When I go back to the church where I went to my weekly job club (aka career ministry), ten years ago, my knees still get weak. I get nervous about sharing my 30 second pitch, and “networking.” You see, I’m an introvert, and walking into a room full of job seekers is not my idea of a “good time.”
But this job club was perhaps one of the most important things I had done as a job seeker. I went from doing this job search thing alone, in my house, to talking to others and really figuring out what I could do better, and as important, realizing that I wasn’t alone in this seemingly horrible journey. I got support and training, and I’ve been an advocate of job clubs ever since.
Humbling myself, going regularly, and even participating, defined the pivotal point in my job search. Even though I chose to start JibberJobber, instead of pursue a job, the time I spent with others, serving and getting served, brought me out of my depression and hopelessness.
My question to you is this: what job clubs are in your area that you go to, or would recommend? Let’s get a list of these resources, participate where we can, and encourage others to go. Leave a comment or email me and let me know about job clubs local to you.
One of the first thoughts that comes to mind is: “Um, I live paycheck-to-paycheck! I only have enough money for the next 10 days!”
I’ve been happily employed, unhappily employed, unemployed, and an entrepreneur. At various times, in all of those different phases, I have felt poor. I’ve been thinking about this post for months, and I have finally resolved to just write this post, even though I’m going to miss something. So that’s what the comments section is for!
Here are ten things I’ve done to feel less poor. If you have anything to add, please leave a comment.
I buy razors from Costco. I get a package of 52 for around $35. Maybe $45, I can’t remember. They aren’t cool, robotic, electric, swivel-headed, but they do have 3 blades on each disposable razor. I used to have the cool ones, with replacement cartridges, but those were more expensive than this find. I shave maybe twice a week, which isn’t much, so this box lasts me forever. I get the right tool for the job, without feeling like I’m spending luxury prices.
Buy a new (shirt, jeans, socks, etc.). It’s amazing how high quality, great fit clothing can make you feel “like a million bucks.” I’m not saying to swap out your entire wardrobe, but if you feel poor, and then dress in either really cheap clothes that don’t last long, or your old clothes that used to look good but are now faded, sagging, etc., you’ll only extend how you feel by how you look. For me, just getting nice, new socks, make a difference on how I feel. Instead of “I’m not worth it,” switch that around, and move on from feeling like all you deserve is stuff you really don’t want to be seen in public in.
Fix that dumb thing that has been bugging you. Sometimes there’s a thing that is bugging us 24×7… perhaps it’s a chipped faceplate for a light switch (the fix is less than a dollar), or a wall that just needs to be repainted (for less than $30), or maybe even just washed! Instead of mentally moping about how you’ll do it when you can afford it, do it now, and treat yourself with respect.
Re-evaluate expenses. I love walking in a store past the satellite TV company sales reps. They say “what do you do for TV?” When I respond that we don’t have TV, they don’t know what to say. Speechless. Don’t get me wrong, we watch plenty of shows, but we don’t subscribe to a monthly, other than our internet connection. Look at all of your monthly committments, and question which ones you really need. You might be surprised that you are spending $20/monthly here, or $80/monthly there, and not getting any value out of it. That can add up to hundreds and hundreds of dollars of money that could go towards your needs.
Buy (and eat) healthier food. When I eat unhealthy, I feel it. Maybe it’s because I’m in my 40’s. Maybe it’s because my body is malnourished. Contrast that to days I eat really healthy. Feel great, more energy, etc. Instead of sitting around like a slug, feeling full and bloated and low-energy, I am anxious to get up and get out and work and/or enjoy. Sitting around gives you more time to think about all the stuff you don’t have, where getting out helps you slow down and enjoy the here and now. Is healthier more expensive? Kind of. But if you feel like it’s too expensive, than start a garden… even if it’s just in your living room.
Change your idea of “fun” from expense-based to free (hiking, people watching, bird watching, etc.). What is your perfect idea of having fun? It probably includes spending money on a trip, a ticket, a meal. Those have been rewards… what if we change our idea of fun to be more of an experience that we can have without spending money? When I took my family on a trip last summer, the most amazing, fun places we stayed were campgrounds, not hotels with pools. The campgrounds allowed us to connect with nature and the community we were in. We socialized with others, and there’s one family we still have a relationship with.
Stop pouring over the news and social media. This is a great place to compare your life and abilities with others… and many times it’s harmful. I love seeing what others are doing, and celebrating their accomplishments, but it’s easy to compare your seemingly dull everyday life with what they post, which is usually the highlights of their life. Why not go make your own highlights, away from the great comparison machine?
Focus on paying down your debt and punching interest in the nose. Feel poor? Maybe you are. But you don’t have to be that way forever. I love listening to the success stories of people who call into Dave Ramsey’s show. They are laser focused on addressing the problem head-on, and determined to change their life. Stop ignoring your financial issues. Learn about them, figure out a plan, and work your plan.
Pick up a revenue stream that empowers your earning potential. When I was writing 51 Alternatives to a New Job I decided to try something I had never done before. Long story short, I went out with my kids and we made about $40/hour painting house numbers on curbs. I had no idea that you could make that much money doing that. There are easily dozens and dozens of things like that you could do. Pick up dog poop in a neighbor’s yard…. not anything to brag about, for sure, but it could give you an extra $20. You don’t make that money sitting around watching shows.
Be genuinely happy for others’ financial success, vacations, new purchases, upgrades, etc. I think it’s human nature to look at someone else’s fortunes and only be jealous because of the state of our misfortunes. Whether they earned it, inherited it, or even deserve it is not our concern. It’s not within our control. But how we react is. Can you celebrate their new house, or upgrade, or new shoes, or new job, or great haircut? If you can’t celebrate theirs, what makes you think you are going to enjoy yours, when it comes? Practice appreciation by appreciating, and when you get gain, you will appreciate your own stuff more.
Probably everyone on my blog feels financially poor to some degree or another. This list is my attempt to share some ideas and tactics on how to minimize those feelings. What are YOUR suggestions?
I met Denny Stockdale a few years ago, while speaking in the Minneapolis area. Denny is a great guy, and has been a passionate supporter of JibberJobber, and JibberJobber users, for years.
Denny is the organizer of the Enouragement Matters Telesummit, which is FREE, over 12 days, with 12 sessions. Go to this page and register (at the bottom). Denny wants you to attend the sessions if you say yes to any of these:
Have you ever pursued a big dream that didn’t come true?
Have you ever been afraid of failure?
Have you ever let the past interfere with the present?
Have you ever had “negative” self-talk?
Have you ever felt under-appreciated?
I want you to sign up for this free event if you are (a) a job seeker, and/or (b) a (wanna-be) entrepreneur.
Denny is awesome, and his guests seem like they are really cool. Here’s what the agenda looks like (more details here… also, these are all at 8pm EST except the two on Saturdays, which are at noon EST)
Saturday, October 24: Denny Stockdale : The power of Encouragement, Faith, and Curiosity
Looks pretty awesome, right? Sign up for the free event, and then attend as many as you can. I imagine we can all use some encouragement!
NOTE: Denny emailed me and let me know that the event is free, and he will offer the recordings for a nominal price. If you can’t make it to the live recordings, that is a great option. I won’t be able to give anyone the recordings… you can get those through Denny
My volunteer experience didn’t work out as well as I would have liked… but if I had to do it over, I would definitely look for more volunteer opportunities.
Aside from increasing your likelihood of getting a job (because of the networking you are doing), volunteering gets you out of the house, and doing something productive. This has to be a good way to keep your attitude in check.
Last week I spoke at an employment center and brought this up. From what we say to how we say it, what we wear to how we shake hands, where we look to what our business cards look like… every thing we do, during our entire job search (even at a family BBQ), we are communicating.
Our communication screams: “I’m ready, bring it on, and introduce me to those contacts” or it cries “I’m hurt, and I’m going to wallow in it here, licking my wounds,” or it declares “I gave up caring a few weeks ago… it’s no use.”
Read the post. And then ask yourself if what you are communicating is really what is in your heart, or where you are at.
Here’s some fallout from my 2014 April Fools prank (where I laid myself off, even though I’m the sole owner of JibberJobber)…. on my LinkedIn Group I got this message:
My reply to her, and the group:
No one has to educate me on the real pain and suffering of job seekers. You see, I was there, but that was during an awesome economy. During a crappy economy (like that of the last seven (give or take) years, if you can’t get a job you can at least blame the economy. People might say “when the economy picks up…” But when you are out of work during a great economy, and can’t hardly land an interview or an offer, there is seemingly nothing to blame but you. That means a lot of self-finger-pointing, wondering how messed up you really are… which leads to unnecessary and unhelpful pain and suffering in abundance.
The bigger issue, for me, is coping with challenges and trials. How do you do it? I tend to gravitate towards humor. Not always, of course… but I’ve been doing this long enough (8+ years, since I got laid off in January of 2006), to know that there will indeed be an end to unemployment. That might be because you get a dream job, or you get a “step job” (that is a job that is a stepping stone as you continue to look for your dream job), or you start your own business, or you adjust your expenses and simply retire. I’ve seen this happen many times over the last few years.
I’m convinced that dealing with our temporary situation in a healthy way is critical to getting out of our healthy situation. Let me give you two examples:
Coping Strategy 1: eating what my tongue wants me to eat, without boundaries, and my stomach feeling satisfied a lot.
Coping Strategy 2: eating to provide nutrition to my cells, as abundantly as I want, with the right foods.
The question: what are the fruits of either strategy? Which strategy is better for the short-term, and which is better for the long-term?
So let’s go back to my humor thing. For me, I gravitate towards humor. Finding humor in things helps me put things in a different perspective that is, many times, easier to understand. It helps people I work with find perspective, also. When I’m in front of 100 job seekers, you better believe there is a lot of laughing. Probably some tears, too, because I get very raw and real. But there is humor throughout the presentation. We don’t get enough laughing when we are in a job search, and no one wants to touch our delicate situation with a ten foot pole… but I do. Because even after eight years, I still consider myself a job seeker. I am you. I am with you. And I know there is a time to let your frustrations out, and I’ll be a shoulder you can cry on, or an ear you can vent to, but I’m not going to go in front of my audience and start crying and venting for the entire time.
Maybe my coping strategy (laughing and humor) is different than your coping strategy (medication, nutrition, hobbies, reading and movies (escapism), soduko, doing the dishes, lifting weights, running, etc.). I’m not going to list them and say which are better than others, but I will say this: LOOK AT THE FRUIT. What are the results of your coping strategy?
Does it put you in a worse place, or does it prepare you to do the hard things that you need to do in your job search?
I mistakenly scheduled the blog post for the day after about a week ago, without realizing that 4/2 should have been THIS post. So here’s some of the before and after of JibberJobber’s April Fools for 2014:
I skipped the next two years because I was too uncreative to figure something out, but around last April I had the idea of me, the guy who talks about layoffs all the time, the guy who owns his own company, and talks about income security, so “no one can take away 100% of your income,” and all of that stuff, to actually be laid off… from his own company!
About a week ago I wrote the draft and passed it by two people: the owner of a PR firm, and a resume writer. Both of these people are very precise and know the power and impact of a post like this.
Oh, I also printed off a copy and had my 13 year old son run it upstairs to my wife. He read the headline and got very, very somber, and I think he almost got teary-eyed. He just came to the realization that something very grave happened… I didn’t mean to make him feel like that, but I couldn’t let him in on it until my wife read it. She said it shocked her, too, for a bit, then realized it must be for April Fools. I said our son “was almost in tears…” and she said “I was almost in tears, too!”
“Great,” I thought, “this is going to work :)”
As I slept on it for the next few nights, I wondered what impact this would have, and if I should soften up the message. The private equity guy was an idiot, and the way I portrayed private equity and VCs was not favorable at all. I also bashed on job boards, and their lack of value for job seekers. I even included the company that paid $1B for Indeed.com… that’s a company I don’t necessarily want to make mad.
Would this have a negative impact on my business?
Would announcing my layoff to users who really don’t know me, or my sense of humor, have a negative impact on them, and give them a reason to have doubt about JibberJobber?
Could I take these risks, just for a bit of fun on April 1?
Obviously, I decided to. And I think it is okay…. so far. Hopefully I haven’t done or said anything wrong that is irreparable.
A big part of the prank, in addition to the blog post, was to change my LinkedIn job dates to end in April, and create a new Job:
Notice all of my current stuff is under Previous, and there is no Current… and, when I changed my current title, LinkedIn replaced my cool Professional Headline with that title (I wish they wouldn’t replace it without asking). I even had a cute in my new title. In the actual job I put the link to the URL of the blog post, which if you read, you’d probably figure out it was fake:
So what was the result? As of right now, over 20 comments on the blog post, which is more than normal. 11 tweets, 39 LinkedIn shares, and 32 Facebook likes/shares, also more than normal.
The comments are pretty funny… someone said my mom’s comment was the best (“Do you need to move back in with us???”)… I’m not sure if Alex new it was a prank, Fred Coon’s comments made me laugh because of his wit, Deb and others tip-toed around this just in case it wasn’t a joke, Rabbi (and others) jumped right in offering help and emotional support, and Niall declared a ban on maple syrup exports from Canada until the “injustice is righted”!
You guys are awesome… !
On LinkedIn I got dozens and dozens of messages… I got a lot of LIKES on my new title, and a number of “CONGRATULATIONS!” Someone wrote and said that LinkedIn should be smarter about this – when someone loses their job and changes it to an obvious downgrade in title/status, LinkedIn shouldn’t off a LIKE option.
That makes sense… who would really LIKE or CONGRATULATE someone if they lost their job and are clearly not happy about it. I had a frowny face…. why like or congratulate?
The last time I changed my job, a few months ago (just to update my profile), I had dozens of people who congratulated me… even though these were minor tweaks and were essentially the same titles as before.
I got a lot more responses on LinkedIn, because of the title change, than comments on my blog… again, people having very supportive and kind comments. At one point I almost felt bad for leading people to believe I was in a hurting place.
Oh, let me address one last thing: “who would really LIKE or CONGRATULATE someone if they lost their job and are clearly not happy about it?”
I do it all the time. Not every time, but there are times when someone tells me they lost their job and the only thing I can think of is CONGRATULATIONS! You and I both know it wasn’t the right job or company for you, and you hated it, and there was no more opportunity… I know how much it sucks to get let go. You take it personal, you second-guess yourself, you go through a range of emotions, doubt and depression can set in.
BUT, for many people, including myself, getting laid off was only the nudge I needed to leave a bad situation, which was a choice I wasn’t ready to make on my own. Getting laid off was the beginning of a journey to much better things for me, and I’m convinced that it can be a journey to much better things for many people.
So, while I offer my empathy, I also offer encouragement that in fact this can be a time to say CONGRATULATIONS!
On Friday I posted The Job Seeker’s Secret Weapon: MENTALITY, which I think is a really important post for all to read. I referenced “a guy” that sent me an email that kind of triggered that post. I sent him a link to the post and he had a brilliant response.
No amount of massaged economic and unemployment reports can compete with the reality of what has happened to “careers.” I think there is tremendous opportunity in the changes, but that doesn’t take away any pain that we, from baby boomers to Gen Z, have to live with.
With “the guy’s” permission, I’m posting the email in it’s entirety. Please take a moment to read what I thought was a brilliant message to me – to brilliant to just stay tucked away in my own inbox:
I had to read that email twice, but really appreciate the perspective and the learning points. This is something I would give to my kids!
After I got married I lived in an apartment with my wife in Pocatello, Idaho. We started our married life in May and were going to be in Idaho for about a year (we thought).
Winter came. Idaho winters are cold and brutal. It wasn’t as bad as the people who lived a couple hours north, but it was way worse than I wanted to experience. I didn’t spend many winters in cold weather, so going through my first Idaho winter made me wonder why in the world people lived in that horrible weather. That was almost twenty years ago, and I’ve had many winters like that since then.
A few years ago, after I tried to understand vegetable gardening, I had an epiphany.
Winter is a time when plants and trees get a chance to take a break. Soil gets to take a break, and even regenerate. Animals take a break. Everything takes a break!
I came to learn to cherish this time of taking a break. Self-reflection and quiet. Peace and pausing. It is a time for gardeners to plan and prepare.
I was able to see what I thought was bitter and dreary as something necessary, and a part of the cycle.
I’m going to draw a relationship from this analogy to your career (job search, unemployment, etc.). I’m not suggesting that you NEED to have a period of winter so that you can grow, regenerate, etc. I want you to figure out how to do that even when you are happily and gainfully employed.
But I want you to think about your period of unemployment differently. Instead of hating it and wanting it to end, like I did with my Idaho winters, what can you do to live through this time happily? My time in Idaho would have been different if i didn’t let that time rule my attitude.
You can get through your job search quicker, sure. There are things you have control over (unlike the weather). But what can you do right now, during a bout with unemployment, to enjoy and learn and generate and regenerate and prepare?
Some of you should rethink your education and skillset.
Others will contemplate big career changes (new industry, new roles, etc.).
Others know you want to stay in what you were in, but realize it’s time to reconnect with industry contacts. It’s time and YOU HAVE THE TIME.
I’m not sure what your career winter will be, but what I’ve learned is that if I have to do it again, I’ll look at it differently, and take advantage of the time better.