Dropping Out of the Job Market: A Guide to Job Search Alternatives

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After five years struggling in a thankless job for a paycheck that barely covered your rent, you were rewarded with an unexpected layoff. Now you find yourself scanning job boards, networking and scrambling to get back into a field you were never very excited about to begin with. You may even have to accept a pay cut just for the privilege of stepping back into…whatever that was.

If this describes your situation, you may find yourself asking a few common questions. You may wonder if you made the wrong career choice years ago and have just been going through the motions. You may wonder if this is all there is, whether this struggle is just a normal and necessary part of life, or if there are other options.

Welcome to LiveCareer, where we answer questions like these every day. And yes, there are other options – lots of them. Explore LiveCareer’s website for more information, and in the meantime, consider these common alternatives to the conventional job search.

Make the Change Happen

  1. Start a business. It’s not nearly as difficult or risky as it may seem. People all over the country start small businesses every day, and if you can clear two major hurdles at the beginning, your odds will be just as strong as theirs: you’ll need to identify the target market for your product or service, and you’ll need to obtain financing. Talk to your bank or credit union and ask what specifics they need to see in a business plan before granting you a loan. Then learn as much as you possibly can about your potential customer base. 
  2. Team up. Partner with a small business or investment group that already exists, or join forces with a trusted group of people who share the same aspirations and are interested in spreading out the risk. 
  3. Freelance. In this struggling economy, workers are increasingly going solo and breaking ties with full time employers. And employers are happy to let them do this. Fewer full time workers means fewer benefits and obligations to those workers. And for the workers, freelancing means setting your own wages, keeping your own schedule and the freedom of managing your own life. Freelancing will also mean researching your own health insurance options and paying your own taxes. But for many people, this is a small price to pay for total independence. 
  4. Do the thing you would be doing if you didn’t have to work. Stop dividing your energies. Establish a full week, month or year in which you let the job search go and focus on the activity you are actually passionate about. The piano, artisanal cheese making or woodworking studio you love can actually take you somewhere, but only if you’re brave enough to allow it. 

All of these options entail a minor degree of risk, and they each may require a somewhat conservative attitude toward daily spending, at least for a while. They also demand a degree of patience and personal resilience. But these obstacles aren’t insurmountable. When you’re ready to get off the treadmill, get help and find the answers you need to start moving. It’s your life, you should live it how you want to!

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