Unemployed vs. Under-Employed: Five Steps to Mastering a Slow Economy

Jeff Zbar

Some economists believe the U.S. unemployment rate will peak near nine percent in the first half of 2009 (Happy New Year - here's your pink slip...).

Millions of American - without jobs.

But what about millions more who will be "under-employed" - like those who work in a home office?

As a long-time freelancer, I've seen the cycles. During the dotcom-phenom of the late 1990s, I had ample work and raked in healthy Form-1099s at year's end.

Then the dot-bubble dot-burst. While I still was employed by Jeffrey D. Zbar, Inc., the more appropriate word was "under-employed." As venture capital-drenched tech firms fell off, so too did their roster of independent contractors. Many still had other gigs, but they were fewer in number and most paid less. Hence, under-employment.

This year (heck, the last six months) seems to be taking a similar track - unless you've seen the writing on the white board, and planned accordingly.

-Break Out the Business Cards. Oh, wait, they're now called Introduction Slips. Network your ass off. Period.

-Tweak Your Sig. You know that little label at the end of your outbound email? Is it up to date with your latest skills, expertise and benefits - all in powerfully compelling language?

-Work that Social Network. Linked In, FaceBook, Twitter, Yammer, MySpace - pick one, and work it hard. Friend peeps. Join conversations. Get out there.

-Explore new opportunities. Think of a business that will take skills you have or can learn and use to create a viable business model. Virtual assistants, for example, are classic "lemon from lemonade" peddlers. They've taken skills they possessed or developed and said, "To hell with The Man!" On their own, they've created businesses and lives right-sized and modeled for their. Touche.

-Take on a Wow! Project. Coined by Fast Company magazine, this project once completed will help define You. A new book, a killer Website concept, a marketing campaign you can sell to a marketer. Not only will this concept set you apart, it'll help consume idle hours and keep you focused. In fact, it's always good to have a Wow! Project in the works. Keeps life interesting.

As if life won't be interesting enough over the next six months...

Jeff Zbar, The Chief Home Officer
Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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