Making money in hard times

If you have been laid off, you may have unemployment income, but you need to generate more income fast before your lifestyle goes completely down the tubes.

Here are some basic ideas that may help you through this period.

Work for someone else or on you own?

Some individuals get inspired to go out on their own instead of looking for work in an unfriendly job market. In a down economy this can make perfect sense. It keeps money coming in while you get prepared for longer range plans.

There are basically only two ways of generating income from your efforts: Finding a customer and producing what that customer needs or working for a company that does the same.

You can work as an individual or you can work as part of a group. As the economy slows down, there are fewer groups adding staff so you might be better off in some cases to use your skills directly for the benefit of a customer. If you can pull this off, you will find that you have created a whole new career opportunity.

If you have no marketable skills and are not able to promote yourself and find customers, you may be better off finding an employer but you will probably find that jobs are paying much less than you are used to and you will be competing for jobs you never considered before.

In some areas there are new openings for police personnel and other positions in law enforcement. These have come about because of the stimulus bill. The number of applicants for each opening have jumped a hundredfold because so many people are out of work. Highly qualified applicants with years of experience and college degrees are among those competing for these positions.

If you are over 45 and out of work, you may find that it takes a year to find someone who will hire you in any capacity. I recently saw a woman with years of executive experience who has finally found work in a retail establishment. She is making far less than she did before, but she is grateful for the opportunity and is giving it everything she's got.

If you are handy with your hands and have a smattering of technical knowledge, and possibly some trade experience like carpentry or plumbing, you can join the ranks of handymen and women who keep things working in their neighborhoods. I know families that supported themselves doing odd jobs during the Great Depression and know of people who are doing the same right now.

The next step up is creating a micro business that you run out of your home or workshop. With computers and Internet access, you can be as professional as you wish and your success is only limited by your ability to promote yourself and network effectively.

How do you get started?

Making money starts with talking to people and finding out what they need and want. This is not a sales pitch, it is a matter of being interested in the person and getting in good communication with them. If you are interested in them, they will probably be interested in you and eventually they will ask, "What do you do?"

This is where your elevator pitch comes in. You say, "I'm looking for work in sales", or "I house sit", or "I do custom picture framing" and you shut up.

If you have established good communication with this person, they will pick up on this and will ask you more. If they don't, just drop it and talk about other things. If you keep the conversation going, they may eventually bring it up again.

Most jobs at all levels are filled by referrals. You get referrals when people know you are looking for work and have a good attitude about it.

A Handy Free Reference

If getting work is an area where you need help. Download a free copy of Danger Quicksand – Have A Nice Day – and read the chapters on finding employment and handling interviews.

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