Friday, January 9, 2009

U.S. unemployment rate reaches 7.2 percent...

The AP reports today that unemployment rates continued their historic rise in December to 7.2 percent. More than half a million Americans were sent home for good in one month - again. The United States unemployment rate was last this high 16 years ago.

Where others see depression (oops, mentioned the "D" word), I see opportunity. The unemployed folks are building a small army. With nearly one in every 10 Americans out of work, we're 11+ million strong. The image above does not depict a crowd in search of food and government checks, but rather an army in search of answers and government action.

No, not the action taken by lawmakers to give U.S. automakers billions in bailouts. We're certainly glad to hear that Rick Wagoner and General Motors (GM) will receive $13.4 billion to assist their needs, but in the words of Luke Skywalker when asked to join the dark side, "What's in it for me?"

If a long term solution is the answer, why didn't the government implement one a long time ago? It is now an accepted fact that the current recession, entering its second year, is the longest in 25 years.

As a communication professional, I understand that traditional news media are bound to objectivity (for the most part). Thus the opportunity and power of social media, user controlled media, can be further realized. As of 11:20 a.m. (eastern), an "unemployment" search on Technorati yielded more than 42,000 results with roughly 900 new related posts each day this week.

The economy may be discouraging, but it is very encouraging to see the conversation continue online; to read how this recession and unemployment affects others, how real people are dealing with real tough times, and most of all, to feel like I'm not alone. I'm not suggesting that thousands of unemployed Americans will gain employment by discussing it online, but at least we stand a better chance of being heard.

Here are some recent unemployment posts/blogs:

Real people, real lives, really unemployed:


Related news - My "Recession 'PR'oof" post discusses the resistence of the public relations and marketing industries to a recession.

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year, New Hope

Happy New Year!

Or in my case, Hopeful New Year.

The Chinese Year of the Ox. I'm not sure what the Chinese horoscope for "Ox"alleges, but I hope that "resilient, strong and proud" are adjectives involved. Those words describe my wife and I and the type of year we need.

I've been unemployed for two months now. The holidays may have been jolly and bright, but finances are getting scary and tight.

Somewhat to my relief (I'm still unemployed so I ain't counting any chickens), my efforts may be beginning to pay dividends. I have a nice part-time prospect in the works with a Hickory, NC marketing firm. Offering your services on a part-time basis is not a step down, but rather a form of compromise that meets mutual business needs. You need your foot in the door to get a seat at the table...

I'm also exploring freelance writing opportunities on I think the service has good potential for freelance writers (work in creative writing, web copywriting, blogging, editing, articles and brochures are all posted frequently), but it's highly competitive and is limited as a free service. Naturally more money yields more options.

Finally, I'm constantly networking in Charlotte, working my way around the PR and marketing circles, scheduling networking lunches and calls to the best of my ability. It never hurts to introduce yourself and ask for advice from someone with more experience. Networking is a tree: Start with a seed and branch out, eventually it will bloom.

Parting piece of advice from the guy with no job: Persist, persist, persist! Not to be confused with "don't take 'no' for an answer." If a company tells you they're not interested, thank them for their time and get back with them later. However, if an email or voice mail goes unanswered, you'd better send another...and another.

Don't send the contact(s) the same thing each time though. It's like pitching in public relations. Introduce yourself and the reason you're contacting them first, then follow-up with a different piece of information (resume, experience highlights, tie-in with recent event of relevance).

Also, take the lead and suggest times to meet or talk versus asking the contact to do so. It's easier for them to say "OK" then "How about 2:00 Wednesday at T.G.I.F.'s on Charlotte Ave.?"

My wealth of advice and knowledge will hopefully translate into financial wealth in 2009, but until then, the journey continues...