The Wise Job Search aims to provide the "Best of the Best" information, resources, and ideas to help you go from "I didn't get the job" to "I start on Monday!"
Have a job search question? Send an email through the Contact page and check back for an article with an answer!

No Job and Running Out of Money

image It’s a difficult time in the job market and I’ve been talking to many more people lately that are in dire straits. The lack of income for a longer than expected timeframe has taken it’s toll on budgets, mortgages, and unfortunately… marriages. Savings have been used up, unemployment is running out, and debts are piling up. The financial stress often carries over into interviews and it sabotages the chance of getting a job even when there’s a chance. Each story has a different twist and there are no easy answers. I’m no financial expert or household budget guru, however, if you are facing a similar situation, here are some successful strategies I’ve observed and options to consider.


~ Diligently guard your attitude! Maintaining a positive attitude throughout your circumstances, regardless how difficult, is critical to a positive ultimate outcome. Without a positive attitude you are less likely to get a job, find solutions, or maintain your relationships. This is often the least considered but most important aspect in making it through your challenges. Read more about the importance of your attitude and how to maintain it here.

~ Consider a night job. I know of someone that went through job changes twice in their career when they had no money to carry them through their gap in employment. Although this person was a “white collar” professional, each time they found a midnight shift position in a machine shop in the interim to bridge their income. There were multiple reasons this was a successful strategy for them.

Since it’s more difficult for companies to find people willing to work night shifts, it was easier to find those opportunities than to find a more sought after day job. Often, the night jobs pay a premium wage compared to the same day shift as well. By working nights, it left their days free to pursue their job search during normal business hours. They could make the calls and schedule interviews without interfering with their current work schedule. Finally, one of the biggest advantages for them was that they HATED it! They hated the work, the environment, and the schedule. It was one of the greatest motivators they could find to give their full effort to their job search so that they could quit the temporary role as soon as possible. It paid some bills and helped them get their desired job faster. It may not be the right solution for everyone, but it may be a viable option to consider.

~ Cut expenses! That may sound obvious and simplistic, however, I find that many people don’t realize how much they can cut until they are forced to. The sooner you find those cuts, the longer your money will last. Particularly in America, we consider so many things as necessities rather than conveniences or preferences. Find expenses that can be reduced or eliminated in every area of your budget. Consider cable TV, Internet, cell phones, full-coverage insurance, eating out, groceries, dry cleaning, movies, and other entertainment. Now is a perfect time to talk to your mortgage company to explore a possible loan modification that may reduce your monthly payments. Invariably, when people really examine where their money goes each month, and don’t consider any item too insignificant, they are able to save significant amounts of cash.

~ Find money! No… it’s not likely you will find $1,000 laying on the sidewalk, but you may have $1,000 or maybe $10,000 laying around your home. What do you own that you don’t need? Craigslist and eBay are terrific tools to raise money relatively fast. Do you own a treadmill that’s gathering dust? Old books, old computer, old iPod, old cell phone, old furniture, old bicycle, old appliances, jewelry or anything else stored in your basement, sitting in your garage, or laying in a drawer that isn’t being used but could be easily sold? Do you have a newer vehicle that could be replaced by an older, cheaper car or truck? Do you own a boat or snowmobile that might be worth a couple of mortgage payments for you? Often it’s amazing what can generate money for you when you truly look around your home with critical eyes.

~ Explore Temporary or Contract work. Do you have skills and experience in an area where you might find temporary or contract positions? Companies use temporary workers in more fields all the time. It’s no longer just Administrative Assistants or Assembly workers that are used in temporary roles. Companies also use Accountants, Lawyers, Senior Executives, Programmers, Engineers, Network Administrators, Graphic Artists, Nurses, Bookkeepers, Cooks, Construction workers, Trainers, Business Analysts, Copywriters, and dozens of other roles on a temporary or contract basis. Often there are opportunities to get projects on a fixed bid, or piecemeal basis. Many can be done at home. Check with temporary agencies, contract firms, and call on companies directly for any of those kinds of opportunities.

~ Seek help. For some, it may mean seeking out and asking for help from others. Can you get help from family or friends? Can you get help from your church, synagogue, or other religious organization? Are there resources through your local Salvation Army, or other charitable organization? Have you explored what federal, state, or local benefits might be available? If your situation warrants it, seek whatever help you can.

~ Give special attention to your relationships. Often people withdraw into themselves during financial challenges rather than be open and proactive with their spouse or family. This is why one of the major causes of divorce is financial stress. Open communication and empathy with each other is critical in maintaining a marriage or friendship. Allowing the relationship to deteriorate compounds problems. Don’t allow the most important relationships in your life to blow up. Make the time and effort to give them more care than usual.

A job search can be an incredibly stressful time and financial meltdown makes it worse. If you find yourself in that situation, go into financial triage mode and find ways to keep your head about you. Whether it’s through seeking God, confiding to a friend, or getting plenty of exercise, your own mental health, persistence, and positive attitude are critical.

Times can be trying, but if you do all you can and keep at it, there will be a light at the end of the tunnel.


Susan Ireland said...

Thanks for this much-needed advice!

Devans00 said...

Good alternate ideas that are doable.

Jennifer Toro said...

Interviewing, networking and promoting yourself while morale is low is a challenge, thanks for the reminder about staying positive and empowering yourself as key components in landing that new job.

Chuck's IT Corner said...

I just want to add one suggestion to this great article. I have been out of work since July '08 and what has helped my self esteem is volunteering. I have been a literacy volunteer since '99 and have always enjoyed the fulfilling benefits; especially during times like this. I now also volunteer in my field (IT). Try it. There are many non-profits in your community that would love your help. Even if it's only 5-6 hrs a week.

Harry said...

Thanks for the addition Chuck! You are absolutely right. Volunteering has multiple benefits in a job search, and I wrote more about it here:

Chuck's IT Corner said...


WOW, what another great article. You said it all, thanks so much.

Kenny Cargill said...

If you are working a night shift, and pursuing your job search during the day, then when exactly do you sleep?

Phyllis Mufson said...

Important suggestions Harry.

I'd also like to suggest joining a job search support group. Here's a state by state directory from Job-Hunt.org. Another source for groups near you is MeetUp.com.

Anonymous said...

When I was laid off from my "white collar" job earlier in my career, I found work as a security guard. It helped pay the bills and was sure a motivator for me to get back into my "real' career. Bottom line is to do what you must to provide for yourself and your family.

Additional "Wise Job Search" Help by Topic: