A Love Story, Part 1: Prelude to a Job Search

I have been trying to figure out what to do with my life for months now. I left my job at Williams Chevrolet in March, packed all my belongings into storage and left Traverse City all together in April.

Why'd I leave my job? Working for my last employer was like being in a relationship with a bipolar boyfriend. Also, I was planning on moving out of the state, back to Idaho, by the summer. And, I had decided I was going to focus on my own digital marketing business.

My son Ezekiel, right, with our younger cousins Nicole & Robin.
Luckily, I have wonderful family members -- my cousin Laura and her family -- who took in me and my 19-year-old son as I prepared to back to Idaho and worked for myself. Making Grand Rapids, Michigan, my launching pad, another cousin, Dawn, offered me a job at the restaurant she manages to earn some gas and food money. Meanwhile, my son took a paid position, thanks to the recommendation of yet more of our cousins, at a summer camp, where he gained valuable experience and made friends. We've had the opportunity to see a lot of our family, including my dad, over these past few months -- anniversary, graduation and birthday parties, holiday get-togethers and movie dates.

In regards to moving back to Idaho, nothing seemed to come together. The stars were simply not aligning for this mission. By the end of the summer, my son had decided he was happy to stay in Grand Rapids and make it his home. He talked about getting roommates. Since the resources to move out of state failed to make an appearance -- and leaving my son to move 2,500 miles away didn't make much sense -- I decided to follow his lead. After all, Grand Rapids is great place to live. It's the second largest city in Michigan, it's affordable to live here and most of my family -- who have proved to be a marvelous support system -- live in West Michigan. Plus, I can't deny the pull of the Great Lakes. I love being near the water.

Ultimately, through some soul searching and values developing, I decided I was DONE being a gypsy -- picking up and starting a whole new life so far from people who love me. Afterall, I'm not in my 20s anymore. I'm not even in my 30s for goodness sake! I'm at a point in my life where I am truly craving to plant deep roots, call one community my home and maybe even find the love of my life.

My cousin, Dawn, the one who manages the restaurant, and I decided to become housemates and are renting a large 4-bedroom home close to downtown. My son, Ezekiel, is our third housemate. He works at a screen printing business and happily lives in the attic room.

Now, as the leaves begin to turn vibrant colors, I'm looking for a job -- maybe it's a part-time job that allows me to build my business on the side. Or maybe it's a whole new career in which I can grow and retire. More on that later.

But for now, what I've learned over the summer, is that I really love my family and I'm very blessed to have them in my life -- my son, my father, aunts, uncles and cousins. I need them, and I think they need me. And before finding that love of my life I mentioned earlier, I'm determined to find the career of my life. So let it begin...


Federal Employees on Furlough Make Money with Contract and Day Work

Federal employees on furlough find job opportunities at www.laborfeed.com

Federal employees on furlough find job opportunities at http://www.laborfeed.com

On it’s seventh day of a U.S. government shutdown, about 800,000 federal workers have been furloughed — off the job and without pay — because of the partial government shutdown that began last Tuesday.

If you’re a furloughed worker, and you need to make your financial ends meet, you might consider using your time and skills to make some money with contract or day work. Simply post a worker ad at LaborFeed.com. It’s free to create an account and post an ad.

Do you need to hire workers for your small business or home?  It’s free to post a job ad at LaborFeed.com.


How to Make Your Small Business Profitable in a Post-recession Economy

If you’re finding it more difficult to keep your small business afloat in a post-recession economy, it might be time to face the truth — the Zero Moment of Truth. You see, customers are buying; just not from you. Instead,…

Coming Back to the Women’s Resource Center

WRC Volunteers in training, Jan. 2012.The following blog post was originally published January 2013 at Williams Auto Blog, a blog I created and updated while working as the Communications Director at Williams Chevrolet Honda Kia.

The following blog post was originally published February 2012 at Arise Girl, my personal story blog.

I recently completed volunteer training for the Women’s Resource Center for the Grand Traverse Area. This was the second time I completed the WRC training, the first being in 1996 — only a few years from being serviced as a client in 1993.

Now, about 18 years later and having much more life behind me, I was in a training group consisting of about 10 volunteers and social work interns (including just one man).

We learned about the cycle of violence  and the power & control wheel. We focused on domestic violence and sexual assault law in the Grand Traverse Area, as well as advocacy for victims and their children. The Women’s Resource Center programs include: shelter services, support groups, transitional housing, referrals, prevention education and other direct services.

I first came to the WRC as a client at age 22 — in a emotionally abusive relationship, homeless and about 5 months pregnant. My boyfriend at the time, who seemed to enjoy locking me in the bedroom or waking me up in the middle of the night to yell at me, had kicked me out of the house where we lived with his grandparents, and then — just a couple of days later — threatened to commit suicide if I didn’t move back in with him.

In the dead of winter, when my car was broken down and I was in the middle of exams at Northwestern Michigan College, I felt I had no where to turn.

Inexperienced with relationships and lacking a support system, I made a call to the WRC, asking for advice on how to handle my situation. Thankfully, I was convinced to come immediately into the shelter when the person on the other end of the phone said, “Sylvia, if he’s willing to hurt himself, he’s also willing to hurt you.”

Zeke with Mary Lee Lord, 1997.

An hour later, I was in a safe place, with food, a warm bed, counseling and resources to help me get into a more positive situation. I lived at the shelter for more than a month, finished my exams, got my car repaired and found a new place to live, thanks to the Pregnancy Care Center of the Traverse Bay Area, who matched me with a shepherding home. (I talked about this experience in my last post.)

One of the best outcomes in my experience at the WRC was getting to know Mary Lee Lord, the late executive director of the center. She had been a nurse and had a sincere and calming aura about her. I think she even had a rocking chair in her office, if I remember correctly. To this day, I consider her one of my greatest mentors, even though we only spoke alone a few times. I would talk to her about my future plans and goals as a mom and when I did ‘this’ and when I did ‘that’, etc. She gave me at least two snippets of essential advice I have never forgotten. 1) Life is about the process, not the event; 2) My son would need me around more as a teenager, than he would as a small child. Boy, what she right about both!

Well, it feels right to be back in Traverse City after being gone for the last 14 years. “Right back where we started from,” as my mother used to say. I even think back to a hope I had about 10 years ago, to work in or even run a women’s shelter. Huh! (Read the article that proves it) Now, I have a chance to remember my history and share that story with my son. At the same time, I have an opportunity to give back and spread the word — two of my finer qualities, I think.

A Car Dealership and its Dog

Fancy is our greeter in the Williams Chevrolet showroom.

Fancy is our greeter in the Williams Chevrolet showroom. See the video: http://youtu.be/pPa-4jR1H1k

The following blog post was originally published January 2013 at Williams Auto Blog, a blog I created and updated while working as the Communications Director at Williams Chevrolet Honda Kia.

Meet our new greeter Fancy, a Border-Collie and Cocker Spaniel mix — I think. Although, some customers have guessed a Border-Collie and Sheltie mix. Since mid-December of 2012, Fancy has been working for belly rubs and chest strokes in our Chevrolet showroom most days of the week, at least part time. She’s become a bit of a celebrity here at Williams and now has her own Fancy & Friends Facebook page.

Fancy is a found dog. She’s the most docile, loyal and humble little dog I’ve ever met. I rescued her on my way downstate from Traverse City Dec. 5. She was running against traffic in the middle of M37, a two-lane highway (who knows for how long). She was starving, weak, dirty and deliriously exhausted.

After a few days, when she was finally strong enough to walk, I brought her into the showroom. People sometimes bring their dogs into our showroom and in our service waiting area, so I knew it would be OK to bring her to work just one time. I thought, perhaps, I might find her a good home. (I have three cats and live in an apartment complex where cats are OK, but dogs are not. Although several of my neighbors have dogs.)

As the dealership owner came through the Chevy showroom that morning, I asked him if he’d like to rescue a dog. Upon meeting her and hearing her story, he made an appointment for her to get checked out at his own vet, the Grand Traverse Veterinary Hospital. He even offered to pay the bill to nurse her back to health. That’s one thing I really appreciate about my employer — his love for animals and contributions to local organizations that help animals.

I put a picture of Fancy on our Williams Facebook Page and people starting asking for updates about Fancy. The vet said she was between 8 and 10 years old. She suffered from malnutrition, had tape worm and her blood work showed problems with her kidney function and thyroid, probably due to malnutrition. She has some broken ribs, but not from a recent injury. The vet said he was sure no one ever took care of Fancy, whose name was “Dealer Dog” at the time of the vet visit, and she most likely had been abused and neglected. See more photos of Fancy.

Now Fancy is worm-free, her blood work is showing improved numbers and she’s gaining weight. She loves the homemade dog food recipe I make for her, but she’s not a fan of the veggies. Follow the link to watch a video of Fancy eating her favorite food. (I’ve since learned to finely chop the veggies, so now she eats it all gone.)

Fancy got her name from our dealership owner, Bill. In the early days of her arrival, she was still nameless and I didn’t bring her to work all the time. Bill would stop by my desk and ask, “Where’s Miss Fancy?” and inquire about her health. He said her demeanor was a good fit for the showroom and that she was welcome to be part of the family. So after a while, the name “Fancy” has stuck and I’ve started to bring her to work nearly every day. Customers enjoy meeting her and talking to her. Many people whip out their pictures of their own canines to share with us. Employees like seeing her come to work everyday, too. She’s one of the gang. See the video: Fancy at Work

Fancy has come a long way since we’ve been taking care of her. She follows me around the dealership, from Kia, to Honda, to the back lot, to Automax — everywhere. She doesn’t need a leash because she won’t take her eyes off of me. In the beginning, she couldn’t relax, sit or lay down. She would just stand close to me, with her head hung low. It seemed she was so used to hanging her head, she didn’t even know she could lift it. But she’s changing and growing every day — she lifts her head and politely asks to be pet, her eyes are less sad and more bright, she wags her tail and enjoys visiting with everyone she meets, especially kids and other dogs.

At home, she’s great with my cats and minds her own business. She loves sleeping in the bed that our Williams Kia service manager Ken Matthews gifted to her. She looks forward to our nightly walks around my neighborhood, trotting through the snow and tracking smells. She waits for the praise I give her for going potty in all the right places (anywhere but inside). I’m her momma now.

P.S. Three months after the publication of this blog post, Fancy passed away due to the eruption of a large, inoperable tumor found in her abdomen. I’m so glad I was able to have a short time with her and give her a loving home and lots of cuddles, for —  at least — her last days on earth.

Turn Your Handyman Skills into Contract and Day Work Job Opportunities

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Do you like to fix things? Turn your tools and skills into money at Laborfeed.com

Are you Mr. Fixit? Do you have the tools to succeed as a handyman (or woman?). If you’re skilled and experienced at fixing things, you might consider turning those skills into money by offering handyman services to homeowners and small businesses.

As the Fall home preparation season approaches, it’s a great time to put your skills to work for homeowners! The first step is to decide what handyman services you will offerHandymanStartup.com is a great resource to help you get started in your handyman business. Then, decide how much you will charge. Finally, find your first customers to offer your contract and day work handyman services by posting your free worker ad at www.laborfeed.com.

Being a handyman carries a “do-it-all” expectation from your customers, but formal or practical training and experience are paramount to success. Only offer skills you are experienced in, and endeavor to learn others by taking courses or reading books. You may start small and grow your handyman business as you learn new techniques and procedures.

Many handymen have special training in a few trades such as electrical engineering or plumbing, but develop personal interest in other pursuits such as house painting or automotive repair. Mechanical aptitude is a good skill to have in order to do the job, and even if the project is not in his or her area of expertise, he or she will often take it on for the learning experience.

Do you have more tips on offering handyman services? Please comment on this post to share your experience!


Create Your Own Job at LaborFeed.com

2_photoStill looking for a job? You might be looking a little longer.

The July jobs reports shows that the civilian employment-population ratio, which measures how many working-age Americans actually have jobs, was flat at 58.7 percent, near the lowest in 30 years and down from more than 63 percent before the recession.

The job market is a long way from being fully healed of the damage done by the Great Recession, according to the Huffington Post Business Blog. The total level of non-farm payroll jobs is still about 2 million below its peak in January 2008. Adding in the number of jobs that should have been created in a healthy economy, we could have a jobs deficit of 8-10 million. It could take 7 years to close the job gap.

Seven years is a long time to wait for the perfect job to come around. It might be time to create your own job. How? Evaluate your skills, package them into a service that meets a need and market yourself to small businesses and homeowners. It’s a fact that contract and day work is the new way to get a job.

LaborFeed.com is a national jobs website that was launched in a post-recession job market to help people work themselves out of joblessness and into contract and day work. It’s free to create an account, search for contact and day work jobs and post a worker ad. It’s also free for homeowners and small businesses to post a job ad.

By 2020, the majority of Americans will be part of a independent workforce. So, stop sitting back and waiting for the job market to improve. Pull yourself up by your entrepreneurial bootstraps, put one foot in front of the other and make things happen for yourself.


Top 5 Trends Shaping the Future of Contract and Day Work

If you think independent contract and day work is a cute little idea to make extra money on the side, it’s time to take it more seriously. Contract and day work is the new way to ‘get a job.’ Post your free contract or day work job or or worker ad at www.laborfeed.com

By 2020, the US will see a majority of the workforce will Be independent by 2020 as professionals embrace contract and day work as an increasingly viable option. In fact, more than 50 percent of the private workforce will be independent, according the 2012 Independent Work Preview outlined in the article published by MBO Partners, a resource provider for independent consultants. However, other sources project a 40 percent majority. (See embedded infographic). Either way, the growth of the new independent workforce is inevitable.

MBO Partners‘ top five trend predictions for the next 20 years include:

Prediction Number One — The US is entering the road to the independent majority. This shift toward a new workforce will accelerate in 2012 as both individuals and organizations embrace new models of work. Flexibility and autonomy are two key drivers of this trend with 74 percent of independents indicating that flexibility is more important than making the most money and 60 percent indicating they always wanted to be their own boss.

Prediction Number Two — The future workforce will largely be made up of experts and seasoned skilled workers, including a greater number of mature workers (those aged 55 and older) starting independent careers based on acquired expertise. Of today’s 16 million career independent workers, seven in 10 are experts whose occupation requires specialized training, skills or education, and 40 percent are mature professionals.

Prediction Number Three — Due to the growing adoption of collaborative cloud computing tools and social networks, there is a new level of community building in the workforce. Online communities have been formed around work interests, industries, and skill sets, much like traditional associations or networking groups. Professionals are employing these new social channels to find work and companies are tapping into these specialized networks to locate expert talent. The proliferation of these work-related social communities allows independents to find jobs, create project-based teams/partnerships and support professional development. Further, cloud-services and mobile devices eliminate the barriers imposed by physical location and geography, enabling the workforce to truly become location-independent.

Prediction Number Four — There has been a surge in government regulations and class action lawsuits around the issue of worker mis-classification (where companies are accused of treating employees as independent contractors for the purpose of avoiding payroll taxes, benefits, and other employer obligations). MBO Partners does not see this trend stopping — it will likely remain at pace and should further increase in 2012. In 2011, seven mis-classification laws were passed in six states. MBO Partners believes that the private sector will take the lead on addressing how current work programs, regulations and responsibilities should fit into the new model of work and continue to enable the funding of important government obligations such as tax collection. The new solution set that will succeed will need to add to, not dilute, what is already in place; it must include financial transaction systems combined with an infrastructure platform that addresses the full spectrum of considerations from legal to tax to benefits.

Prediction Number Five — With more than half of the American workforce on track to independence by 2020, old rules and systems will no longer apply. A ‘passport for independence’ — a platform that enables independent workers to move from project to project and company to company with better, more robust systems, safety nets and the tools to support them as compliant, independent businesses — becomes essential. This passport would enable independent workers to build a custom infrastructure that could include retirement and healthcare programs while installing the necessary protection to insulate their clients from mis-classification risks.

Want to hire a contract or day worker? Want to get a job? Post your free contract or day work job or or worker ad at www.laborfeed.com

The New Independent Workforce

Contract and Day Work is the New Way to Get a Job

Trying to get a job? Worrying over our slow job creation rate has become America’s new national pastime since the economic crisis of 2008, says a recent article posted by AtlanticCities.com. Read more…

While corporate profits have soared, and stock and housing markets have bounced back, we are still faced with a largely jobless recovery. What’s worse, a large percentage of the few jobs we’ve actually managed to create are low-wage, low-skill service jobs, a poor substitute for the higher-wage, mid-skill manufacturing jobs.

New research and analysis by the economic and employment data firm EMSI adds an important new wrinkle to the story. Turns out a substantial share of the jobs created in the United States since the beginning of the recession have actually been temp jobs — not just low-wage and low-skill, but low-wage, low-skill, and temporary. EMSI estimates that there are 765,000 more temp jobs today than there were in 2009. Temp jobs, which make up just two percent of the nation’s workforce, have accounted for 15 percent of all job growth over the past four years.

LaborFeed.com offers a fresh approach to contract and day work. Today’s job market is different. So we’re different too. LaborFeed.com is our answer to post-recession employment trends. With contract work on the rise, LaborFeed.com unites those looking for contract and day work with businesses and homeowners. From the professional to the laborer, we’ll help you get a job or find workers. FREE to use. Fast results. Try it now. http://www.laborfeed.com

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8 Reasons Contract and Day Work is Worth it for Retirees

hannon-cover-4_3_rx404_c534x401Excerpted from Why Part-Time or Contract Work Is Worth It, by Kerry Hannon at http://www.aarp.org.

While you still might want to work full-time, don’t discount the experience from temp jobs. Be sure to post your free worker ad today at www.laborfeed.com

To keep business trucking along, roughly one-third of companies hire people for contract and day work, recently, according to the survey of more than 3,000 hiring managers and human resource professionals. It’s an easy way for employers to get great experienced staff and save money at the same time. That can be good news for many of you, and it’s especially true if you’re a retiree and need some extra money to boost your current retirement income.

Under those circumstances, part-time or contract jobs are often perfect. They can pay enough to bolster income from investments and Social Security, often without exceeding the limits that would require a reduction in Social Security payments. Even if your Social Security payment is reduced due to earnings, those benefits are not truly lost. At your full retirement age, your payment will be increased to account for the benefits withheld. For more about working while receiving Social Security, see AARP Social Security For Dummies or contact the Social Security Administration (ssa.gov).

For all types of job seekers, though, there are scores of reasons why part-time or contract work is worth it. Here are a few to ponder:

Kerry Hannon’s newest book “Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy … And Pays the Bills “details why part-time or contract work is worth your time. — Michael J.N. Bowles

  1. It gives you something to do. Don’t discount this. Having a sense of purpose is a great thing for all kinds of reasons.
  2. It gets you in the door. It may lead to full-time work with an employer eventually. Don’t miss the opportunity.
  3. It gets you decent pay. You can make your experience a plus. Employers are typically willing to pay you generously, providing you have the chops and solve their problem or need quickly. It lets them bypass the hand-holding and learning curve stage that a younger, less experienced, but lower-paid worker might require.
  4. It builds your professional network. Nurture relationships with coworkers during your assignment. You never know where contacts may lead you, and whom they might be able to refer you to for future jobs.
  5. It lands you new and au courant references for future employers to contact about what you’ve been up to lately.
  6. It keeps your résumé alive. It’s a bone to stave off the disgrace of those gaping holes of idleness in your résumé.
  7. It keeps your skills sharp. You know the mantra: Use it or lose it.
  8. Contract work, particularly, lets you get psyched about a work project without the pressure of long-term expectations. No job is forever, anyway. This one just might be shorter than most, and that can be tremendously freeing.

You can’t expect that part-time or contract positions will lead to a full-time or ongoing position. If it is a job or a company that turns you on, though, you can subtly let it be known that you’d love an opportunity to be considered for a full-time position should things change. And, please, don’t take it personally if it doesn’t.

Even if it’s just what it claims to be, a part-time or short-term job, you still win, in my experience. First, it might be just the flexible work schedule you’re looking for. Second, if it’s a permanent, full-time job you really want, it still has your back.

When you’re making money, the truth is you feel better about yourself. You feel valued, and that’s cool. It builds confidence. That’s far healthier than shooting out résumés and not getting a single response. And seriously, you never know what might come your way when you back away from the computer screen.

Kerry Hannon, AARP’s jobs expert, is a career transition expert and an award-winning author. Her latest book is Great Jobs for Everyone 50+: Finding Work That Keeps You Happy and Healthy…and Pays the Bills.