How Millennials can dig themselves out

I always figured if my name ever appeared in a newspaper it would be my byline for something I wrote, not something I did.

On Tuesday The New York Times published After Recession, More Young Adults Are Living on Street that plugged my blog.

The amount of feedback I’ve gotten over the past two days has been beyond my imagination and truly humbling. Thank you all for your well thought and passionate comments about an enormous but enormously under-reported problem in this country.

For this post I’ll offer some helpful advice on how Millennials can find or make a way out of this economic slump with some tips I found from Forbes and TIME.

Here are my favorites in no particular order (Check out this Forbes list for a more complete list)

1.) Find a side gig

The days of working for one company your entire adult life and earning a pension and a gold watch are fading fast. Today, you not only have to have a regular source of income but also side gigs to help support yourself if you ever get laid off. Although my parents had the same job for almost 30 years running their own business, they invested in and rented out property for supplemental income.

In DC, I have plenty of friends who either babysit, DJ, or bartend for side income.

I freelance for Suite101.com where I get paid to write about anything I want including one of my passions, health care.

2.) Keep working on something

Like I said in my last post, finding a full-time job is the hardest full-time job I’ve ever had. Inevitably when you get an interview, you’ll be asked “what have you been doing other than looking for jobs?”

Whether it’s writing a blog or perhaps volunteering, find something to occupy your time during your job search so you won’t have large gaps in your employment history.

I started this blog because I am genuinely concerned for my generation and it also gave me an opportunity to sharpen my online skills, to stay competitive in a digitalized global economy.

3.) Never stop learning

Speaking of sharpening skills, today there is no excuse for saying you don’t know how to do something. Really. As Dave Zinczenko of Men’s Health once said, true ignorance is not a lack of knowledge or education, but curiosity.

I recently discovered Lynda.com and found a treasure trove of learning tutorials that explain everything I ever wanted to know about any type of software, multimedia tool, and business skill that can help propel a career.

4.) Network, network, and social network

If you’re not on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Tumblr, and many others, why aren’t you?

Most job opportunities I have found and applied for have come from LinkedIn or a variety of job newsletters such as Dice, Beyond, Jobungo, Monster, CareerBuilder, among many others. Whenever I get a call from a recruiter, they all mention they found me online.

Also let your friends and colleagues know that you are on the job market because you know never know that a friend of a friend can help you out.

5.) Do what you love

It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s not as simple as you would think. Many people become pretty complacent and fall into a routine because it pays to stay there but very few actually commit to something that fires them up.

If you do something that you love and are passionate about, it will motivate you to improve your craft and find ways to monetize your passion. You’ll also be motivated to seek advice from successful people in that field and possibly find a mentor.

A wise person once said that if you don’t find your passion, you’ll work for someone else who did.

6.) Don’t throw spaghetti against the wall

Applying for every job to see what sticks is a giant waste of time and will leave you feeling worse than when you started.

Instead, see which industries need your skills and where you can provide value. For many displaced journalists, technical, grant, and proposal writing jobs are becoming more plentiful because of the need for people with traditional editing and writing skills.

More importantly, consider companies that align with what you personally believe in because there’s nothing worse than working at a job you hate for a company you hate even more.

7.) Don’t give up
It’s real easy to say “don’t give up” to someone who is struggling, but I’ve been there. The scariest part of unemployment is not knowing how long you could be unemployed for. It’s scary and depressing as shit and happened to me three times in one year.
During my most recent stint, I waited almost a month before my phone blew up with different opportunities. But during that first month, I redid my resume, signed up for different job newsletters in industries I am interested in, and contacted numerous staffing agencies to find opportunities that could go from temporary to permanent positions.
Hang tough. It’s much easier to have gone through unemployment than it is to go through unemployment so make use of any resource you can and don’t quit.
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