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Escape Velocity - Getting Out of the Basement and into a Starter Job

by:
Alan McQuarrie

The economy has slowed in most parts of the world.  People are putting off retirement.  Large companies are struggling.  Jobs that are available require a high degree of specialization or education.  In many cases, temporary contract work is the only thing available.  Minimum wage service jobs are being filled with overqualified young workers who are desperate for work.  Many people are being left behind.  In Canada, young adults are delaying the transition from their parental home. Between 1981 and 2011, the proportion of young adults aged 20 to 29 who resided in their parental home rose 15.4 percent from 26.9% to 42.3% (Statistics Canada).  In Ontario, over 50% of the 20 to 29 age cohort is now living at home.

Escape velocity is the speed required for an object to break away from the gravitational pull of the earth.  Ignoring the effects of friction, that speed is 40,270 km/hr.  The question is not quite so simple in terms of escaping the pull of the family home, finding a career and starting a household. Credit Canada credit counselling services sees many young clients come through our door and when asked, many youth today say they are stuck, trapped and going nowhere.  It is increasingly hard to land that good first “entry level” job.  There just doesn’t seem to be a formula or a tried and true path to independence.  However, there are some strategies that can help you launch into a career and an adult life independent of your parents.  If you feel trapped, try some of the following:
 
  1. Establish credit.  Obtain a credit card, use it sparingly and pay it off every month.  Responsible use of credit can help you get established. Remember to pay it off diligently. If you find yourself encountering problems with credit card debt you should seek out a credit counselling service for assistance. 
  1. Save, Save, Save.  If you are fortunate to have food and shelter costs subsidized by your parents, you have a tremendous opportunity to build up financial assets to help you become independent. Avoid buying a new car or excessive expenses for clothing while saving. 
  1. Avoid the four horsemen of basement life: Depression, Isolation, Substance, Abuse. If any of these take over your life, you will have a hard time reaching escape velocity. Unfortunately, like a bad infection, once any of these take hold, it’s hard to get rid of them. Tending to your mental health and maintaining real, supportive relationships is vitally essential. 
  1. Cast a wide net and pursue a broad range of opportunities.  Build a network of connections through friends and family and ask them to help you find opportunities.
  1. Get coaching on resume and cover letter writing. It is amazing how many resumes and cover letters do not match job postings and are sent out shot gun style without attention to the advertised job.
  1. Structure your job search.  Resolve to regularly search the most relevant job sites, for example, three mornings per week.  Then devote several afternoons to develop custom cover letters.
  1. Be prepared to look outside the box and think differently than the crowd.  Consider working in the Far North, overseas, or in overlooked corners of your home community.
  1. Strive for a daily routine. This should include exercise, less sugar and caffeine, and a regular sleep schedule that allows you to be available and alert during working hours.
 
In this economy, there are no more rockets waiting to launch you into a trajectory of success. Attaining escape velocity is something you need to reach gradually.  With time and persistence, you can pick up speed.
 

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