What's the Best Way to Prevent Unemployment?

How to Prevent Your Own Unemployment

Unemployed worker
Paul Costiglio, a marketing and public relations professional, waits in a lobby for an interview at a foundation December 9, 2008 in New York City. Costiglio, 35, was laid off from his marketing job at The Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images

The best way to prevent unemployment is to get employed and stay that way. There are two schools of thought as to the best way to do that.

The first approach is "Do what you love and the money will follow." This means that, if you follow your passion, you'll become very, very good at it. That's because you'll put in the time required to master it. Just as important, your enthusiasm will be contagious.

 That approach often works, because enthusiasm and expertise are critical to employment success.

The second approach is to look at which industries are creating jobs and get the training needed to enter one of those fields. If you have a passion around one of these areas, consider yourself very fortunate. Here are three steps to take.

  1. The JOLTS report (Job Opening and Labor Turnover) tells you which industries have the greatest number of job openings. That's usually business services, as it's also the largest sector in the economy. Healthcare is creating lots of jobs since it is growing fast. There are also a lot of opportunities, since it requires training. As a result, healthcare employers have trouble finding qualified workers. Get trained, and you will get a job. Manufacturing jobs, on the other hand, are not increasing at the same rate. JOLTS will let you know, in general, who's hiring and who's firing. 
  1. The next step is to look at Industries at a Glance. That gives you detailed information about each industry, including wages, the number of jobs being added, and the overall health of the industry.
  2. Once you've selected your industry, the Department of Labor provides the Occupational Outlook Handbook. It tells how to prepare for specific jobs within industries.

    What's the Best Way to Prevent Unemployment for You? 

    The first approach might not work if there are few opportunities. You will find the field to be very competitive. An example is becoming a movie star or professional sports player. You may need a great deal of luck to make a living at it. You might get frustrated when you are constantly turned down. You could also lose time in the early part of your career to a pursuit that doesn't pay off. Then, when you are in your thirties or forties, it might be too late to begin again.

    The second approach might not work if you ignore your values or what you enjoy. You might spend years training to become a nurse, only to find out you get queasy at the sight of blood. JOLTS will tell you there are lots of opportunities in retail or restaurants. Unfortunately, many of jobs don't pay well. Others don't give you a chance for promotion. If you're not happy in your work, you won't be enthusiastic. That will also harm your chances for promotion.

    Therefore, a balance between the two approaches is the best method for preventing unemployment. Use your passion to start a home-based business. Then, use the JOLTS to find an area that provides additional streams of income from part-time work.

    That's why many actors wait tables while working hard to get that big break.

    What if you aren't starting out, and need to stay in your existing industry? Then  you must engage in continual training in your field. You can use JOLTS and the Occupational Handbook to find areas within your area of expertise that are growing. You can get training for those specific areas. 

    The best way to prevent unemployment is to constantly improve your skills. Every dollar you spend on training is an investment in your best product, yourself. Use JOLTS and the Handbook to look at areas that pay well and that you might enjoy. Take classes on anything that sounds interesting. Apply for jobs that sound like fun. That will give you experience in job interviews. Improve your math, speaking, and writing skills. All employers look for someone that presents themselves well.


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