I know what it’s like to not have a job for long periods of time (3+ months). It’s boring first of all. Second of all, it’s depressing as hell.
I’m a college grad, from a top 20 school, with a “real” degree (biology), and I speak Chinese. You’d think that would matter.
In any case — my story is not that unusual these days. There’s a ton of reasons why unemployment sucks, but one of the worst parts of it is the sheer unhappiness that accompanies too much free time. Your mind wanders. You wonder what the hell you’re doing with your life.
You take up old habits again (Smoking, drinking, video games, generic time wasting), and pass the days in a kind of haze.
Not having work is more emotionally draining than anything else — it kind of kills you inside. There’s this old saying that “a man without a job is a man without a purpose.” And I agree.
But one of the cool things I realized though is that it’s matter of learning to use this period to do stuff you couldn’t do otherwise.
I have a ton of free time now. So what should I do, that normally I couldn’t do?
Before I talk about the seven cool things you should check out, I want to briefly talk about how I managed to keep my mind busy during one of those long stretches of unemployment.
The Art of Being a Curious Bastard
Back when I first came back from China, I was looking to re-enter the job market. I had no idea what industry I wanted to be in, which kind of worked to my advantage, so I looked in every industry.
I looked for entry level business jobs, personal training jobs, secretary/computer jobs, temp jobs, teaching jobs, and pretty much anything else I could try out.
Not even the temp agency could find me much work, so I spent a lot of days sitting at home bored as hell, and sleeping in because I was getting depressed with my entire life.
And that’s when I decided that instead of being a lazy bastard (which is highly unlike my usual self) I would do some 30 day skill learning.
I came upon this video on TED called Try Something New for 30 Days and figured I would do something like that myself.
So over the period of a few months I set aside one hour per day (for 30 days) to learn some skills:
- Improving my handwriting / calligraphy
- Giving myself a Flow test
- Meditating for increasingly long periods of time
- Testing various Teas
As it turned out, I ended up having so much fun that this is something I still do — next month for example, is going to be all about wine.
I’m gonna grab a copy of The Wine Bible, and then each day try a different kind of wine with dinner. Talk about an awesome excuse to get drunk with dinner…
In any case my point is that you have to be creative about keeping your mind active. And I suspect for 20 somethings this lack of jobs won’t get any better, so hopefully these suggestions help.
So, without further ado, I present these 7 awesome websites and tools you should check out. They just might preserve your sanity and maybe get you a little closer to work you actually enjoy.
7 Awesome Websites & Tools
Jobstr is pretty awesome.
Think about all those taboo questions you’ve always wanted to ask people about a job.
Ever wanted to ask a gynecologist if it’s awkward as a guy?
Ever wanted to ask a video game tester if the job is actually fun or sucks over time?
Ever wanted to ask a Starbuck’s barista what’s the most bizarre thing they’ve ever seen?
Jobstr has it.
Jobstr is basically everything you’ve always wanted to know about a profession but were too afraid to ask. The cool part is that (to my knowledge) there is no other website or tool like it.
Beyond the obvious use for people who are trying to figure out what to do with their lives, it’s one hell of a good laugh.
Rework.jobs is basically a job finding tool, where you match your passion to a job.
One thing that is particularly cool about this is that the jobs Rework links you to are mostly “why” organizations, meaning they have some kind of deeper core purpose or mission.
Ever worked a job that had no purpose whatsoever? Like Advertising? Or any kind of money management? Or a cubicle job where you felt like nothing you didn’t make any difference whatsoever in the universe?
That’s the exact opposite of what Rework.jobs aims to do. Check out the picture below:
As a cool alternative job search tool, Rework.jobs is something you should check out if you’ve exhausted the traditional avenues or they just aren’t working (which they probably aren’t).
“Yr doing a great job” is basically a blog where people with interesting jobs get interviewed a couple times a month.
Just at a quick glance, here are a few people that have been recently interviewed:
Like Jobstr, if you’re ever curious about jobs and want to see see what they entail, or if these are jobs you’re seriously considering, you’d be a fool not to check out Yr doing a great job.
#4 One Week Job
Know that feeling when you read a book or hear about a project and think: “shit, I should’ve done that.. that’s a freaking awesome idea.”
That’s what I thought when I heard about One Week Job.
Basically, this dude Sean was trying to figure out what his passion was, and wanted to see what kind of work he would enjoy. Like me, he was into trying everything to see what would stick and find out what he was really into. Except he did it to the extreme.
Sean decided to work a different job every week for a year (52 weeks).
He worked everything from being a Cowboy to a firefighter, astronomer, teacher, pizza maker. The list is pretty cool to check out.
His project got a lot of publicity and now he does speaking gigs for universities and high schools.
You might even consider doing your own One Week Job experiment.
Fiverr is basically a marketplace to sell your services (like Elance) but only for $5.
I recommend Fiverr for a number of reasons:
#1 You can make some pocket change if you’re smart about your services. Thousands of people will pay for hilarious services like this Welsh guy singing happy birthday in a thong.
If you’re unemployed and bored, that’s some pocket change, not to mention one hell of a portfolio and something fun to keep you busy.
#2 it’s a ton of publicity and free marketing if you’re smart about your service.
Trying to get people to find your new startup, blog, or organization? Do something hilarious on Fiverr and point them back to whatever your project is.
Worst comes to worst, it’s hilarious to see some of the things people are doing:
- “I will juggle a chainsaw and knives, chainsaw costs EXTRA, while yelling anything you want for 5 dollars”
- “I will lick a whole NYC subway railing for 5 dollars”
- “I will be your boyfriend on Facebook for a whole week for 5 dollars”
Just check out some of the people with useful services, regarding business services.
5,000 transactions. Sure you make $5 a pop, but that’s $15,000. Maybe you’ll even figure out what you love doing in the process. Half of these people acting like fools on Youtube seem to end up making six figures anyway…
Taskrabbit is basically a website where you outsource errands to “task rabbits.”
First things first, if you’re bored and unemployed, you should try to become a task rabbit if it’s available in your city.
I was totally excited to be someone’s pack mule until I realized they aren’t really that close to where I live. If they are close to where you live, when you become a task rabbit you help people out with a couple things:
- Moving/loading and unloading
- House chores
- Office Help
- Handyman help
- Virtual Assistant Help
And these aren’t $5 gigs like Fiverr. Some of these tasks pay a couple hundred dollars, so they will pay you as good as a temp agency might pay you to do a day job.
Of course, if you run a startup, you could always use these Taskrabbits to quickly and cheaply outsource tasks (that you need done in person), in order to save money or potentially lead you to new people to hire.
Those of you who know me know that I have a lot of love for Skillshare. It’s kind of the startup I always wanted to run but I showed up to the game a little too late.
There are two main reasons that everyone should check it out:
#1 If you have a massive love for learning, you can learn just about anything, from anyone, ranging from making flower arrangements to starting up a business.
The five main categories from the site are Creative Arts, Culinary, Entrepreneurship, Lifestyle and Technology. Use your imagination – you could be learning forever.
#2 If you’re trying to start your own business, Skillshare is a way for you to market yourself and potentially get your first few clients while building your list. It’s also a good way to build up your street cred.
Basically anyone can start a class and start teaching – and can earn money for each student that shows up. You can also quickly establish yourself as an expert or at least as a knowledgable person, and then launch a full-time biz from there.
One of my friends, Jeff Ramos, taught a highly rated branding and PR course for people. He eventually used this to build up his list, hype, and launch his own branding business.
Skillshare, like Taskrabbit and many other services, is also new so it’s not everywhere yet. Some classes are digital, some are in person. So check out if there are any classes closed to you –
The unemployment (or underemployment) bitchslap
Alright. Aside from not getting paid when you don’t have a job, the worst part is the accompanying “what the hell do I do with my time/life” depression that sets in after about two weeks.
The most important part is to view this as a period where you have a shit ton of time (and you do) to do whatever you want. The trick is to learn the art of the hustle — that’s the most important life skill anyway, isn’t it? Adaptation? Resilience?
Image by Fanzinepaper
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