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This is our post for Job Action Day 2010 (click the link to see all of the other participants), “a day for all job-seekers and workers to take stock of their situations and make plans and/or take action steps to improve their careers.” We’ve participated in every Job Action Day so far, and we hope you take today’s theme of Creating Opportunity to heart.
Tomorrow is Election Day, and many votes are going to make decisions based on the unemployment situation in our country. Because of that, you might think that this post will be about how job seekers need to take action to get politicians and business leaders to provide more jobs. Unfortunately, that’s not how opportunity is created—you can’t sit around and wait for it to happen.
Job creation truly comes from entrepreneurs. Need an example? Take a look at Groupon. It’s a site that only launched two years ago, and now it’s worth over $1 billion and employs nearly 1,000 people. Why has it been so successful? It solved a problem for people. (People love trying new things, but they don’t know what to try and they don’t want to spend a lot of money on something that they’re unsure of.)
You’re a new or recent grad with no experience. You’ve had a couple of internships, but nobody has actually paid you full-time for your work. At this point you’ve been on the job market for a while—long enough that employers are starting to wonder why nobody has already hired you (even if everything looks good on paper and in person). Maybe you’re not quite as good as you thought you were, or maybe you’ve just had bad luck (we are in the middle of a pretty bad recession).
What do you do? How do you create opportunity? Why can’t the President just force someone to give you a job?
Stop spending so much time job searching, and start spending your time working on something.
The problem with job searching is that it doesn’t make you any better off. Yes, you’ll certainly learn some skills through the job search—that was the whole goal of Found Your Career, but someone who has been job searching for six months is usually a less desirable candidate than she was when she just started job searching.
You need to do something to better yourself, and it needs to be something that creates economic value at the same time. In other words, you need to become an entrepreneur. This doesn’t need to be your long-term goal, but right now you need to take full responsibility for yourself and your future.
What do you need? You need a project.
Take half of the time that you spend job searching, and start working on something else. It should be something that makes other people better off. You should be creating value out of nowhere. And if you can, make it relevant to the career you want (if you know what that is).
Your goal isn’t to make money. It’s to be doing something productive with all the time that you have since you don’t have a job.
I can’t tell you what that project looks like. I’m not even going to give you ideas for it. That’s up to you. But right now you need to commit to doing something more. Something that will teach you new skills, create value for other people, and attract employers like crazy.
How do I know it’s possible? I did it. The site that you’re looking at right now was a last ditch effort at trying to save my job search. I was out of options, so I resorted to entrepreneurship. I didn’t know if it would work out (It has. I am now making a meager living off of this site), but I knew that I needed to change my approach.
Since I launched One Day, One Job on November 12, 2007, I’ve accomplished a lot. I’ve reached millions of people and helped them with their job searches. I’ve put dozens of students into jobs they never would have found without me. I’ve generated tens of thousands of dollars in revenue. And I’ve received quite a few job offers.
For me the job offers don’t matter. They’re not what I want. But for you they might be the end goal.
You don’t need to create something on the scale of One Day, One Job. And you certainly don’t need to commit three years of your life to it. But for the foreseeable future, you need to commit to working on something more than looking for a job. You need to have something to show for all that time you spent job searching.
Start a project and create opportunity for yourself.
If you’re having trouble getting started, take a look at Charlie Hoehn’s Recession Proof Graduate (it’s a free PDF e-book).
I want this post to be more than just 800 words on what I think that you should do. I want to see what you’re actually doing, and I want you to see what other recent grads are working on. Tell me in the comments section below (if you’re reading via e-mail or RSS, click through to the original post to leave a comment).
Let’s see what kind of opportunity we can create together.
Photo Credit: Flickr user DonnaGrayson
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