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How to survive when you’re in between jobs (shame free)

(CAREER) It’s already stressful enough to find a job, but covering costs in between jobs can be scary, and downright traumatic. Let’s talk about your options – you HAVE options and there’s no shame in getting some wins right now. You deserve them!

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No matter how much we plan, life happens. People quit jobs, they get fired and everything in between. No matter what takes place in the grey areas of unemployment, there’s always the question of “what do I do now?”

It’s hard not to have a job. Like, really hard. People tie their identity to their work ethic, to how much they get done, how much they make. There are a lot of people in the world that shudder at the mere mention of retirement because they value their daily routine of getting up to pull on their work boots so much.

So, what are you supposed to do if you’re in between jobs?

You’ve got options. The sky isn’t officially falling. Right now, it’s a pretty manageable time to be unemployed. While yes, there is unemployment that you can collect, who wants to deal with that? There’s constant checking in, making sure no one is gaming the system, on top of it’s a fraction of what most people make. It’s a useful safety net to ensure that you’re able to eat and pay essential utilities, but collecting unemployment and not looking for a job shouldn’t be how you’re spending time.

There’s doing the temp agency thing, but that’s a total crapshoot. No one ever knows where they’ll end up. If you’re cool with rolling the dice and taking what you can get in terms of making money, then it works. If you don’t want to potentially be doing the worst work possible, then throwing your name into a temp worker pool might not be for you. Some jobs need sets of hands to haul boxes or help set up for an event, on the other hand, a temp agency might have you scrubbing a dead person’s house.

It really depends on what you’re willing and, more importantly, not willing to do. If you’re a little squeamish about making a buck cleaning up the dearly departed Aunt Abigail’s pee-scented cat mansion, proceed with caution.

Around cities like Austin and Houston, Rudy’s BBQ pays well above minimum wage if you can learn the art of exact meat cutting. Hardware stores need people to haul lumber, and help stock shelves. There are plenty of retail spaces that need people, and there’s always the service industry. Many people have waited tables and tended bar during a transitional period. Plus, the social landscape is different every night.

And there’s a lot of opportunities to make good money, depending on where you work. If you’re good with people and love chatting, the service industry might be for you. If you’re a little more buttoned-up and aren’t big on small talk with strangers, maybe not.

Impact your wallet immediately.

Probably the easiest way to make an impact while trying to figure out your next move is to utilize the gig economy. Applying, interviewing, silently sobbing in coffee shops, all of those things take a lot of time. The gig economy offers flexibility, which is enormous. There’s no shame in delivering food or picking up people who need a ride.
It’s money coming in and there’s always a demand. Right now, the gig economy is generating billions – with a B for companies. The workers are a massive slice of that pie.

I work at Adia, where we’ve found that most of our workers aren’t the pink haired folks’ social media would like us to believe, but instead, it’s a lot of people who are looking for extra cash or stuck between a job and needing to make sure the light bill is paid. Like Lyft, Uber, or Favor, we’ve made sure that our jobs are flexible, that people can live their lives, and keep hustling, no matter what their career demands. (We help people in every industry find gigs from the service industry, distro centers, and even worked a Rolling Stones show. There’s a lot to choose from.)

If you’re an immigrant who’s new to an area, the gig economy is even better – it’s a feet first way to make a splash into a local economy. There are a lot of people moving to cities like Austin and Houston, and because of that boom, some of those people aren’t native English speakers. Working short term gigs from driving to stocking shelves or cleaning hotel rooms allows for new residents of the country to get a feel for the speed of the city, but also develop core English competency, which will serve them in the long run.

Another perk of the gig economy while in between a job is the benefits. Let’s just be honest: Cobra sucks. No one in their right minds would ever want to willingly sign up for a program that can financially ruin you, only to have government-mandated health insurance you’re (hopefully) not using. And on top of that, if you use Cobra, it’s pretty terrible coverage. Adia offers insurance if a worker hits their minimum hours worked a week.

Plus, some companies (like us) offer a W-2 if a worker doesn’t want to deal with the hoops of 1099. A 1099 makes sense for some workers thanks to write off, but that’s only for certain contexts. We put people on a W2 so there’s no hoops of the 1099 – which, if you’ve been paying attention to what Uber and Lyft are fighting in courts across the country, is a way better arrangement.

So far, for workers, it’s been a choice between enjoying the flexibility of a 1099, or the employee benefits of W2 status, but we’re letting you have your cake and eat it too. Flexibility and benefits are no longer mutually exclusive – well, at least with us, it’s not.

That’s why having taxes taken out can be a big help when April comes around. No one wants to owe when they’re already working toward full employment. Cutting a check to the government hurts, especially when every dollar counts.

Some workers are embracing Amazon Flex, while others find luck in flipping goods from garage sales. (Gary Vee has a whole video of him flipping $40 of garage sale stuff and turning it into $430.) But, those both come with their challenges. If you want to flip old records or kid’s toys on eBay, you’re going to have to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the crowds.

For real, you can score some wins right now

Despite our political woes, the job market is healthy for both skilled and unskilled labor. In our home city of Austin, we’re sitting at a 3% unemployment rate across the board – in most cases, we’ve got more jobs than people. The Wall Street Journal has cited Austin as the number one job market, and Houston is also ranked high. There’s opportunity everywhere in Texas.

If you find yourself in a position of stocking shelves at Target, there’s nothing wrong with that. You’re putting food on the table. If you’re lucky enough to work for HEB, they pay well, and they’ll put you through college. What matters is utilizing the time and energy to land a gig that makes you happy, but also finding one that moves your career upward. If you’re trying to land that dream graphic design job, but need the time to work on your craft, that’s cool – sign up with us. We’d love to help you level up.

Just remember, whatever you do, there’s no shame in survival.

The numbers are on your side. You’ll find that dream gig. It might take a little longer than you’d like, but you’re not alone. While the process can seem miserable when there’s a constant stream of NO hitting the inbox, there are most definitely companies out there who want you to win. We’re one of them.

Robert Dean is a writer at Adia and The American Genius. He is a writer, journalist, and cynic. His most recent novel, The Red Seven is in stores. Currently, he’s working on his newest novel, Tragedy Wish Me Luck. He also likes ice cream and panda bears. He currently lives in Austin. Stalk him on Twitter.

Business News

Leadership versus management: What’s the difference?

(Business News) The two terms, leadership and management, are often used interchangeably, but there are substantial differences; let’s explore them.

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leadership Startups meeting led by Black woman.

Some people use the terms “leader” and “manager” interchangeably, and while there is nothing inherently wrong with this, there is still a debate regarding their similarities or differences.

Is it merely a matter of preference, or are there cut and dry differences that define each term?

Ronald E. Riggio, professor of leadership and organizational psychology at Claremont McKenna College, described what he felt to be the difference between the terms, noting the commonality in the distinction of “leadership” versus “management” was that leaders tend to engage in the “higher” functions of running an organization, while managers handle the more mundane tasks.

However, Riggio believes it is only a matter of semantics because successful and effective leaders and managers must do the same things. They must set the standard for followers and the organization, be willing to motivate and encourage, develop good working relationships with followers, be a positive role model, and motivate their team to achieve goals.

He states that there is a history explaining the difference between the two terms: business schools and “management” departments adopted the term “manager” because the prevailing view was that managers were in charge.

They were still seen as “professional workers with critical roles and responsibilities to help the organization succeed, but leadership was mostly not in the everyday vocabulary of management scholars.”

Leadership on the other hand, derived from organizational psychologists and sociologists who were interested in the various roles across all types of groups.

So, “leader” became the term to define someone who played a key role in “group decision making and setting direction and tone for the group. For psychologists, manager was a profession, not a key role in a group.”

When their research began to merge with business school settings, they brought the term “leadership” with them, but the terms continued to be used to mean different things.

The short answer, according to Riggio is no, not really; simply because leaders and managers need the same skills to be productive and respected.

This editorial was first published here in June of 2014.

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Business News

Does Raising Cane’s have the secret to combatting restaurant labor shortages?

(NEWS) Fried Chicken Franchise, Raising Cane’s, has turned to an unusual source of front-line employees during the labor shortage- Their executives!

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White paper sign with black text reading "Help Wanted."

I wouldn’t call myself a fried chicken aficionado or anything, but since chains are designed to blow up everywhere, I have experienced Raising Cane’s.

I’m pretty sure the Cane’s sauce is just barbecue mixed with ranch, but hey, when you’ve got a good idea, keep with it.

In the further pursuit of good ideas, the company has resorted to an intriguing method of boosting staff in a world where the lowest paid among us are still steadily dying of Covid, and/or choosing to peace out of jobs that they don’t find worth the infection risk.

Via Nation Restaurant News: “This is obviously a very tough time, so it was a joint idea of everybody volunteering together to go out there and be recruiters, fry cooks and cashiers —whatever it takes,” said AJ Kumaran, co-CEO and chief operating officer for the Baton Rouge, La.-based quick-service company, from a restaurant in Las Vegas, where he had deployed himself.”

The goal of this volunteer mission, which involves 250 of the 500 executives deployed working directly in service roles, is to bolster locations until 10,000 new hires can be made in both existing locations and locations planned to open.

It’s obvious that this is a bandaid move – execs exist for good reason, and in terms of sheer numbers (not to mention location and salary changes), this is hardly tenable long-term. But I can say this as someone who’s gone from retail to office, and back (and then forth…and then back again) several times – if this doesn’t keep everyone at the corporate level humble, and much more mindful of employees’ needs, nothing will.

The fast-food world is notorious for wonky schedules only going up a day before the week begins, broken promises on hours (both over and under), horrendous pay, and little to no defense of employee dignity in the face of customers with rank dispositions. With the wave of strikes (Nabisco, John Deere, IATSE) making the news, and lack of hazard pay/brutal physical attacks over mask mandates still very fresh in workers’ minds, smart companies are hipping themselves to the fact that “low level” employee acquisition and retention needs to be much more than the ‘work here or starve’ tactics that have served since the beginning of decades of wage stagnation. The best way for that fact to stay front-of-mind is to go out and live the truths behind it.

In Raising Cane’s case, the company also announced that they’re upping wages at all locations — to the tune of an actually not totally insulting $2 per hour, resulting in a starting wage of $15 and a managerial wage of $18.

Ideally, paying people more to cook, clean, and customer service all in one job will actually attract people back to fast food work. Seriously consider the fact that the people cleaning fast-food toilets are the same people making the food that goes into your mouth. The additional fact is that it’s better for everyone’s health when they’re paid enough to care about what they’re doing and stay healthy themselves.

Of course, one does also need to consider how much inflation has affected the price of goods and housing since the ‘fight for $15’ began almost a decade ago in 2012. Now, raising wages closer to the end point of multiple goods still might not be enough!

AJ Kumaran continued, “The chicken prices are through the roof. Logistics are very hard. Shipping is difficult. Simple things cups and paper napkins — everything is in shortage right now. Some are overseas suppliers and others domestic suppliers. Just in poultry alone, we have taken significant inflation.”

That’s global disruption for ya.

It remains to be seen whether this plucky move can save Raising Cane’s dark meat, but I’m very pro regardless. Send more top-earning employees into the trenches! No more executives with 0 knowledge of how the sausage sandwich gets made.

No more leading from behind.

Why not? What are ya? Chicken?

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

This story was first published in November 2020.

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