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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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in between jobs

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

MIT report reveals serious flaws in US unemployment system

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of COVID-19, the US unemployment system is floundering to cover all who need the aid but it comes with serious flaws.

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Stressed couple discussing options during unemployment in dimly lit room.

Last week alone, nearly 1 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. Now that it’s urgently needed, this safety net is full of holes, leaving many Americans in freefall.

A newspaper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has highlighted several of the critical weaknesses in our country’s unemployment social safety net.

The report outlines how benefits fall short in three major ways: Duration, eligibility, and payment amounts.

The historical purpose of the benefits system was to replace half of lost wages for 6 months while they looked for another job. (The MIT paper even suggests that a more appropriate “replacement rate” would be higher than that.)

As of 2018, unemployment payments only cover Americans for one-third of their lost wages on average.

The income caps for these benefits have stayed fixed while wages have increased over time. That’s bad enough without considering that wages haven’t nearly kept up with worker productivity in the US, meaning those caps haven’t kept up with the real worth of those workers at all.

Compared to other developed nations, the US has lagged behind in public benefits since well before the pandemic.

In 2014, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development compared the duration of unemployment payments around the world. Out of 34 developed countries, the US ranked 33rd— offering less than every country on the list but Hungary.

To quote the research brief for the paper: “Even aside from changes driven by technology and trade, employers’ increasing reliance on contract workers and on-demand scheduling rather than on permanent employees who work predictable schedules has added to the precariousness of many workers’ jobs.”

And those economically vulnerable groups who need the support most are more likely to have jobs that aren’t covered under federal unemployment eligibility.

This includes gig workers (thanks to prop 22), part time workers, and the self employed: People often work these jobs due to constraints like parenthood or disability.

The CARES Act, which passed in April, temporarily allowed certain groups who would usually be ineligible, like the self employed (who are poised to grow in numbers as the job shortage persists) to collect unemployment benefits.

But CARES and HEROES are going to end in December, taking the extensions to unemployment, the eviction moratorium and the COVID sick leave requirements with them.

And instead of extending them, Congress may soon be looking to cannibalize those programs and their unused funds for another round of corporate stimulus spending.

But if the coronavirus relief acts are allowed to expire, nearly 14 million Americans will lose the aid that they provide.

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Business News

Tis the season for employment scams – here’s what to look out for

(BUSINESS NEWS) Fueled even further by COVID unemployment numbers, seasonal employment scams are back on the menu. Here’s how you can avoid them.

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A serious man considers a clipboard in potential employment scams.

With the sheer amount of desperation people are feeling these days, it’s only fitting that employment scams would see a resurgence this holiday season. Thanks to the Better Business Bureau, there are some clear warning signs that can help you spot and avoid seasonal scams this year.

The typical crux of any employment scam revolves around a prospective employee’s willingness to pay for something upfront, be it training or some other kind of quasi-justifiable item (e.g., a uniform). However, other iterations of the scam actually involve an “employer” overpaying for something at the onset—albeit with a fake check—and then asking the recipient to wire “back” the extra money.

Either way, these scams can leave you jobless and with less money than you initially had, so here are some things for which you should watch out.

Firstly, employers shouldn’t ever charge you before hiring you. Some industries do require employees to make small purchases on their own dime (i.e., the aforementioned uniform), but payroll will usually deduct the cost of these materials from the employee’s first paycheck—not require payment upfront.

As a general rule, it’s probably best to avoid companies that charge you at all. Aramark, for example, is known for requiring employees to buy company clothes—and they’re no peach to work with. But desperate times may warrant an exception in this regard.

It’s also to your benefit to avoid postings that boast an “interview-free” experience. Put simply, no one is hiring sans an interview unless it’s nepotism or a scam. If you aren’t related to the poster, that doesn’t leave much up for interpretation. Similarly, advertising a large sum of money for disproportionately low amounts of work is a pretty big warning sign–again, in this economy, people aren’t shelling out for packing or wrapping jobs.

Finally, watch out for jobs that ask for a work sample before hiring. While this is common for internships, most entry-level positions aren’t going to require you to complete a project for free before determining whether or not you’re good for the job. At best, this is a tactic to get free work from you; at worst, your application information can be stolen.

It’s sad to think that people would stoop to the level of scamming others amidst the dumpster fire of a year it’s been, but if you avoid these red flags, you should be able to keep yourself safe during this holiday season.

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Business News

DMCA and Twitch streaming, aka a mess of copyright

(BUSINESS NEWS) As live-streaming is booming in popularity, DMCA claims are becoming an existential problem for Twitch. And it’s streamers who bear the burden.

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Twitch streamer in front of gaming PC, likely to face DMCA claims.

Last month hundreds of content creators on the streaming platform Twitch received DMCA takedown notices from their host at the same time, telling them that content on their channel was potentially in violation of copyright law.

Twitch has since summed up the incident in their own words on their blog. Typically, DMCA notices are supposed to provide the recipient with information about their options for submitting a counter-claim or seeking retraction. But, as the post admits, “the only option provided [to streamers] was a mass deletion tool for [their] clips, [and] we only gave [them] three days notice to use this tool.”

If they didn’t, they would risk losing their channel (and in many cases, their full time income.)

The videos in question could span thousands of hours of content, which could not realistically be deleted in the time allowed.

 

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So, what you’re saying is all potentially copywritten music clips/VODS on my channel have already been identified and deleted, so I don’t need to delete anything right now?I need clarification because I don’t have the time to go through 4 years of clips.

Twitch has pretty much looked the other way from the unlicensed use of music on its user channels throughout its history. That’s generated more than a little resentment from groups like the Recording Industry Association of America in the past, and as the site only continues to grow, a massive wave of pressure from the labels has forced the site’s hand

The music industry wants Twitch to arrange for their streamers to use audio under the terms that websites like YouTube use. That includes a diligent Content ID system.

But instead, Twitch has built an in-house solution to this whole mess: Soundtrack, which offers a “rights-cleared music” from “independent artists.”

A spokesperson from Twitch supplied this statement to The Verge: “The music from Soundtrack is put into live streams and does not end up in VODs, and therefore we and our partners agree that sync licenses are not needed for Soundtrack.”

(The music industry doesn’t see it that way though.)

Not only that, but streamers still have a lot of questions about the new expectations on the site. In one case, a streamer had to completely stop their feed because their video was picking up music from an unrelated source.

Someone can even be flagged for playing a game that uses copyrighted music on-stream. Even playing a Star Wars game that makes use of the movie’s copyrighted soundtrack is a risky move. (After all, nobody wants to take any chances with Disney’s infamously aggressive legal team.)

In their apology, they expressed a desire to explore “potential approaches to additional licenses,” but said that “the current constructs for licenses that the record labels have with other services […] make less sense for Twitch.”

Securing a given song’s licensing rights is a pretty implausible task for a young streamer, since major copyright holders don’t generally negotiate on small-scale terms. Twitch, on the other hand, has been owned by Amazon since 2014. Amazon just happens to already be one of the biggest copyright holders in the world, and obtaining the rights to the songs that are in high demand shouldn’t be a prohibitive issue for one of their companies.

But ultimately this debacle isn’t solely their fault. The DMCA is an old law— old enough to drink, even. The people who wrote it could not have possibly accounted for the rapidly expanding new media industry. Under pressures like these, something has to give.

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