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Living on Less: Tory Johnson's Advice

June 19, 2009

The recession has changed the lifestyle of the Bell family of Houston, Texas. Latavious Bell, a computer engineer, has been out of work for two months and the family's household income is down 75 percent.

Tory Johnson's Advice for the Bells

Set a Deadline:

You better start sweating being out of work. If you don't, six weeks turns into six months before you know it. Set a firm deadline, and it's a deadline of two weeks from now. Two weeks from now, you are either going to have made more progress toward finding the job that you really want or you are going to have to come up with a Plan B. What kind of jobs are you willing to go after that are just going to generate some money? What are the survival jobs that you are willing to pursue? And within the next two weeks, that has to be put down on paper.

Don't Just Apply Online:

You're putting your resume on the big job and hoping that somebody is going to find you. You might be a fabulous candidate, but you are going to be lost in that big black hole. Simply applying online is not enough. Someone's not necessarily going to find that resume online, so lessen your reliance on the Internet and emphasize your reliance on direct conversation with people. Apply for 20 jobs a day.

Talk to Somebody Every Day:

In addition to applying for 20 jobs a day, you need to make five phone calls. Follow up on those resumes to put a name to the place that you are applying to.

Spend Most of Your Day Looking for a Job:

Set a certain amount of time you spend looking for a job, and it really has to be the bulk of your day. Finding a job is your full-time job right now. You can't have a lag time of someone asking for your resume yesterday and getting it today. It's got to be instant. You have to be constantly checking your e-mail. You have to be working the phones.

Make Yourself Accountable:

It's important to have some accountability. You might join a job club and be accountable to people whom you meet with once a week to be able to exchange leads and talk about strategies. There has to be some kind of accountability on a daily and weekly basis, like creating a job journal, in which every day you write down all of the places you applied to so you can follow up. In this journal, you can track all of the people that you talked to, what they said and when you need to follow up.

Tory Johnson's Advice for the Wiggins

Brad and Anita Wiggins, of Santa Clara, Calif., were almost $1,700 a month over budget. Brad Wiggins, 53, an attorney, father of seven and grandfather of two, has taken a substantial income hit -- 62 percent.

You Might Not Get Your Dream Job:

A situation like this is time sensitive. You don't have the luxury of waiting for or pursuing that dream position. You're going to have to be flexible and willing to acknowledge that your dream job might not happen. It doesn't mean giving up on it, it means making it Plan B. Plan A is to get you a job and get you generating some income.

Create a Resume:

It's not as difficult or overwhelming as it seems. Write down all of your specific skills and passions. Think about these questions: What do you know how to do and what do you love to do? What positions have you had? Think about volunteer opportunities and even the stuff that you do in your daily routine. Put all of this down on paper.

Make A List of Your Dream Employers:

You tell me that there are places that you love to shop and companies that you really admire, so pay attention to whether those places have jobs available. Check to see if they're hiring right now. Just put down all those dream employers, or even dream individuals, that you'd love to work for on a piece of paper.

Make a List of 50 People to Call:

Make a list of 50 people who you could call about your job search. These aren't your best friends, but these are people who you know in your community. They are people from church, your friends, your family, the parents of your kids' friends. Think broadly. Maybe you haven't talked to them in a while, but you certainly shouldn't be shy about reconnecting.

Take a Deep Breath:

I know this is overwhelming when it's coming at you all at once, especially when there is that financial necessity and that big pressure to find something right now. But when you break these things down in small steps, it really is manageable. And anytime you're feeling overwhelmed, ask yourself, now what is it that I am going to allow to guide me? Will it be fear? Or faith? Is it going to be fear that nobody's hiring, I have nothing to offer, the economy's dismal, this is never going to work? And those kind of thoughts paralyze you.

Have faith in yourself, faith in your abilities, faith in the knowledge that you have something really valuable to offer to people. Be proud that you're willing to take the necessary steps. Believe that life is on your side and good things are going to happen.