Sunday, August 15, 2010

Note to the Unemployed - Get Off Your Ass and Do Something!

Now, before you crucify me for being insensitive, would you do me the favor of reading the entire blog post? After that, you can use the comments section to "rip me a new one".

I've been watching the unemployment numbers for the past couple of years and have come to a sad conclusion -- 9.5% national unemployment is going to be the new norm because the Obama administration, Congress, State Governments and Big Business won't do the right thing to solve the problem and no, Meg Whitman won't be able to do anything in California either.

Ideally, if government and big business would pull their collective heads out of their asses we could solve the problem this year. Unfortunately we live in the real world where their heads stay firmly planted "where the sun don't shine".

Much like the music, newspaper, TV News and advertising businesses have felt the impact of the Internet/Information Revolution; so has the employment sector. During the recent "Great Recession" many businesses downsized to stay alive, but after downsizing realized that they didn't need all of those employees anyway, instead they just decided to make their current employees work harder for the same pay. Today many large companies are showing record profits; mainly because they are doing the same business with fewer employees. There is little incentive to increase hiring because technology has made fewer employees more efficient; after all there is a bottom line to protect.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau; in 2004 there were 23.3 million businesses in the United States with 9 or fewer employees; 19.5 million sole proprietors among them. Many of those 23.3 million businesses would love to hire, but they do not have the resources nor access to capital to do that. Had the government spent even 50% of that $700 billion in stimulus money on helping these small businesses, our unemployment rate would have dropped dramatically ... and seeing as employed people spend more than unemployed people the economy would start to grow again.

So, since Big Business isn't hiring and small business can't hire ... unless you want to work for Obama, Inc. the job of creating your next job, falls to you.

I was unemployed for three years after I shut down Glacier Bay. I sent out over 300 resumes and had a total of 4 interviews, heck I couldn't even get an interview with the local CVS pharmacy that was opening up in my home town. I had to reinvent myself because I needed an income. I became a blogger and consultant, one of those 19 million sole proprietors; I cut my expenses; I leaned on the support of my loving family; I bought back DVDs and CDs from consumers and sold them on Amazon; I made money online with Google Adsense and as an Amazon affiliate; I wrote and posted content on Associatedcontent.com and Squidoo.com. I wasn't getting rich but I was paying the bills.

During that first year and a half I sent out the 300 resumes; eventually I stopped doing that and just decided my destiny was in my own hands. If I was going to make a living, I had to rely on my own efforts. I was perfectly content to continue this approach because each year I made more money than the previous year. Who needs a job, I would just work for myself ... then a strange thing happened. Because of my blog and my consulting, I met Neel Grover, the CEO of Buy.com and over the next 6 months we would occasionally converse about the state of online commerce. I remember during Christmas in 2008 telling my dad that I should ask Neel about coming on board at Buy.com to help them grow their marketplace business. My dad said; "what do you have to lose"... well, the rest as they say is history :).

In January of 2009 I started consulting full-time for Buy.com and was offered a full-time position in May of the same year. The job is a dream job for me and would not have happened had I not been active re-inventing myself for the 3 years leading up to it.

The moral of this story: If you are currently unemployed "get off your ass and do something" do not wait for the Government or Big Business to come to your rescue. Your future is in your hands and you need to re-invent yourself. Keep sending out those resumes but get active creating something for yourself while you do that. Who knows maybe that activity will open the door for your "dream job" like it did for me.

Just my 15%

16 comments:

Henrietta said...

Insensitive? Slightly, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.
Inspirational? Yes, very.

But you did not have a wife or small children to support and your housing situation was a lot better than most. You were able to be the leaner instead of the leaned upon.

You also have life experience that allows you to contribute something of value as a consultant, not to mention your charming personality.

I would guess that 90% of the currently unemployed are not so blessed.

Randy Smythe said...

Hey Henrietta!

Yea, I did leave that out. I was able to get very lean very quickly.

I would say that even that 90% who might not have the life experience or personal support should still do something.

Good to see your comments, I've missed our conversations.

Kat Simpson said...

Excellent points made by both you and Henrietta - it is interesting to see Americans becoming more 'lean' lately. I was always 'cheap' and now, I guess I'm mainstream :)

Cliff Aliperti said...

Damn Randy, you're back--new look on the blog, extra attitude from the blogger!

Leaving politics aside I think the shift that's happening is permanent, but it's a more of an evolution--completely agree with your main point, get going and create some dollars because those old jobs aren't coming back. Society has shifted and this time instead of us (ie: the workers) having new professions to fall into we're much better off and much better able to create our own.

Great stuff, hope to see more regular stuff back here at my old stomping grounds!

Cliff

Oren said...

Randy,

I did that and fell even harder.

After being fired from a tech support job in CA (the company was suffering from local gov. cutting back). I decided to try to start my own biz. I decided to take my knowledge of tech and eBay and start selling. I loaned some money from my family and was doing ok. Not good but as you said it helped pay the bills. I survived all the changes that eBay did (no neg to buyers DSR etc)
Then eBay eliminated the SIF and all is in core and all of a sudden I don't sell. my sales dropped from 3k/mo to less then 1k.

I'm sitting on inventory and I owe money. Amazon was never a good venue for my wares. I'll try a website of my own but I'm not hopeful.

So not that I'm not seeing your point but it isn't that simple.

Randy Smythe said...

Oren, don't give up! I started down the path of starting my own business again and ended up getting a job. The fact that you are working on something will ultimately pay off.

Maybe it will be another job or another product line. Keep trying.

Randy Smythe said...

Hey Cliff!

Hopefully I will be able to keep this up.

I hope you are doing well.

fitzcharming said...

Like the others that commented I don't agree with everything you wrote but I do agree with the get off your ass part. I've been selling on-line for a few years and doing a little affilite marketing. I have a secure job (I'm one of those doing more for less pay), but I feel that if I ever did lose it I have the knowledge and skills to make a living for myself. Ebay was a good place to start and things have evolved from there. And I'm not any smarter than any of those unemployed folks out there. It just takes some stick-to-it-ive-ness. And it's nice to see you blogging again.

Tula said...

So many people wait for "the company" or the government to take care of them instead of taking charge of things for themselves. I was laid off from a big company in 1992 and was out of work for 8 months. Then, with unemployment running out, I happened across a contract job opportunity. I took it out of necessity, but discovered I liked the control it gave me over my own destiny. I've been doing it ever since.

I think people have forgotten how to do for themselves. I grew up fairly poor, so I know how to live frugally. I'm always amazed at people who brag that they can't cook and eat out every night. When times get tough, people like that tend to suffer more, since they don't know how to take care of things on their own. You simply can't depend on others to take care of you, since it's not likely they have your best interests at heart.

Nowadays, I use a combination of contracting, freelance consulting, and ecommerce selling to make money. It works pretty well. When the regular job market is poor, companies are often willing to hire contractors, since they don't have to give us benefits or commit to us in any way. In return, I get paid more, have control of my own benefits (which I get through one of my businesses), and don't do those many, many hours of unpaid overtime that many of my captive employee friends have to do. And they think *I'm* the crazy one :-)

With the new regulations coming out, hiring of contractors and freelancers is likely to increase, since the cost of hiring employees continues to grow. I blame both political parties for the current economy, though I lean slightly left in a social sense (though I'm fiscally much more conservative). It would make me tremendously happy to see a wave of independents come into office :-)

ms.pat said...

Hi Randy - good to see you blogging again. Yes, I'm going to disagree with you somewhat....where do you go to find work when your online business just isn't making enough sales to supplement your income and your facing the age of 70? We need to earn too since everything around us is rising in price and our income is stagnant - yet we're look upon as already being dead as far as the job force is concerned. I think this is a problem with those 55 and up who are trying to find work.

A tip for some, back in the late 90's my son was laid off from work. I urged him to go to a temp agency and have them put him to work doing anything. He did just that and went wherever they sent him for two years before one of those temp jobs came thru and hired him permanently - to this day he still holds that job. I did the very same thing back in 1982 and actually retired from that company. This is a little recognized path to finding permanent work!

Randy Smythe said...

Hey Pat,

Yes, that is an issue for older folks who find themselves unemployed. I think your suggestion about a temp agency is a good one and I did consulting in-between Glacier bay and my job at Buy.com. In fact my first contract at Buy was as a consultant and 3 months into the deal they hired me.

I'm blogging again but not near as frequently as I did before.

Charleen Larson said...

Ms.Pat,

You make an excellent point about temp agencies. I worked that idea a couple of times in LA and got hired by several companies I temped for. It's a great way to gain more perspective, too. In recent years (in addition to selling on eBay, Amazon and running my own websites) I have taken occasional work such as mystery shopping and merchandising, both of which taught me a lot about retail. I particularly recommend merchandising for anyone with mobility who's looking for "fill-in" work. Comment back if you want more details.

There's a ton of work out there -- you just need to search for it.

Tom /Flex Wholesale said...

Hey Randy, great post.

I'm here in KS in what used to be the Air Capitol of the World. It drives me nuts to see able bodied people not doing anything until the money runs out. I can't tell you how many times I've heard an unemployed aircraft worker comment on "riding the ObamaTrain" of unemployment benefits. Do we REALLY need 99+ weeks of unemployment? The nanny state kills incentive.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how they do it in KS but in TX you are legally required to search for work while on unemployment and must keep records of every contact you make. If they ever ask for proof you have to show them at minimum 5 contacts per week or they can end your benefits and make you pay them back.

The bad part of unemployment is that it requires that you accept a job offer that you wouldn't normally. Since employers typically ask that you tell them your previous salary an unscrupulous employer could craft an offer that you would be unable to refuse (I think the actual number is 60% after 6 weeks). I was glad when my benefits ran out. 20% of my old paycheck wasn't worth the freedom that it took away.

ms.pat said...

Thanks to those who commented back to me. I'm afraid at my age about all I can get hired for is greeter at Walmart :-) I still have a brain but all they see is my gray hair.

Another point I want to make to the unemployed - if you are on unemployment you can stretch it out by working too. In 1982 I stretched my unemployment insurance out to 2 1/2 years by working temp jobs in between. This is all legal - if your working you don't go and pick up a check - if you're not working you go and pick up your check. Did that until I pinned down a permanent job. I might add I worked 15 years at that job and retired from that company :-) I think the worst thing anyone can do is sit home and just go to job interviews. You've got too much competition for those same jobs....but if you're working temp at the company and they see what you can do then you are more likely to go to the head of the line when a job opens in that company. Worked for me and worked for my son too. Good luck everyone.

Would appreciate anyone visiting my blog:

http://www.grannygoodpaint.blogspot.com

Cokehead said...

This isn't practical advice for everyone - and yeah, that title is definitely insensitive.

It wouldn't actually be that bad, but the unemployed (10% is a LOT of people) have been hammered a lot lately in the press. Take a quick google of "undeserving poor" - there's a lot of vile stuff out there, and the idea that large amounts of the unemployed aren't searching for work reigns supreme.

It's crap. I know a lot of good people who are on unemployment right now, and it's keeping their families from staying in the homeless shelter. Personally, I'm happy my 20% supports these people - even if it also supports a few of Reagan's mystical welfare queens.