WHILE YOU EARN INCOME TO KEEP BODY AND SOUL TOGETHER
My husband and I volunteer with African-American males who have aged out of foster care, just five to seven guys in their early twenties. We tell them they have to get a job – any kind of job – to earn money while keeping their long-term career goal in mind. Once they are earning money, we expect them to make a good career move. This might mean taking courses, doing some heavy-duty self-study, or taking a part-time hourly job that gets them the right experience. It’s now how they measure each other’s progress: Who is making progress towards their long-term career, and who is simply earning money? They understand it completely and are always planning ahead.
It’s been four years since we started doing this, with many bumps along the way. After all, those who have aged out of foster care tend to have many personal problems. However, it is totally rewarding to see the progress they have made, and they see it themselves. The ones who have kept at it are no longer drifting, none are on welfare, and all are making great progress in their personal as well as their professional lives.
We all need to earn money. You may have to take work that is not ideal, but never lose sight of your goal. When things settle down—and they will—you will already have your foot in the door and be able to move your career along.
Those people who allow themselves to get completely sidetracked just to earn a living will have a difficult time getting back on track later. At the very least, keep involved with trade associations
and/or do volunteer work that has to do with your career track. Think ahead and don’t become discouraged by your short-term situation.
Consulting work is an important option. Even in good times, 15% of the attendees at The Five O’Clock Club are looking for consulting work as opposed to full-time, on-payroll positions. Remain open to consulting assignments, while you continue to look for full-time employment — if that’s what you want.
Whether you are looking for consulting or full-time work, the techniques are exactly the same:
- develop a target list of organizations to contact—your Personal Marketing Plan.
- Contact them, using the Five O’Clock Club’s four-paragraph cover letter (see our book, “Shortcut Your Search”).
- Tell them you are interested in consulting assignments. (Or you can say, “I’m available for full or part-time assignments.”)
- Follow up with a phone call.
The trick with consulting work—if you want to do it for a living as opposed to doing it in-between jobs—is keeping the work coming in while you are spending time delivering your services. Many consultants forget to market until the work dries up.
So to keep the prospects coming, we recommend a quarterly mailing or emailing to approximately 200 to 400 good leads. In this mailing, your cover letter would describe the projects you have been working on, suggesting that people call you if they would like similar help from you. You would also include your brochure, a simple one will do. And you could include a value-added piece, such as a link to or a copy of an article on a topic that would be of interest to your target audience and support the service you are offering. That’s it—do it quarterly.
Yes, we all have to keep body and soul together, but we all have to work towards our career goal at the same time.
Best wishes to you in your career pursuits,