companies (who may not be hiring full time but do need a relevant project taken care of) on your resume, generates contacts and builds up an impressive portfolio.

My favorite ways to find freelance work:

Craigslist – While it may be the ultimate site of all things spammy, Craigslist actually has some great freelance resources. Use the search function for keywords on jobs you might like to do.

LinkedIn – This site is one of my favorites because it’s a super fast way to connect with everyone you’ve ever met and take them straight to your resume. Also, the LinkedIn Answers section is the best way to highlight your expertise on any given subject. I can’t tell you how many projects I’ve landed because I rock out solving other people’s problems. Try and answer 1 to 2 questions every day in your field and watch your contacts grow…

Word of mouth – I know, a little 18th century, but it’s still the best way to advertise. Enlist family and friends to spread the word. However, it does help if you have friends.

Offer free work – THIS DOES NOT MEAN INTERN. Don’t start doing a 9 to 5 copying job masking as a “learning experience.” No, offer to write an article/guest post, consult on a project or give a free seminar. People love free, but it doesn’t mean you need to lower your standards.

Check out Freelance Switch – One of the best websites out there for freelancers, helping you stay organize, land more work and provides even more excellent resources.

And at the end of the day, you might find you like freelancing best and decide not to take a permanent position at all!

Temping

Temporary jobs are great. They keep you busy when you’re ready to tear your hair out, add to your resume to give you experience, gives you a chance to prove yourself, can possibly turn into a permanent position and allows you the chance to network and gain referrals. And according to the American Staffing Association (ASA), around 18% of temp jobs a year turn into permanent positions.

To avoid wasting your time, try and hone in on the industry you’d eventually like to be in full time. Because you’d otherwise be spending all your time looking for work anyway, hold out for a cool project you’d really like to work on. Aim to work with temp agencies that cater to your industry.

Here’s a really fabulous post on how to get and keep a temp job.

A Note!!!

I want to reiterate that freelance and temp work are not synonymous with internship. I’m in no way suggesting you should take an internship while you “wait” for the perfect job to waltz on by. I have a pretty public hatred of internships as they’re are really just glorified assistants jobs, so you might as well get paid for the work you’d be doing anyway. Many temp agencies can set you up with part-time gigs in the field of your choice and being a paid employee of a company is always more impressive than being an intern. This also gets around not having the “mandatory” internship on your resume.

Instead, become an expert: Read the top publications in your field, get books, watch webinars, make friends with bloggers – not only does this create contacts and integrates you into the professional community, but slowly establishes you as an expert (basically, all the things you can get from an internship).

Hopefully by now you all realize people hire people, and best way to meet those people is through helping them out.

14 replies to this post
  1. Nice insights, Marian. Thanks. I think that freelance is the new full-time nowadays, as more businesses are downsizing and moving their operations online. I guess, what’s great with the web is the flood of tools that are free to use. You just have to create your portfolio and wait for your inbox, while you can still have time to check local leads or just bask under the sun. It’s all about one’s perception of work that will give way to success, or failure. Just because you work at home doesn’t mean that you are someone with a ‘lesser’ value than those who are sitting in their cubicles.

  2. Although I agree with the above 3 comments, I want to clarify something. Marian is not necesarily saying that the end-all is freelancing or temping. She is saying that these are two great ways to
    network in a natural way.

    These days many employers prefer to “test drive” before they hire. Also, you may not directly be hired by the place you freelance or temp but you will definitely meet other people within the organization who know other people. It also gives you a chance to see if you’d like working for this company and seeing who the key players are.

    Lastly, don’t be afraid of giving away some work for free to show an employer what you can provide them. This is especially relevant if you are an editor, graphic designer, web designer, marketing, PR or advertising professional.

    Nicole

  3. Marian,

    As somebody who spend the greater part of 2009 unemployed I think you’ve made some rock solid points. The worst way that anybody can spend their time when looking for a job is by doing nothing but looking for a job. NOt only is it a waste of time, it’s really depressing and completely screws with your state of mind. It’s just not healthy. Freelaning and temping are great options and people can even build the skills to do certain things if they don’t have them because you can learn almost anything for free online.

  4. Bookmarking this. This is amazing. I especially love

    ” Offer free work – THIS DOES NOT MEAN INTERN. Don’t start doing a 9 to 5 copying job masking as a “learning experience.” No, offer to write an article/guest post, consult on a project or give a free seminar. People love free, but it doesn’t mean you need to lower your standards.”

    because it speaks to the misappropriation of the term “intern” as coffee and copies, rather than in being a career professional who’s learning as they work. And, fyi, unpaid internships that are essentially coffee and copies at a for-profit may actually be illegal, since you’re working for under minimum wage.1

    Yes, most resumes demand internships in some capacity. But the first two years after college are pivotal in professional development2. Get a running start with that internship; it will set you up well for the rest of your career.

    1. New York Times. “Growth Of Unpaid Internships May Be Illegal, Officials Say.” http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/03/business/03intern.html?emc=eta1

    2 The Atlantic. “How a New Jobless Era Will Transform America.” http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/201003/jobless-america-future

  5. […] Stop Searching, Start Working: 2 Things You Should do while Unemployed – Freelancing is one of the best ways to fill the gap while unemployed. In addition to extra cash, freelancing will keep you current and introduce you to people who may just decide to hire you. This article provides a few tips on how to approach freelancing (which is better than freeloading!). […]

  6. […] Stop Searching, Start Working: 2 Things You Should do while Unemployed – Freelancing is one of the best ways to fill the gap while unemployed. In addition to extra cash, freelancing will keep you current and introduce you to people who may just decide to hire you. This article provides a few tips on how to approach freelancing (which is better than freeloading!). […]

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