When opportunities are lacking, create your own

Being unemployed sucks. Yup. It sure does. But it only sucks if you let it suck (don’t worry, I’ll explain!)

In this economy, its definitely been tough to find meaningful employment and it can be a huge drag. It definitely dragged me down. When you’re used to being busy with school or with a job and then become unemployed, it can be an extremely hard transition (both mentally and physically). There’s only so much work you can do for free before you have to say, “Ok, now I need to start earning some money to put food on the table and a roof over my head.”

Full-time permanent jobs are lacking and for the most part it’s only permanent part time jobs or short-term contracts that are being offered (this applies to most fields, not just arts and culture). Rick Mercer refers to this “phase” as “discount Canada” (please watch the video!) It’s true, people “…who work hard for a living, can’t make a living at all.” How can anyone make a living on part-time hours at minimum wage? Answer: they can’t. Many of my fellow friends and acquaintances are unemployed and it’s not by choice or because they’re lazy. We’re all recent (or recent-ish) graduates in very different fields and are all experiencing the same thing; unemployment. Part of the problem (among many others) is that no one wants to take a chance.

I’ve searched high and low for jobs in every field that you could possibly think of. I’ve done anything and everything to my resume, I’ve attended numerous networking events and overall, I’ve had two responses: a) I’m overqualified or b) I’m underqualified (and I’m sure many of us are experiencing the same thing).

OK, so for those who say candidates are overqualified, why wouldn’t you want someone who’s overqualified?! Seriously. Think about it. They’re obviously willing to work for you (at whatever wage you are offering) because they applied for the job in the first place! If you’re afraid to take a chance because you think they’ll leave if something “better” comes along, then that’s your prerogative, but it’s not a valid argument. Take them and use their skills for as long as you can – they’ll benefit your organization. Who knows, maybe they want to stay in your business and make it a career? Don’t assume things. You can’t predict someone else’s career moves!

For those of you who say candidates are underqualified, how are we supposed to become qualified if you won’t give us a job? “Lack of experience” is a line I’ve heard many of my friends and colleagues repeat to me after a post job-decision debrief. It’s a vicious cycle that is very difficult to get out of. Take a risk, teach us things and give us that experience! Don’t take the easy way out.

So, my simple and short piece of advice to employers, take a chance. You won’t regret it.


Now, to the main point of my blog post. Opportunities haven’t exactly been slapping me in the face and in this economy they are few and far between, so, instead of just sitting around waiting for those opportunities to come to me, I created my own. For those of you who know me, I did the exact same thing with Ignite Culture. Opportunities were lacking in affordable and accessible networking events for young arts and culture professionals, so I decided to create my own and it took the form of Ignite Culture. This allowed for those in the field to showcase their skills and knowledge, in a relaxed environment, that didn’t cost them $700.

Same thing goes for jobs. If jobs are lacking, create your own (ambitious, I know). This is what I’ve done with The Social Studio. I offer social media consultation, education and management for small business and cultural organizations. Social media is a passion of mine so why not do something for a living, that you’re passionate about, and learn something from it? My long term goal is to gain employment in a larger, innovative organization (I could go on here about my long term goals and who I want to work for, but that’s not the point of this blog post). The experience of running a business is one that I’m sure I will learn a lot from until an opportunity presents itself and I can develop my skills further. I can bring these skills to that opportunity which is something that others might not have.

So, what do I want you to take from this super short blog post? Take the chance and make something of the time you have free, until the right opportunity comes along! We’re always learning and I think you should take every opportunity you have to learn something new! I know looking for a job is a full-time job in itself, but take some of the free time you have to learn something new, develop yourself and your job skills and add to your resume.