job on a dimeIf you are fortunate enough to have a steady income or a large nest egg, you may not think twice about the financial investments of a job search, everything from taking your suits to the cleaners, to printing your resume and business cards, to traveling to and from an interview, job fair, or networking event. While there are those who are “funemployed” and seemingly able to live through their gap between jobs with ease, there are many others who are experiencing a real financial struggle to get their next break.

The reality is that, on average, each household carries more than $15,000 in credit card debt, according to debt.org, leaving many people vulnerable to economic devastation should they lose their income. What if you’ve depleted your savings? What if you have to live off of unemployment assistance for the basic essentials? What if you’re a once full-time student, now unemployed graduate worried about upcoming student loan payments?

I’m a career coach, not a financial expert, but I can share some tips to help you through the struggle.

Stay Accessible

Use a free email service provider such as Gmail or Yahoo. Be sure the email address you’re using on your resume and business cards is not owned by your internet service provider; if that service is suspended or canceled, your email address will be too.

Get a free phone number. Try a Google Voice number. Should your cell phone service be suspended for any reason, this service allows you to forward calls to any phone number and receive text messages. You can receive and make calls as well as listen to voicemails right from your computer. Even if you’re not worried about your phone service, using this number on your resume is a great practice if you want to screen the calls that are coming to you regarding job opportunities.

Seek Community Resources 

Take advantage of free public Wi-Fi. If you are without internet at home, visit your local library for access to a computer. Or, if you have a laptop or other mobile device, use the free Wi-Fi at coffee shops and restaurants such as Starbucks or McDonald’s. If you can, grab something cheap from the menu and always find an opportunity to strike up a conversation so you’re surfing the internet and socially networking at the same time.

Take pride in not being prideful. When financial needs are not being met it can cause a domino effect of issues. Don’t wait until you’re in dire straits; there are career and social services professionals whose mission is to help someone in your situation. Find a local job center, and reach out to your churches, local non-profits, or your school’s career services office.

Keep in Touch

Be sure to stay connected with your family and friends for support and let them know exactly what you’re looking for so they can help you identify opportunities. And if you need a favor, I recommend bartering services when possible, such as babysitting, walking the dog, or offering consulting in your area of expertise.

Network at as many freebie events as possible. Certainly take advantage of social media platforms online, but never underestimate in-person encounters at events like career fairs, Meetup groups, or music festivals. Have your elevator pitch ready, but also engage in conversations, ask questions, and listen.

Help put an end to unhappy unemployment by sharing resources (like this article!) or just by being a friend to someone in need.

By Cathy Francois, MBA, GCDF, career coach at American Public University System

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