Monthly Archives: October 2011

Filling the Gap


For a lot of people struggling in this economy, there are gaps. Gaps between the monthly paycheck and the monthly rent. Gaps between what we’d like to spend and what we are able to spend. Gaps created by too few hours and too low salaries. Gaps between the lives we want and the lives we have.

Now some of these gaps can be lessened by the adjustment of expectations. Goodness knows I’ve done my fair share of wants vs. needs charts; downsizing in favor of a more reasonable lifestyle, but at a certain point I
can’t cut back on the needs column any more (i.e. bills, food, good books…).

In my continued searches through a frustrating job market, I have noted the presence of some interesting opportunities to ‘fill the gap.’ Ways to make that extra bit of money finish out the month; or if you’re like me,
ways to make some money instead of none.

The most obvious of these fillers has been employed (pun intended) by workers of all types for years—the part-time job.

Whether it’s bartending nights or selling shoes on Saturdays, a part-time job is a good way to fill the gap. Scheduling is flexible, And it can also be a nice way to do something different a few days a week, in case your real job (or non-job) drives you bananas. As previously mentioned, I have been searching for a few part-time gigs to fill out my weeks and amp up my bank account. A few days ago I applied to a bakery in my neighborhood, so fingers crossed on that one.

Another ‘filler’ that suits me in particular are sites like gather.com or skyword.com, where writers can contribute articles with limited time pressure and be paid based on how the contribution draws in readers—more readers, more cash. This is especially helpful because it lends even more freedom from scheduling constraints, so if my free time is at 3am then that’s the time I use to get paid for writing. There’s also a relatively uncapped earning potential depending on the number and popularity of articles written. If I have lots of time to write a bunch of really engaging articles, I can earn quite a bit.

For those who are slightly less journalistically inclined I have also recently discovered a site called taskrabbit.com, a nifty idea that allows people with extra time to run errands for those without it. Need your groceries picked up, or you house cleaned, hire a task rabbit; a whole range of tasks for people with varied skills and extra time looking to turn those assets into cash. I don’t know about anyone else but I love this
idea. I signed up to be a task rabbit yesterday and am waiting to be approved sI can choose my first assignment. Perhaps someone out there needs me to make hem tea and read them a book…

My final source for odd jobs is the ever trusty craigslist. They have a section labeled ‘gigs’ that ijust bursting with small, one-time/ temporary jobs waiting for people with the time, talent, and inclination to get them done. If I remember correctly, that is how I found out about and started writing for this blog. It’s at least
worth a look.

These are the opportunities I’ve happened upon so far in my search but I’m sure this isn’t the end of the list. Someone before me discovered that sometimes people end up with more free time than they know what to do with and is out there trying to help us make use of these idle hands. To help fill the gaps, as it were. At the moment all I have is gap so hopefully using these strategies will help me keep my head above water as the real search continues.

Part Four: Summer 2011


PART ONE
PART TWO
PART THREE

This article was written by guest writer, Miss. Stefie.

I started at the library in the middle of March. For the rest of the month and for all of April, I am holding down five jobs (to recap: library, zoo, retail, modeling, work for dad), working at least 60 hours per week with no days off. I often work 12-14 hour days, bouncing between two or three jobs a day. I live with my boyfriend, but I never see him. Wake up, go to work, go to sleep, repeat. Then all of a sudden, the semester is winding down, the art classes have no more need for models. Around the same time, my dad actually hires someone to work with him, and I am free of that job as well. As April ends and I am filling out my day planner with May work schedules, I see it: a blank day. I triple-check my schedules, but it’s not a mistake, it’s really there. It’s a Thursday, and it is a day off for the first time in almost two months.

My day off is glorious. I wake up at 7, as I do every day, but I don’t get out of bed. I check my e-mail (unanswered for the past week), check facebook (untouched for the past month), wander through neglected messages and unvisited sites. It’s barely 10:00AM before I decide I need more days off. Even a few hours off. I still hardly ever see my boyfriend. I need to quit Bargaintopia.

My next Bargaintopia shift, I begin planting the seeds of my departure. I’m lamenting my return to work, raving about my day off. My co-workers know I have not had one in quite a while, and are excited for me. They’re all trying to find different jobs, and are mostly baffled as to why I continue to work there when I already have two jobs. I find the manager that likes me most and tell him I think it’s a bit too stressful holding down three jobs at once, and I realized that yesterday when I had a whole day to myself. He says, “Oh, that’s understandable. I wouldn’t want to work that much. But you’re not leaving us before inventory, right? We need you.” I agree to stay on for inventory, but could he please give me fewer hours? I’m sure other people would appreciate some extra shifts.

I am busy, but not unbearably busy, through June. I’m only working 40-50 hors per week, trading away many of my Bargaintopia shifts, waiting for my last day, July 7, inventory day. Finally, it arrives. The shift is from 6PM-2AM, I have to be at work at 8AM the next day. I manage to not fall asleep in the store or at the zoo or library the next day.

For the rest of the summer, I work 15 hours at the library and 15-30 hours at the zoo, depending on how busy the schedule is. I have Sundays off every week. Sometimes I have other days off as well. I adore the library. It has lived up to my expectations, and I can’t believe I didn’t realize earlier that this is what I want to do for the rest of forever. The only snag is, to be a full librarian, I need a Masters in library science. Until then, I can’t work more than 15 hour per week. Some sort of labor law. So now I know what needs to happen. It’s fun working at the zoo, but next fall, I’ll be a student again, working toward librarianship.

I think back to this time last year, having just moved, John dropping out of school. I’ll need a scholarship, or loans, or some kind of help. But I’m prepared to do whatever it takes. I’ve been scouting schools with distance programs lately. I am determined not to move again. I keep thinking that it’s about time for something to go terribly, terribly wrong. It’s strange, I feel the exact opposite of what I felt a year ago: happy, and hopeful, like I have a future waiting for me.

Asking Questions


I’ve always been the quiet one—the one who stands on the sidelines, the one who goes with the flow, and most importantly the one who doesn’t ask questions.  For a long time this stance on life has treated me well, and kept me out of trouble.

But ever since I spent two months travelling around the backwoods of Arizona with a group of people – unafraid to ask for anything and everything – I’ve considered altering my quiet persona.

From mid-March to mid-May of this past year I was on assignment working for Arizona State Parks. I was traveling in a fifteen-passenger van packed with everything from trail tools to camping supplies; plus enough clothing and personal gear to keep eleven people functioning and happy no matter what the trip threw at us. Our weather conditions varied from hundred degree work days to twenty degree frost-covered mornings as we travelled through ten different state parks in the Arizona park system. The work, the travel, and the stress were a rollercoaster worthy of even the most dedicated thrill seeker.

But the ten people riding along with me were of an indomitable spirit. They took what could have been a very rough experience for all of us and made the two month project an amazing and unforgettable journey, all through the cunning use of questions.

“Can I have that?”

“Can we have some?”

Unabashedly, my co-workers used these phrases and other like them to get us an overwhelming collection of free stuff. From t-shirts to food, to walking sticks, to hats; if our travelling van hadn’t seemed laden down when we started, it certainly was bulging at the seams when we returned. Every new location provided new opportunities to my ambitious team. And it didn’t stop at the stuff.

The questions branched into “Are we allowed to…?” and “Can you show us?” which opened the door to tours and plane rides and undisclosed hiking trails, all of which we happily explored to our hearts content. Once they got people talking, the folks we encountered were always happy to point us in the direction of fun and exploration. It seemed like we were trading our service time for insider secrets on the best places to see and visit in the small towns surrounding the parks we worked in.

The last set of questions I heard with regularity surprised me every time. “What’s your story?” and “Will you teach us?” No matter how many new characters we met during our travels, my team never seemed to lose interest in the stories. We’d sit and listen or explain what we were doing in the parks, ever content so long as the exchange of information continued, the questions flowing. They laughed, they learned, and they weren’t afraid to reap the rewards gained through their never ending litany of questions.

At the time my appreciation for their questions was limited, my predominant reaction being annoyance. The stream was really never-ending. But with the proper distance and reflection, I’ve come around. Present-day-job-searching-me is now reconsidering the potential of this seemingly inconsequential communication device.

The question, in all its shapes and forms, is a very important and somewhat underrated networking tool. Its many uses can include promoting conversation, opening doors, projecting interest and curiosity, making connections. I have been trying to employ it more and more in my daily life.

Even if a store doesn’t have a ‘now hiring’ sign up it can’t hurt to ask, right? Maybe they haven’t had the chance to put an ad out. Maybe they know someone else who is hiring.

From what I’ve gathered about networking (though I’ve never really gotten the hang of it), the idea is to put out feelers. To ask questions that can help me identify connections I was previously unaware of and use those
connections to find the hiring manager in charge of my dream job.  Asking questions helps me to put my foot in the door and let people know that I have arrived. Or at least that I’d like to arrive sometime in the near future.

Now if only there was a guidebook to help me find the right questions…

Finding the Right Job Opening


By Nicole Hosette

Becoming employed is a multi-step process. First you have to locate open positions; then comes the tasks of writing a cover letter, updating your resume, and hopefully preparing for the interview. Everyone puts a lot of emphasis on the application and interview steps – as they should. Your resume shows employers what you can do, and the interview proves what an awesome addition you would be to their organization. These steps are super important, so there are a ton of websites all over the Internet dedicated to helping you excel with them.

But before you can write that cover letter, you need an open position. Online job boards make it easy to search for that perfect job from home. Do a quick Google search for “jobs” and you get over 2 billion hits of job boards and more. Narrow that search down to include your location and you’ll still get a couple hundred million sites.

While Google is awesome for finding openings, it doesn’t mean you won’t have to sort through some pretty awful websites to find anything decent. When it comes to job postings, there are so many variables – industry, experience, location, application deadline, etc. And not all job boards are created equal.

I’ve become pretty well acquainted with a number of job boards recently, and I spend a lot of time on them. I figured I’d be helpful this post instead of just whining about being unemployed. So here’s a quick list of a few of my favorite places to look for jobs online:

1. Indeed.com
You might be familiar with this one. When you do that Google search I mentioned earlier, this will be one of the first hits. The great thing about Indeed is that it aggregates listings from all over the web, so the selection is great. Plus, it has an option to look at the average salaries and trends for whatever position you’re checking out.

2. Idealist.org
This website is actually a platform for non-profit organizations to post events, volunteer opportunities, and jobs, among other things. If you’re interested in working for a non-profit, the job board on Idealist.org is great place to look. Depending on your preferences, you can search by either job title or by cause. So if you really want to work for a group that works for LGBT rights, animal welfare, or education, you can find the groups that are hiring in your area. If you’re not picky about the cause, you can search for the position you’re looking for instead.

3. Craigslist.com
This one is really hit or miss. I like it because it has options for writing “gigs” as well as writing “jobs”. Here you’re much more likely to find something like a small start-up or blog that isn’t able to pay you, but if you’re looking for clips or experience, it’s a good place to start. This is also a good place to find part-time or service jobs to help pay the bills. You do have to be careful – watch out for the sketchy looking ones, and remember that listings with credible links are always a good thing.

4. Journalismjobs.com

Unless you’re looking for a job in journalism/PR/marketing, this one probably won’t do you any good. But the problem with journalism jobs is that they often don’t fit into “major” job boards, like Monster or Indeed. So boards like Journalism Jobs, Media Bistro, and Mediagigs.net are great resources for a job seekers who have a specific skill set and don’t want to search through the many, many listings on general boards that want employees with “great communication skills.”

These sites are my favorites, and they have what I’m looking for, but every job search is different and I get that they might not work for you. If you have a favorite place to look for jobs, please feel free to mention it in the comments!

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