The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
6 Ways To Be Ready For Unemployment
No matter what job you have or how long you have been employed there, always be prepared for the possibility of experiencing unemployment. This means that while you can take comfort in the fact that you have a job, it should always be in the back of your mind that the possibility of not having a job is just as likely to happen. This does not necessarily mean that you are going to lose your job today, tomorrow, or even in the next year or three. However, it does mean that you could potentially lose your job without any notice.
Whether your company gets bought out and your department is no longer needed or your company just one day decides to downsize its employee pool, anything can happen. There are a number of reasons that your company might do what it does, and you need to be ready for the day that happens.
Nothing is guaranteed and with the overabundance of college degrees in the workforce, there are always companies and CEOs who are going to cut corners, lay off workers, and rather than figure out more effective and efficient ways to save money and take pride in loyal long-term workers, the favor may lie in saving costs by hiring at cheaper rates, though the cost of keeping employees vs. hiring new ones shows more savings with trying to maintain the ones you have.
The length of your unemployment is what determines how in-demand your skillset is or how flooded the occupational pool is in your field. If you find yourself unemployed for a long period of time, it may be that you just need to get out of that field and learn something new that gets you a job. In a previous confession, I mentioned things you could do while you were unemployed to earn some extra money until you were able to gain employment once again, or maybe you might just find a full-time job in your unemployment, hustling to do little jobs. Depending on your skills and talents, there are numerous ways you can ensure you are ready for the day you become unemployed/
1. Learn Company Rules
If you find yourself with some downtime at work to work on your own projects, you need to make sure that whatever you do on company time or on a company computer is not owned by your company. There are many companies that have a policy that states that anything you do while employed by the company is owned by the company. If this is the case, and you are unwilling to hand over your project to the company, than you need to keep this project a secret until the day you become unemployed.
The company may tell you to scratch your idea, take your idea and not give you a dime for your efforts, or they may pay you royalties or a lump-sum to own your project, but make sure you know the rules of your company before you do anything on company time. This is very important because a contract of employment stands by the law and you will lose all rights to whatever you created if they have written a contract and you signed on the lines on the date of your employment.
2. Learn new skills while at your job
With any company, it is likely that you started only half-qualified for the actual job. The skills on your resume were enough to get you noticed, but the hiring manager knew that you were probably not fully qualified, and that is the risk most of them take. However, most hiring managers know this and hire you because they want to mold you into the ways of their company.
Over the months of being hired at your company, you were given training and you learned as you went along, figuring something out, asking questions, etc. Every job and every situation has something to teach you and that prepares you for the next stage of your life, no matter where it takes you, whether you continue on the same job, have a different job, or find yourself unemployed, these are skills that you will take with you for the rest of your life.
Make sure you categorize, organize, and even understand the type of skills you have acquired while being employed at your current job. Keep your resume up to date with every thing you learn, from the smallest details, to the milestone accomplishments, and goals achieved. Your job status may be stable now, but you never know in the future, and you need to prepare for the day where your job status is unknown; and rather than scramble around to remember everything you did at your current job, you should just write it all down during the time you are doing it.
3. Learn different skills not related to your job
While your job is there to teach you skills you already didn’t have, over time, those skills will become mundane and a repeated process. The best way to always be ahead of the game is to constantly be learning new things. If you are unable to learn at work, than take it home, and start learning there. Take up and research a hobby, particularly something fun that can maybe one day be turned into a business. If you are naturally talented at something, than research the types of things others are doing with that specific skill set, and become the competition. If it doesn’t yet exist and no one is doing anything, than that is your opportunity to seek out and create a demand for your talent, skills, or services.
Learning different skills not related to your job teaches you how to be well-rounded and when your job status becomes unknown, you will not be limited to finding another job in the same exact field. While it may be nice to find the same job again, it does not always mean it was or will be the best path for you. Most people in their lifetime will have at least 10 or more jobs and establish at least 2-3 careers where they have finally found what they love to do. Whether a job or career, no one is ever safe.
Check out Etsy.com for some ideas of creative arts and crafts ideas and trends to see what you should be learning more about.
4. Learn A Computer Skill
In 2015, I held weekly challenges to help people better their lives, learn new things, or just become better people all around. One of the challenges was to learn something new on the computer. The computer itself is never going anywhere and more businesses function with computer data. To have skills in anything on a computer gives you an edge, but if all you know is Microsoft Excel or Powerpoint, than your advantage over everyone else is not much. Everyone who went through college can create a Powerpoint in 10 minutes and everyone who has taken a business or accounting class could tell you how to calculate the data of Column D for the next 10 years. It’s nothing new and when I say: learn a new computer skill, I really mean you should learn something is beyond the “average” and “standard” application that isn’t Microsoft. If you were to learn any type of Microsoft application, I would recommend that you learn Microsoft.NET, ASP.NET, CORE.NET, and Microsoft SQL Server.
Navigate to Lynda.com and invest some time into learning the latest trending technology or skills that are in demand, or check out these 8 software skills currently in demand and learn them. Web design, graphic design, software engineering, web development, web applications, business software, architecture and structural software, and 3D modeling and rendering software are all computer skills that are in demand by many companies.
Databases are also an in-demand skill to have, as most of the Internet and companies are all large data-driven. Several top databases to learn are MySQL, SQLite, NoSQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, SAP, PostgreSQL, MariaDB, MongoDB, Amazon’s Databases, etc. At the time of this writing, a Database Administrator or a Database Architect salary is about US$80,000+ and has a very good outlook for the future, according to O*NET OnLine. Making a web app that utilizes databases or just knowing how to use a database and SQL commands is an important skill to have. This may prove useful if you become a software developer, web developer, or data analyst that finds a niche or can make data more efficient and better.
A very valuable skill to have is being able to answer the big question that companies gathering large amount of data have: All this data, what to do with it? Be the one to tell them and they will happily pay your salary.
If you prefer to stay away from the programming aspect and get to your more creative side, Adobe Creative Suite (Adobe in the Cloud) is something you may want to learn. Adobe is and a massive corporation and what you see in many magazines, movies, or television shows, has some touch of Adobe in it. While you do need to find your niche or your style in whatever you with Adobe, standing out is what your goal should be. Take up Lynda.com videos or give YouTube a search for an abundance of useful tutorials.
Check out Fiverr.com featured gigs to get an idea of the types of skills you should be acquiring.
5. Brainstorm ideas about a new side project or a startup business
A shop started by my wife and I in our free time on Etsy
I have read dozens of articles on successful startups and how startups fail. In many of the failures, I have read that when starting up, many entrepreneurs come to rely heavily on investors, without fully having their projects well thought out or even mostly complete. No matter what your idea is, an idea is just an idea, and without any solid foundation of that idea and some research on the demand, investors may have the money, but that money means nothing if your idea can’t keep it flowing to make you and your investors profitable.
Before you quit your day job, you need to lay out the foundations of your side company, side project, or startup business. If you really feel you need to quit your day job to focus solely on your newfound business, than by all means, go for it. However, make sure it is established and there is some type of demand for your business beforehand. To believe there is a demand and do everything on a whim by sheer luck may lead to disappointment and unemployment on its own.
There are some startups that succeed and do well, but if you were to see the startup-success rate vs. the startup-failure rate, you might reconsider everything and first get your facts straight. There are many “what we learned about our startup” and “why our startup failed” stories out there, waiting to be read, and there are just as many, “why our startup was successful” and “what we did to earn a million dollars in our first year” type of stories out there. These stories are all unique to those specific people, and it doesn’t necessarily mean you are going to experience the same thing.
You could be successful but you also have a chance to fail. Just know in order to succeed, you may have to fail a few times in order to learn your lessons. The point is to make sure you are ready for this endeavor, especially if you get confident enough to take the leap of faith and quit your day job, also known as your primary and mainstream source of revenue and paying bills. Investor money is not really something you should be using to pay your bills or your rent, so keep that in mind when thinking about quitting your day job to focus on your startup.
If you have some ambition to make money, become an entrepreneur, and have the skills of an artist or graphic designer with products to sell, consider starting your own store with Shopify, as seen with this website that sells cute shirts and other products.
6. Network with other like-minded people
Speaking with and gathering information from other like-minded people about what they would do if they suddenly became unemployed is an important process of networking with others. Most of your co-workers take for granted, just like you do, the fact, that you all go into work everyday and you have a job. I have personally gone to work one day, and not just one job, but several, and walked into being laid off immediately, told to go home, not because of any disciplinary action, but rather, the company went under, got bought out, or simply was downsizing.
There are certainly no guarantees, but maintaining a business relationship with your co-workers might be very beneficial to everyone. If you all suddenly find yourself laid off, than you might realize that you are several brilliant minds with ideas that could possibly lead to starting your own business together, and bringing in a steady stream of revenue. Even if your company goes under, it is important to understand why it went under, and you might even be able to separate from your company and start the same business with your co-workers, but do it more efficiently.
Talking with co-workers about ideas can lead to some skepticism, as the possibility of someone else stealing your idea, taking it, and starting a business is very possible. However, they must be just as enthusiastic and passion as you are about it, otherwise, it will probably not succeed, unless they get lucky. You should never be afraid of sharing your ideas and collaborating with others. You can be weary not to share your entire idea, but give the people your networking with a chance to understand what it is you are after and see if they are interested in making an investment or even hopping on board to join you.
You might find that your co-workers are just as ambitious and anxious to network with you and make your ideas or their own come to life with your help. You never know who is thinking about the next step, and in this case, the safety net they might find themselves establishing if unemployment just so happens to arise. They might be preparing just like you are, so take the time to network and understand your co-workers and their own worries.
From LinkedIn to Twitter to Triberr to Medium.com, there are plenty of ways to find others who have similar interests with you, so read their articles, get to know them, network with others and collaborate on ideas and thoughts.
The world of work is always changing and your job may be irrelevant tomorrow or in a few years. There may also be jobs that don’t exist yet that you are or will be qualified for. Rather than relying on a job to always be there and depending on “the system” to take care of you if you suddenly lose your job, you need to prepare for the possibility of job loss at any time and at any job. You need to make yourself valuable with well-rounded skills that make you stand out above everyone else. When you are not at work, aside from taking care of your family, you should make some time to learn new skills that are in-demand.
The number of years of experience that you have do not guarantee you a job and in fact, many companies look at the most senior employees and the highest paid, and are likely to let them go first. By learning and acquiring new skills that are in demand, you increase your chances for employment in numerous fields, and decrease your chances of remaining unemployed for long periods of time. When you have acquired an abundance of new skills, it is very likely that you will not be unemployed for too long.