An epiphany hit me recently after reading an article about the current status of job loss in Washington State. Reporting “no jobs” does not necessarily mean there is “no work available.” The term “jobless,” doesn’t have to mean “without work.” When I think about it, passively waiting for a job to open up when there is so much work around us to be done may not be the best approach to what could be a dire situation. Too many people are trapped in the mindset that a job is the only way to find income. I think there is another way we all could be looking at a “jobless” economy.
This “ah, ha!” moment happened after a frustrating week of searching for a contractor to replace the bathroom floor in a rental unit. Of the five people I contacted, two said they would call back and never did, another two said the job was too small for them, and one remaining contractor promptly returned my call. After an onsite visit, he committed to doing the work. When the project was completed, the contractor was promptly paid for his work, even though it wasn’t a “job with benefits.” Later, when we found out the carpet also needed to be replaced, the same contractor was given more work.
This experience prompted me to consider everything else that seems to be falling apart around me: my car needs vacuuming, our yard needs attention, the gutters need to be cleaned and our sink needs a new faucet. From what I see all around me, there is still a considerable amount of work that needs to get done, by and for others. This kind of work may not come with a job description, top dollar pay, medical benefits and paid time off, but I am guessing it could produce enough income to equal a paycheck and pay some bills. I’m not saying I have THE answer. It is just another approach that could keep people from tipping completely over.
The exercise of looking for work—compared to looking for a job—is a new concept for some people. It requires a different approach and a different mentality. Rather than spending the day passively looking at job postings, people could proactively invest their time looking for work, which involves talking to people to learn about their companies and “what hurts” or “what is broken.” By listening for business challenges and problems, they can be the first to offer appropriate solutions and be further ahead of those who are just waiting around for a job to be posted online. This is a simple concept, but not necessarily easy to execute. It may require training and additional support to make sure you get the results you are after.
Looking for work is a process that involves focused and intentional networking. Not the kind of random, opportunistic schmoozing that many people consider networking. It is far different than “liking” a friend’s post on Facebook or reaching out to random people on LinkedIn. It requires targeted outcomes, planning and thoughtful execution. If you aren’t finding “work” by reviewing job postings and playing with social media, there’s a good likelihood that you need to alter your mindset. It’s possible that while you search for your next job, the work you discover may even end up leading you to the job you’ve been hoping for.