To Scare The Hell Out Of Unemployment
By Susan Blackert
The Bureau of Labor Statistics says that in August 2011 there continued to
be 14 million unemployed Americans or 9.1% of the workforce. This number
does not include those who have given up looking for work, are no longer
collecting unemployment benefits, or those that are underemployed. With
millions and millions of people struggling to find or maintain meaningful
work it might be easy to become scared at the thought of unemployment.
However, the newly released book
How To Scare The Hell Out Of Unemployment
argues there is no reason to be scared of unemployment. In fact, author
Mike Bowman, who is also the publisher of The Quarter Roll, argues that
unemployment should be scared of you! In this interview we asked him what
he means by that.
Susan Blackert: Mike, can you talk about what you mean when you
talk about scaring unemployment?
Mike Bowman: Sure. Unemployment is harder on those of us that are
less prepared or able to fight back. It tends to target those who are less
educated, have fewer marketable work skills, have fewer resources or
access to supportive services, or have insufficient work histories.
In that sense, unemployment has the persona of a bully; its targeted
behavior makes me believe it feels good by making the weak around it feel
worse. That makes unemployment personal to me. My goal with the book is to
turn the tables and give readers confidence. If something is scared of you
it shies away from you. That is what I want unemployment to do.
SB: One idea you talk about in the book is “managing down” your
expenses when unemployed. What do you mean by that?
MB: When your income is reduced there should also be an immediate
reduction in your expenses. I firmly believe that if you get creative you
can still enjoy many of the things you’ve become accustomed to. In some
cases it is about finding appropriate alternatives. In the book I talk
about how to still take your family on adventures without the typical
Another example is how I show readers to negotiate better payments or term
arrangements with their creditors, thus reducing the amount they are
paying each month. In one example I interviewed a newly laid off person
who called their cable company and told them their situation and asked for
help. The cable company gave them an immediate payment reduction of $20.00
per month, no more questions asked.
SB: One of the claims you make in your books says you can help
readers find “hidden” jobs. Can you share some insight on how you do that?
MB: Many jobs go unadvertised because many employers now rely on
their professional network for referrals. So there may be a job that is
perfect for you, but you may never know it if you are not connected to the
hiring manager in some way. Ideally, you would at least have access to the
individuals who know those hiring managers.
There are several ways to handle this. Two of my favorites are job fairs
and the chamber of commerce. Here’s why. At job fairs you have an
opportunity to walk right up to employers and meet their representatives
face to face. Before, you were at the mercy of email, the post office, or
the company’s front desk receptionist to get your resume to the hiring
manager. At a job fair you are welcome to approach the employer in person,
make your pitch, and inquire about both advertised and unadvertised
positions. That makes a huge difference.
Secondly, many chambers of commerce now allow unemployed individuals to
join at a special discounted rate. Your membership gives you direct
access, through the chamber’s events and resources, to the management
teams of the companies you are interested in working for.
SB: What do you suggest are the most important things someone who
has lost their job or has received a reduction in pay should be doing?
MB: I talk about many different strategies for getting back to
work, cutting costs, and minimizing the economic impact of unemployment.
However, some of my favorites are:
1) Health fairs – most are free and hosted by many professional
medical practitioners from a variety of fields. They are an excellent
alternative for monitoring your health if you have lost your insurance.
2) Go directly to the competition – Your old employer’s competition
would most likely want you to come work for them as you have insider
experience and specific industry training.
3) Job fairs – an excellent forum for networking and meeting many
decision makers in person all at the same time.
4) Making your things last longer – learning to stretch out the
useful life of your things will save you on yearly replacement costs.
5) Get a commitment from your old boss – ask her for a written
reference and to connect you with others she knows in the industry who may
want to hire you or at least refer you to someone who is hiring.
6) Learn to negotiate and haggle – You have nothing to lose and
everything to gain. It is a fact that you have a 50% chance of getting a
better deal simply by asking for it, without any concession on your part.
That applies to your expenses and when you are negotiating a new salary.
You can learn more about How To Scare The Hell Out Of Unemployment at the
book’s website, www.scarethehelloutofunemployment.com.