Finding a New Career in the Great Recession

In prior posts, we have covered the massive restructuring occurring in our economy.  We have recognized that millions of traditional jobs are gone, and not likely to return.  We have predicted that the new jobs of tomorrow are likely to fall within a range of self-employment options.  Today, we'll start exploring these options in more detail, beginning with the entry level opportunities that exist in self-employment today.

Making the Employment-Model Change

Switching from one career to another is a pretty well understood process.  You start with one set of skills, take a step down, and begin developing a new set of skills valuable in your new career.  Then, over time, you climb the new career ladder, with the goal of superseding your prior level of success.

The same is true when you change employment models -- even if you continue to do exactly the same type of work you did within the construct of a traditional job.  In this case, however, even though you may know everything there is to know about your skill set, you will have a whole set of other skills that are now necessary.  How do you position your skills, market your services, handle billing and collections, etc., etc.?

Since most people have only worked for others, this can be an intimidating and overwhelming hurdle to overcome.  But it needn't be.  What follows is a very simple approach to finding an entry level job in this economy.  It's actually quite easy, and if you follow the outline below, you could have a job in less than a week.

Finding Your First Job in the New Economy

When we look at the range of self-employment options, the entry level position is the one where people work on their own, without employees.  Luckily, there are many websites dedicated to helping the soloist find a job.  They also help you with things like keeping track of your time, billings and collections.  Two of my favorite sites are Odesk (which is slightly more technology focused), and Elance (which is slightly more professional services oriented).

To find a job using these web sites, follow these steps:

  • Visits the sites and, and learn about the services they offer.  Compare the way they bill you for their services, and how they process payments from your potential employer.
  • Check out the types of jobs available, and determine which ones you might be interested in pursuing.
  • Compare the available jobs, with your experience and background.  You can be very creative here.  Unlike traditional jobs, you do not have to have a perfect background, education, or experience base.  Many employers are willing to try new talent, especially if you offer lower rates, faster turn-around, or some other unique benefits.
  • Check out your competition.  How much are they charging for their services?  How do they describe themselves and the services they offer?  Where are they located? How can you compete against them?
  • Sign up for a free account, and start bidding on jobs.  Since your main goal here is to get your first job, don't worry so much about your fee.  Since most jobs are of short duration anyway, you can afford to do your first job for a low fee.

By following this approach, you'll be well on your way to a new career in the Great Recession, a career that's often a better than the one you left behind.  In fact, Elance recently held a contest asking their freelancers to describe the benefits of "The New Way to Work."  Here's one that I thought was reflective of the changes now underway:

In the next post, we'll explore moving up the self-employment career ladder.  As always, comments welcome.  Until next time ... is a blog by Jay Fenello, principal and founder of, an Atlanta-based
Business Brokerage and Placement firm that helps people buy and sell small businesses and franchises.