For the 11% of unemployed or under-employed people living in Los Angeles County, I’ve shared below a few options to help you increase your income and perhaps have a life-changing experience, too!
Become a Freelancer:
Most companies are now outsourcing many of their services to vendors instead of hiring people internally. Take your resume and re—write it for a business marketing piece. Ask your local SBDC counselor to write a simple professional profile, and then post it on the freelance job sites. An SBDC counselor will help at no charge. Simply visit http://lasbdcnet.lbcc.edu/locations.html to locate an SBDC near you.
Once you have a final draft of a professional profile, and a professional head and shoulder picture, with various resolutions (as each site will have their photo size requirements), post your photo and profile on the following sites: www.guru.com, www.elance.com, www.allfreelance.com, and www.freelancejobresource.com. These are the largest sites for freelancers, with thousands of projects on which to bid in nearly any area in which you might have an expertise. Projects can be local or from employers in another country.
These sites both make it easy for potential people to hire you, plus, they make it easy to get paid. You can be guaranteed to be paid for your work by using an escrow account. The employers (people who will hire you for temporary contracts) will post a job request, and you’ll submit a bid (along with a few others). If they pick your bid, then you’ll ask them to put their money in an escrow account. And, only then do you begin working on their project. You are guaranteed to get paid so long as you fulfill your end of the agreement.
Go Back to School:
If you feel like you have enough time outside of work (and the energy), and are willing to take on some student loans, now is the time when literally hundreds of thousands of out of work people are returning back to school. They are motivated either by being forced to switch careers or realize that in order to compete in this tougher economy, another degree can make the difference between getting the job or getting turned down.
Numerous community colleges (http://www.laccd.edu) and state and private colleges (http://www.laalmanac.com/education/ed36.htm) in the Los Angeles region are packed with new students of all ages, but, if you act quickly, you could get a spot in a reasonably-priced university, making your future job prospecting a good bit more hopeful.
If you don’t have the time, energy, or are not willing to be burdened by large student loans, the below option of teaching English abroad could be a better choice.
Teach English Overseas:
There are fewer job openings in Los Angeles county than there have been since the Great Depression and many people are looking overseas for both a change in career and lifestyle. Teaching English in another country is a great option for those who don’t have children under 18, who have always wanted to travel, are ready for a change, and don’t have other employment options.
Recent college graduates with no other job prospects or people in their 40s, 50s, or even 60s who are ready for a career change can, within a few weeks, find themselves happily employed in an exotic country, making good money, and yet still have enough time off to travel.
For Los Angeles County residents, visit www.TESOLTrainingCenter.com to learn about the opportunities for single people (and couples without young kids) to get paid to Teach English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) in hundreds of other countries. A TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Certificate is required, and courses range from 80 to 100 hours in length, usually on the weekends.
It’s best to receive your training from a teacher trainer with a Masters in TESOL. Be sure to ask. Many of the programs who offer a TESOL Certificate don’t hire teachers with a Master in TESOL.
In-class tuition ranges from $800 to $1,200. Online certificates are not recommended, simply because teaching is a skill that requires practice. Typically a BA degree is also required by oversea employers.
Most ESL/EFL job boards say that there are more teaching positions than there are teachers to fill them in most countries. Once you have your TESOL Certificate, you can visit the following job boards to apply to get a job teaching English in the country of your choice: www.eslemployment.com, www.eslcafe.com/jobs, www.esljobs.com, www.esljob.org, www.eslteachersboard.com.
Join the Peace Corps:
You may have thought to yourself: “Some day I’ll join the Peace Corps and make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.” Well, perhaps that day has come if you’re one of the 11% in Los Angeles County who are unemployed.
Visit www.PeaceCorps.gov to learn more about the benefits of joining the Peace Corps. You won’t return home with any savings, as this gig is a volunteer assignment., but, there are big benefits attached making it an attractive option.
In addition to a significant life-changing experience in a foreign country, with all of your travel, living expenses, and health insurance covered, you’ll return home after 2 years with additional educational benefits. Over 40 universities will give you a discount on their tuition for Masters level degrees as part of the Peace Corps Fellows program. You can even earn your MBA at a fraction of the cost! Then, you can start a business, perhaps at first part time, as described below.
With the addition of a tour of duty in the Peace Corps, your resume will be given a significant boost. Plus, after 2 or 3 years, our US economy could be significantly on the rebound, making landing the job of your choice perhaps a bit more probable.
Develop a Weekend Business:
If you can’t get another part-time job on the weekends, you can start a simple cash business, requiring little investment, simple inventory, and easy accounting. Be sure to take advantage of the free business counseling offered by local non-profits like the Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) at www.score.org and the Los Angeles Network of Small Business Development Centers at http://lasbdcnet.lbcc.edu/locations.html. You can also sign up at www.TrainingInLA.org to be notified of either free or low-cost small business training provided by the Los Angeles Economic Development Institute (LAEDI).
The counselors at both your local SCORE chapter and your local SBDC can help you do all your research, legal requirements, and successfully launch your first business. Keep in mind that, like any non-profit, you may be assigned to a person who fits your needs perfectly or who doesn’t quite make the best impression. So, if you don’t get paired up with someone you’d rate as “5 Star,” don’t give up. Simply ask for a reassignment and keep trying until you find someone who you feel is best suited to help you.
Start with a simple business model. Buy products at wholesale and sell them at a profit. Or make something fast enough to produce a substantial profit when you sell it. Simple, right? Now you just need to know where to sell your product to make the most for your investment of time and money in inventory.
Consider high-traffic areas, whether permanent or temporary. Around Los Angeles County, there are numerous swap meets, farmer’s markets, carnivals, and festivals nearly every month, where you pay a small fee to gain entrance. (See the below links to local events). Some of the best areas for small operations are considered “tourist traps” – these are essentially where you can sell low-cost items at a premium. A goofy tee-shirt that you paid $3 for can go for $14.95 all day long to tourists who are not as cost-conscious while on vacation.
Sell something that you know is in demand, for example, a food item you made the day before, or on the spot if possible, and in which there is a substantial profit margin. Consider something as simple as a popcorn maker on a cart, as the cost is low and the smell percolates the surrounding, bringing in customers.
Get access to several events for a small daily fee. Arrive early and leave late. Stand in front of your booth and engage passer buys with free samples or special offers. Most people need to be persuaded to buy.
Learn how to sell: learn what to say and what not to say, and when to just listen.
Most people don’t know how to sell and end up annoying their prospects by sounding pushy or desperate. Take a course at your local Small Business Development Center on sales techniques. Take the time to learn sales techniques that don’t come off as techniques. Usually, a sale is made after a conversation, not a monologue. First ask questions about their needs and then only later make a pitch of how your products can solve their problem. This process is called “consultative sales.”
An extra few hundred dollars every Saturday or Sunday can go a long way to help pay your household bills. You may have to test the market to see what sells. Once you find a niche product, see if the event producers will guarantee that they won’t let another similar product seller in the event.
LA Farmer’s Markets:
Finally, be sure to develop a professional profile (more than a resume) on LinkedIn.com. You’ll want to start developing a large network quickly. Feel free to invite me to connect with you and I’ll give you access to my network of 5,700 and growing direct connections: http://www.linkedin.com/in/andrewbarden.
Keep up hope! May good fortune, gainful employment, and increased income quickly shine down upon you!