Finding work may require a "new you"

Reinventing Yourself

by Linda Shapero

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If you are among the huge army of the unemployed, you know how difficult finding work is these days. There are people who have been out of work for two or more years, and it's not because they haven't tried to get jobs. Most have sent in applications by the hundreds only to hear nothing back. What could be more discouraging to a person who wants and needs to work?

If you're beyond brainstorming with others, making cold calls, or even checking with past employers, it's time to sit down and think about what you can do to help yourself with finding work.

Today, thousands of former employees are looking into reinventing themselves and creating a job where they aren't dependent on an outside paycheck from a company who can lay them off. This may sound scary, but if others can do it, you can, too.

First thing you will want to do is assess your talents. In other words, what are you good at that could be turned into a business? Perhaps you're the best at baking banana bread or chocolate cake. You could take samples of each around to restaurants and see if you can get an account with them to bake a certain number for set amount of money every week.

Another possibility is something that I would never have thought of if I hadn't seen it in a pet magazine. How about starting a poop removal service? Believe it or not, people pay good money to have someone come to their home and clean up their yard or dog run each week, so they don't have to do it themselves.

Still another excellent idea, particularly if you live in an area where there are retirement communities, is starting a taxi service for the elderly or others who need transportation. Print up fliers and stick them in mailboxes or post a notice on a laundry room or clubhouse bulletin board. If you initially get only a few takers, make a deal with them that if they recommend your service to friends, you will give them a discount or a free ride or two.

Have you thought about being a shopper? You can work for the elderly or for busy executives.

A business that never goes out of fashion is a cleaning service. You may have to start small. However, if you're quick and efficient and do a great job, word will spread, which could lead to expansion and hiring a few people to work for you.

If you have a truck, you could start a hauling service. There are many folks out there who have a need for things to be picked up and taken somewhere else (the city dump) but don't have the means of doing it. They will be grateful to pay for someone to come and haul away refuse, lumber, trash, etc. that cannot be picked up the usual way.

You may also enjoy having a delivery service, which can be very lucrative. Of course, you must like to spend a lot of time on the road to do this job. However, there is a definite need for a reasonably priced service such as this.

If you have taught school, you could hire yourself out for tutoring. You can set your own schedule and rates and take as many or as few clients as you wish.

A secretarial business may be to your liking, if you are fast and accurate on the computer. In most cases, you will have to pick up and deliver documents. Many services cater to only a few clients who keep them busy enough to earn a very good living (for instance doctors and/or lawyers). This is a business that can grow quickly and may require you to hire additional workers.

People are always looking for someone who can come in and do small jobs, such as hanging pictures, cleaning gutters, putting up or taking down screens, and more. If you're not sure about how to charge for your services, check out your local competition to see their rates.

If none of these tips appeal to you, look in the phonebook or online for other ideas. Someone said that tough times don't last, but tough people do. So don't let unemployment get you down. You can reinvent yourself, and you just may find yourself happier in the new career you start than you ever were while employed by someone else.

(editor's note: Please remember to check with your local government to find out what permits and licenses are needed. Also talk with your insurance agent to see if any additional coverages are required.)

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