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You've sent resume after resume, and if you're lucky, gone on a few interviews, but you haven't gotten any offers. You know unemployment -- and your savings account -- won't last forever, and you’re getting anxious.
In today's job market, yours is a familiar story. The most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that 53 percent of unemployed Americans have been out of work for at least three months, with 38 percent of them still struggling to find work after six months.
Before panic sets in, think about getting creative, and maybe even a little scrappy, about nailing your next gig. We asked experts for advice on how to get by while you're unemployed that will still allow you time to find full-time work.
For starters, while you're strategizing your next move, try selling stuff you don’t need on eBay or Amazon. “This won't make you rich, but it can definitely earn you some extra income,” says Gyutae Park, head of human resources for personal finance site Money Crashers. He adds that you can also participate in paid studies on market research sites like Pinecone Research, Lightspeed Research and Surveyhead by answering online questionnaires.
“But I won't get paid,” you might think. True, but when you're unemployed and looking for work, especially for an extended period of time, filling a hole on your resume is just as important as filling an empty wallet.
Ask a local organization that interests you about volunteering, but make sure what you do is in line with what you were doing professionally. “Don’t just say, 'I'd like to help,' go in and say, 'Hey I can do X, Y and Z, and I’d rather do that than work in your warehouse,'” says Tami Cannizzaro, the blogger behind Tales of the Terminated. You can keep you skills sharp and maybe learn a few more.
“It’s not so much what you did, but that you did something,” says Cannizzaro who was inspired to start her blog, (also now a book), after being laid off from her corporate public relations job.
Plus, there's always a chance you could end up earning more than just another bullet point on your resume.
When Cannizzaro's architect-husband was laid off, he told the church he volunteered at that he had more time to contribute. After adding a little more responsibility to his existing workload, says Cannizzaro, “They ended up paying him to do each month what we were already doing.”
Find a way to put your skills to work
If you're an expert in a certain field, launching a consulting business is another way to earn some extra income. You don't need to be an entrepreneur to pull this off, since these types of businesses don't often require a lot of upfront investment capital, if any, Park points out.
Not in a profession that easily lends itself to consulting? Try using your skills with a class at a junior college or substitute teaching at a local school, Cannizzaro says. In most cases, all you need is a college degree.
Don’t rule out a part-time job
How desperately you need a part-time gig depends on your financial situation, but taking a job at the mall or grocery store is more than just a way to put some cash in your pocket -- it could turn out to be a networking opportunity, too.
While working part-time at a jewelry store, Cannizzaro often chatted with people who, once they found out her background in public relations, would sometimes hire her to write a press release for their company. “Look around,” she advises. “Tell everybody you know that you're looking for work but don’t say, 'I’m looking for anything,' because no, you’re not. You’re looking for something where you can use your [experience].”
Learn a new skill
If you often hear, “Thanks, but we really need somebody who is more proficient in…,” maybe it's time to consider beefing up your skill set. But you don’t necessarily need to spend any money to do it.
Many public libraries offer free classes, such as how to learn computer basics, and state unemployment agencies offer various free training courses and may even help train you for a new career. (You can get more information through your state’s Department of Labor website).
For more tips on job hunting, how to find classes, creating a resume and more, visit CareerOneStop.org or go to the U.S. Department of Labor Employment & Training Administration.
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