September 20, 2012

Are You Unemployable?

Are you unemployable? My husband Paul is. He has a hard time putting up with incompetence. He likes working alone. He has a home office and can shuffle to work in jeans and a t-shirt. He is not dinged for his appearance – except occasionally by me... He works 60 hours per week since his work is engrossing and deadlines require long hours. He has a reputation for delivering high quality reports and is well respected for his opinion in a very difficult area of practice. He is a criminal/ forensic psychologist. His work is the product of his labor and his expertise alone. He works for the hardest boss ever- himself.

After he finished graduate school he cut his teeth working as a Psychologist for the California Youth Authority where he got excellent training and developed credibility and expertise as a forensic psychologist. While at the CYA he acquired his license to practice psychology. But the pace was slow and the pay was low. He found he could grow and expand his area of practice faster by going out on his own. He let go of his position with the CYA bit by bit, starting in 1986. He has worked for himself ever since.

A large and growing segment of the labor force in 2012 is coming to the same realization: working for yourself can sometimes be the best option. This is particularly true for 18 to 29 year olds. Discouraged millennials have given up on the unemployment line or working for someone else. They have figured out how to provide a service that people are willing to pay for.

Lets face it- it is a pain to get dressed, drive to work through rush hour traffic, punch a clock, and get hassled about accessing social media during work hours... Then you have to put up with the annoying slacker working in the next cubicle. And don’t even mention the secretary who rolls her eyes at any request you make. Wouldn’t you rather work at home?

Risk taking is a part of working for yourself, but what have you got to lose? You already have a laptop and the dining room table can be cleared to accommodate your new business. The web and social media make it possible for you to market yourself on the cheap. And there are probably people who are asking you for your help with something you love doing anyway. Now figure out how to charge for your services!

According to the US Census Bureau, over 4.5 million people worked at home in 1960. Between 1960 and 1980 the number of Americans who worked at home declined by over 50%, dropping to less than 2.1 million, reflecting a dramatic drop in people who worked in farming.

The trend reversed itself in the 1990 census when 3.4 million people worked at home, telecommuting via computer. That represented only 3% of the workforce. By 2009 the numbers were climbing with 5.9 million people - 4.3% of the workforce - working from home.

In 2007, the number of home-based firms without other paid employees was 6.4 million. This is a staggering number of people who are solo entrepreneurs. These are the new "farmers" of America.

Technology has made it possible for millennials to create an existence as a solo entrepreneur or professional practitioner. Creative millennials have figured out that they can generate an income by working for themselves and they don’t need a huge support staff or expensive equipment just to get started... They just need a good head and a computer. This is within reach cost-wise for just about anyone who has a good idea.

Recent changes in the healthcare law are also factoring into the equation. The need for healthcare coverage has kept many people from starting a business. Healthcare coverage has traditionally been through employment. With Obamacare, individuals can find affordable healthcare independent of their employment.

Young people coming of age during the great recession have by and large missed out on working for large corporations in high paying jobs ... Many of those jobs have been off shored, outsourced, and replaced by automation technology. Companies have downsized and refused to hire until the economy starts showing signs of a serious recovery.

So what is an unemployed person to do? For millennials (or anybody) tired of waiting for the perfect job offer and willing to take the risk – you have the tools, you have the talent, and you have the ideas – so go for it!