Finances & Money

Should You Have a Survival Job During Unemployment?

(By Go Banking Rates)

Being unemployed can make you feel useless, not to mention anxious, about the future of your finances. The outlook for American jobs isn’t great, either, as the unemployment rate in July remained at 9.5 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even worse, 45 percent of these people have been without work for 27 weeks or longer.

Obviously, you won’t remain without a job forever, but that stretch of time between getting laid off and finding a new position can drag on longer than you can afford. So what do you do during the interim to maintain an income and avoid accumulating debt?

Living Off Unemployment Benefits

Many people choose to file for unemployment as a source of income. However, it doesn’t pay much and not many people could live off that check alone for long. In fact, the average unemployment check in the U.S. per week is $293.

Relying on unemployment could be your best bet considering how bleak the job market is these days. Ultimately, though, your goal should be to begin earning your own paycheck again.

Finding New Sources of Income–the Survival Job

Many of the unemployed are seeking out survival jobs–low paying, menial positions that help them keep their heads above water while searching for a “real” job. However, CBS News reports an estimated 200,000 jobs need to open up every month to reduce the unemployment rate, but private employers added only 71,000 jobs in July. This means if you choose to take this route, you have to take what you can get.

Disadvantages of Taking the Temporary Job

If you have the opportunity to earn more than unemployment benefits are providing, or your benefits have run out, you will likely want some sort of job to provide income. Before you take the first offer that comes your way, here are a few potential drawbacks you may encounter that should be considered.

  • Less time. Your time will be spent meeting the 9 to 5 requirement of your new job instead of polishing up the resume and job hunting. It might be tough to take time off for interviews as well.
  • Step Down in Career. It’s likely whatever position you land will do little, if anything at all, to complement or enhance your current career focus and skill set. You may find that this temporary job does nothing for your resume but take up space.
  • Loss of Momentum. If you were on track toward a specific career goal, taking a different job in an unrelated field could halt your progress. You will likely have to start at the bottom of the career ladder once again and work your way back up.

Here’s Why You Should Go For It

Show you have the drive. Think about this: Would a potential employer rather see a big blank spot on your resume or find you had the ambition and humility to do what it takes to keep you and your family afloat? Sure, you may not have had the most professionally gratifying last few months, or even years, at a working class or entry level job, but you proved you do want to work and be a productive member of society.

That step down might actually be a step forward. If your industry has no hope of recovering any time soon, you may be better off starting fresh somewhere else. A job on the bottom could be the key to the top.

Keep your benefits. If you’re one of the lucky job hunters, you can snag a position that offers health benefits at the very least. Sometimes, this alone makes up for the decrease in income.

Motivation. A job, any job, will at least prevent you from spending your down time sitting on the couch and wallowing in misery. There is a sense of satisfaction that comes when you perform a job to the best of your abilities. You can also stay in a routine that involves waking up early and preparing for a day’s work each morning, which can be difficult when transitioning from unemployment to the work force.

Just remember that things may seem bad now, but you’ll find work eventually. Ivan G. Seidenberg, CEO of Verizon Communications Inc., explains, “As the economy recovers and demand returns, we are seeing across-the-board increases in sales, resulting in increased capital expenditures, less job reduction and some employment stabilization.”

So don’t worry, there is a future even for high-level professionals. Of course, standing out among the sea of job seekers by remaining motivated, persistent and hopeful will help your chances of finding work sooner.

This guest post was written by Go Banking Rates, bringing you informative personal finance content and helpful tools, as well as the best interest rates on financial services nationwide.

About the author

Clever Dude


  • If you are going to be making less than what you would be collecting in unemployment I wouldn’t suggest it. Another idea is to start doing freelance work (if possible) or getting really involved in a nonprofit and volunteering your time. This shows that you still have drive and can provide some great networking opportunities.

  • Free lancing is a great way to begin a new style of business and its a great way to get people off unemployment. Doing yard work, internet marketing, things of that nature are great ways to get finances in order and back on track

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