Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One month down, ready to hustle?

Today marks the start of my fifth week of unemployment. At this point last year I had two job offers, plus strong leads for two additional positions. I was a hard charger, pushing forward, determined to get a significant pay raise, an impressive title, and the flexibility to pick my child up from daycare by 5:30pm. And after three months, miraculously, I had that.

This time around, every thing's different. While I've done a couple interviews, the results have been slower. Some companies are waiting for funds to arrive to hire for their vacancies. Others are so inundated with resumes that only the applicants in complete alignment with a niche are considered. Positions at organizations that have had layoffs are considering people who were laid off first. To make matters worse, I've heard from several people who were hired only to be laid off months, or even days, later.

Like my house it appears my worth has depreciated -- despite the fact that I have more skills and experience. There's simply less demand. As a result, I am expanding my job search to include freelance and temporary contract work. Or, as some of my friends like to call it: hustling.

Now, as any of you who have been on unemployment are well aware, you must report any money you make as a contractor to unemployment. Any amount earned that week is subtracted from your check. So, it's important to be selective about the types of work you take. Otherwise, you'll waste time better spent on networking and applying for full time positions--not to mention your routines to savor time.

Before accepting freelance work, ask yourself these questions:
  • Does the project excite me?
  • Is it in alignment with my professional (or personal) goals?
  • Will I meet people in a position to help me find additional work or a permanent position?
  • Do I have the proper equipment, software and resources available to complete the job?
  • How much time will this take me?
  • Is it worth the money? And how/when will I get paid?
  • Will this project be too stressful to manage while I'm looking for a full time job?
If you like your answers to the questions above, then sign the contract and start working. If you don't like your answers, then by all means, don't take the gig. You will have other opportunities. Trust your gut. Remember, you've only got six months to collect unemployment benefits. After that you're truly on your own and won't have the luxury of being selective. So use your months wisely.


  1. Katie,

    Don't hustle...

    Just relax and do what you want to do.

    We are witnessing the end of profit in western capitalism.

    If you do something, do it because you enjoy doing it, not because you can make money out of it. Life is short. No matter what you do, there is always someone on this planet who can do it for cheaper, better and faster. We are in a truly GLOBAL marketplace.

  2. John, thanks for your comment. I couldn't agree w/ you more about doing something because you enjoy it. I've taken contracts in the past, only to regret it later -- but not every contract or freelance gig fits that category. For the few that don't, it's worth it.

    Hope your search is going well!

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