Es­cape Your Un­em­ploy­ment Trap

Focus of SWFL - - Beauty & Style - 66 FO­CUS of SWFL 2014 By Ginny Grim­s­ley

There’s good news for jobs in the United States. • In June, the pri­vate sec­tor added 288,000 jobs, ac­cord­ing to the Bureau of La­bor Statis­tics. • The un­em­ploy­ment rate has shrunk to 6.1 per­cent, the low­est since Septem­ber 2008, when the Great Re­ces­sion was just start­ing. The rate has dropped nearly 2 per­cent since the be­gin­ning of 2013. • The U.S. Pay­roll to Pop­u­la­tion em­ploy­ment rate (P2P), as tracked by Gallup, now stands at one of its high­est points since track­ing be­gan in Jan­uary 2010. • More com­pa­nies, states and ci­ties are ei­ther rais­ing their min­i­mum wage or con­sid­er­ing it. Does this mean that we can put our minds to rest re­gard­ing jobs and pros­per­ity? Not ex­actly, says Richard B. Al­man, prin­ci­pal and chief ca­reer/em­ploy­ment strate­gist of Re­cruiter Me­dia, owner of Re­cruiter­Net­works, the world's largest owner/op­er­a­tor of ca­reer web­sites. “It’s great that re­ports show im­prove­ment, but the good news comes with an as­ter­isk; we need to keep in mind the term that has be­come so common since 2009 – the ‘new nor­mal,’ which, in part, refers to a lower ex­pec­ta­tion for pros­per­ity,” says Al­man, who has man­aged hu­man re­sources for For­tune 100 and smaller multi-na­tional com­pa­nies. “Rais­ing the min­i­mum wage, for ex­am­ple, is a step in the right di­rec­tion for many, but it’s cer­tainly not hap­pen­ing ev­ery­where and it doesn’t guar­an­tee a liv­ing wage. Cal­i­for­nia raised its min­i­mum to $9 per hour, but that’s a state with a very high cost of liv­ing.” What is the qual­ity of th­ese new jobs, and how many hours do they of­fer? What about the Catch 22 en­snar­ing the long-term un­em­ployed, who can’t get work be­cause they don’t have jobs? And where’s the hope for the re­cent col­lege grad­u­ates who are deeply in debt and can’t find the jobs they’ve pre­pared for? Al­man has a blue­print that can help would-be em­ploy­ees in th­ese tough po­si­tions. • One word: vol­un­teer. “This is, by far, the best ad­vice I can of­fer if you feel like you’ve tried ev­ery­thing and it hasn’t worked,” he says. Vol­un­teer­ing can pay very high div­i­dends for any­one who is un­em­ployed, un­der-em­ployed or sim­ply look­ing for a new ca­reer tra­jec­tory. It helps cur­rent and fu­ture em­ploy­ees of any age. “You may not see the pay­off right away, but vol­un­teer­ing has many long-term ben­e­fits,” he says. • Vol­un­teer in po­si­tions that will build your re­sume´. “When you vol­un­teer, you can up­date your skills and re­sume´, which shows po­ten­tial em­ploy­ers that you’re not lazy,” Al­man says. “Ask for jobs that use the ca­reer skills you have. For in­stance, if you have a back­ground or de­gree in mar­ket­ing, look for op­por­tu­ni­ties to vol­un­teer in mar­ket­ing for a non-profit.” For those with stretches of long-term un­em­ploy­ment on their re­sume´, vol­un­teer­ing is the best way to show fu­ture em­ploy­ers that you value stay­ing ac­tive and build­ing new skills. And, if you’re a low-wage worker at a fast-food restau­rant, for ex­am­ple, you can have a whole new headspace in which to con­sider your fu­ture. • Work on de­vel­op­ing leads. “You can be just like ev­ery­one else who’s des­per­ate for a de­cent job or you can be proac­tive and build pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ships, which do more than re­sume´s to earn in­ter­views and em­ploy­ment,” he says. The non-profit sec­tor at­tracts peo­ple who are pas­sion­ate about a cause, a wide range of as­so­ci­ated pro­fes­sion­als and, fre­quently, peo­ple who are in high in­come brack­ets. • Where can folks go to vol­un­teer? A half-hour of re­search on­line can yield vi­able op­tions for le­git non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions. Other great sources are hos­pi­tals, which tend to work closely with non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tions. Hos­pi­tals also in­volve a wide va­ri­ety of pro­fes­sion­als. “Once again, if you work well and de­velop great work­ing re­la­tion­ships with oth­ers, you open your­self up to a whole net­work of pos­si­bil­i­ties,” he says. “Who you know can make the dif­fer­ence.”

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