Pet sitting and substitute teaching gigs may be a far cry from the salaried position you were laid off from, but don't count them out as employment opportunities. The flipside is a long stint of unemployment that can make a serious dent in your savings and even drive you into debt.
If you've been out of work for an extended period of time, it may be time to consider jobs unrelated to your field—and perhaps out of your comfort zone—that can create a stream of income while you're waiting for the job market to improve. "It's better to be under-employed than unemployed. As we know, when you have nothing coming in, those bills get way out of hand," says Deborah Jacobson, author of Survival Jobs: 154 Ways to Make Money While Pursuing Your Dreams.
Jacobson's "survival jobs" involve putting your unique skills to work and looking for jobs in places you may not have previously considered. "It doesn't have to be a steady 9:00 to 6:00 job—this could be something people can do on the weekends, evenings, in between," she says.
Looking for flexibility? Caretaking jobs may involve helping seniors with yard work and housekeeping a few times a week, or spending time with them each day. "Many [children] are willing to hire a professional companion to look after a parent, maybe just reading to them a couple hours a day," says Jacobson. Elderly pet owners may also need help with pet care, such as dog walking.
You can also earn money by simply teaching what you know. "Everyone can teach something," says Jacobson, be it a foreign language, gardening, fix-it-yourself skills, marketing, or how play a musical instrument. Offer to teach a class at a local community college, she suggests, or in a continuing education course. You might even meet people in your class who are willing to hire you for a full-time job.
If you're looking to offer services such as teaching, caretaking, pet sitting, and party planning, social networking sites like LinkedIn and Facebook, as well as community job boards, can help you get the word out. Post flyers at neighborhood pubs, coffee houses, and on community listservs. "The worst thing people do when they get laid off is to go home and lay on the couch, close the door," says Jacobson. "You have to look at it as an opportunity to share your skills share your talents in a new way."
While you're sending out resumes and waiting to land an interview for a job in your field, look for temporary work. Catering companies and hotels typically have plenty of openings on account of high employee turnover and they also have an abundance of seasonal positions. You'll find that these jobs typically require no experience. Hotel jobs are also a good bet for younger job seekers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, some 20 percent of workers at hotels and other lodging places were younger than 25 in 2008, compared with 13 percent for all industries.
Substitute teaching is another job that can help carry you through a tough employment market. Although education and certification requirements for substitutes vary by state and school district, they're typically not as stringent as those for full-time teachers, says Jacobson. Her tip: Gigs are easier to land at private schools since experience and certification are often not required. "You don't have to go through the same bureaucracy," she says. The national average for substitute teacher pay is $105 per full day, according to the National Substitute Teachers Alliance.