Odd Jobs Don't Stand Still


Inevitably, during the course of a job hunt, there will be down time. There will be days, maybe even weeks during which not a single job opening will look right. Today, for instance, I searched through seven different job boards from 8:00 a.m. through 11:00 a.m., and came across a total of two jobs that fit my experience and career goals. By 11:00, though, I was merely duplicating efforts and finding the same listings I saw at 8:00. When this becomes persistent, what do you do?

For one thing, this is exactly why I give myself deadlines throughout the day. I set aside three hours a day for job searching. Three hours isn't some arbitrary number I just decided upon, either. After a few days of relentless job searching directly following my termination, I observed that by the three hour mark, any listings I was finding were repeats. I'd either already applied to them, or I'd seen them and filtered them out for fit. If this starts happening early into my three hour job hunt block of the day, I switch gears towards more unconventional means.

When the standard job boards stop working, I roll over, in order, to these methods:

  1. Go directly to the websites of companies and organizations you respect. Most modern businesses post jobs on their websites. This is a good, focused approach if you have a list of preferred employers in mind. Learn to live with disappointment, though, when their listings are thin or even empty.
  2. Troll the temp agencies. Just like most modern employers, temp agencies post openings on their websites. I'm not above resorting to data entry or warehouse work if I have to pay my mortgage while looking for something else. Go straight to the home pages of local and national temp services and start looking for something to get you by. I like Manpower, and I've had luck with them in the past.
  3. Pound the pavement. Get old fashioned, print up some resumes, and walk into local businesses you'd like to work for. This is bold, and perhaps frowned upon by some places. In fact, I've gotten yelled at for doing this and nearly chased from the premises at one office. On the flip side, I've also gotten jobs and freelance gigs this way in the past. As a matter of fact, I started my first career out of college by doing this (Zamboni Driver/Ice Rink Management). Frankly, a decade ago, this kind of approach wasn't at all strange. Anymore it's a bit risky and perhaps awkward, but like I said in a previous post: once the bottom falls out, who cares about risk?

I also take some time to start looking for unconventional jobs. Odd jobs (there's a reason I picked that photo at the top!), as the case may be. If I'm going to resort to something outside of my field to bring in a paycheck while I wait out the economy, I may as well resort to something fun, or something no one else I know has done. The best place to find these kinds of positions is the print want ads in local, regional or commuter newspapers. Some of the more unique jobs I've found, applied to, and interviewed for out of the old fashioned want ads:

  • Tiger Groomer
    • Unbeknownst to me, a traveling circus was headquartered not far from my home at the time. I found the ad in the commuter paper, and it had just those two words and a phone number. How do you not call that? I interviewed with Gunther, a hairy chested German, met his eight Siberian tigers, and decided that I didn't want the job after I received an offer for $250 a week during an open ended engagement in Jakarta, with the warning that, "Tigers are dangerous animals. If you stick your finger in the cage, don't expect to get it back." True story.
  • Marine Weed Harvester
    • My county has quite a few small lakes, and the Public Works department operates several weed harvesting boats throughout the summer to clear some of the more overgrown lakes and make them more boat and recreation friendly. I could've been the guy who drove the boat. This is one of those instances where my college diploma probably did more harm than good in the application process.
  • Canoe Tour Guide
    • Along with all the lakes, my county also has several miles of rivers and creeks. There's a market for canoe lessons and day tours. I honestly don't know why I didn't get this job at the time. Probably because when I was 22, I was even more arrogant than I am now, and I'm sure that showed in job interviews. Also, no one likes a fat guy in a canoe, it's just impractical.

I know that throughout this series, I've been stressing that there's no point in applying to jobs you wouldn't want or be good at. This is different. This is not a career choice, it's a job to fill your days and get you some cash flow. For me, unemployment benefits don't cut the mustard, and even a part time job would put more money in my pocket for bills. The benefit of these unconventional jobs is that they're often more fun than anything else, and they leave you time and flexibility to keep hunting for more work. Aside from that, it's entertaining.

Something else to consider in times like these is individual enterprise. Take that step into entrepreneurship if you have an idea, a concept, a product...anything. Write that screenplay or manuscript. If you "don't know how," do some research. It's not that hard to track down emails these days. Reach out to your favorite authors or directors or business people with two direct questions about how to get a project off the ground. Failing that, type "how do I launch a product," or "how do I get published" into Google, and start reading. Grab a notebook and scribble down some points, too. Why wait? Today's the day to start chasing those whimsies you've put off forever. When else will you have this kind of time at your disposal? Most important during this time is to never stand still. Stay focused, keep momentum, go forward.

In the meantime, here are some links to some podcasts and articles that have been encouraging and motivational for me:

The Joe Rogan Experience with guest Kevin Smith: I happen to be a fan of both of these guys. They're both great examples of guys who said, "This is what I'm going to do with my life," and then did exactly that extremely successfully. This particular episode is long, but there's a lot of gold speckled throughout.

The Cult of Done: Great manifesto for staying on task and moving forward.

11 Famous People Who Were in the Completely Wrong Career at Age 30

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