Get entrepreneurial with your job strategies
In an ideal world, everyone would find the job of their dreams: one that aligns with their college coursework and career goals. Everyone has skills, knowledge and abilities — some that have been developed through apprenticeships, schools, the help of a mentor and/or work experience. The harsh reality is that more than 14.1 million Americans cannot find employment today (Bureau of Labor and Statistics, July 2011).
If you are waiting for things to return to normal after the upheaval caused by the recession, you will have a long wait because we have reached what many define as the “new normal.” Changes in employment opportunities are in flux and individuals who are looking for work have to adapt. Job searching can be hard work, emotionally draining and very unpredictable. The unpredictable nature of the job market might make it appear that mystery and luck are playing a role in successful job seeking. For some applicants, things seem to fall into place and they find a job quickly while others struggle. So what can you do to find employment in unconventional times?
Be creative. While it’s nice to imagine finding a traditional 9-to-5 job with one company, this may not be realistic in today’s world. Fortunately, there are many alternatives to the conventional job. You need to be open to the reality that while you are looking for full time work, you may find part time or project work, providing you with the income you need.
Seek alternative solutions. Consider becoming an entrepreneur and starting your own business. There are approximately 15-20 million sole proprietorships in the United States making up roughly 80% of businesses (The Entrepreneur’s Help Page, July 2011). However, if starting your own business is not something that appeals to you, then consider project work. Consider looking for work as a contractor. Working on a per-project basis has many perks. For instance, you can keep your skills fresh while working for numerous companies on a project-by-project basis, and continue to look for full-time work.
Do your homework. If you want your career to be project based, you do have to do your homework. You will need to know what to charge for your services. Companies realize that they are actually saving money by hiring a contractor for a project rather than bringing you on the payroll. You will not get the health care benefits that the company may offer full-time employees, nor will you get other benefits like paid time off and vacation pay; but you will be your own boss and take on the projects you desire.
As a contractor, you will need to decide if you want to be a sole proprietor or registered as an LLC for example. Taxes could also play a part in your pricing strategy. Remember, if a company is paying you as a contractor, it is not holding back any taxes. Therefore, you are responsible for withholding a portion of your income for quarterly tax payments. To maximize your tax strategy, you may want to seek the advice of a tax accountant.
Develop a marketing strategy. Your marketing strategy is a critical success factor. Make sure you have professional-looking business cards. Set up a website as it says you are established, defines who you are and describes your service offerings. On the website, provide a bio of yourself and talk about how you can benefit potential clients. Support your claims with your qualifications. It’s not advisable to list any pricing on your site since you’ll want to negotiate pricing individually for each unique project. Be prepared to answer the inevitable question, “What is your hourly rate or project rate?”
Building your credibility. Following each project, ask for a letter of recommendation as well as permission to place the company name on your website as an example of companies that have hired you.
You should also be looking for your next assignment. Be creative and make a list of all the companies that you would like to work for and that utilize your skill set. Use the social media sites, your local chamber of commerce and past associates as springboards to help you connect with decision makers, or to just get you a chance to present your services. Then make them an offer they can’t refuse.