Last month, more than 165,500 people were laid off in the United States, according to a report released last week by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Many of those job losses were part of mass layoffs; some 391 mass layoff events were reported in the manufacturing sector alone. A look at national headlines shows that layoffs continue and aren’t expected to slow down anytime soon.
If you are (or suspect you might become) one of the unlucky laid-off American workers, it might be a good time to consider diversifying your income sources. In her book, One Person/Multiple Careers, Marci Alboher popularized the term “slasher” for those who can’t answer the question “What do you do?” with a single word or phrase. For the book, she interviewed hundreds of people pursuing multiple careers simultaneously, from lawyer/chefs to surgeon/playwrights and mom/CEOs, and found that many of today’s most fulfilling lives are the ones filled with slashes.
While some people prefer “slashing” to maintain control of their own work lives and keep things interesting, others resort to working in various jobs out of necessity. Even if slashing isn’t your first choice for a career, now might be a good time to open your mind to the possibilities. Here are five ideas to help you start the process of finding your own potential slash career:
1. Write thank you notes. When dealing with a layoff, gratitude may not come naturally. But Alboher says it’s a good time to send handwritten thank you notes to the people who have helped you in your career thus far. You never know; touching base with supportive people from your past may spark ideas of your own or inspire them to call you up with a new opportunity.
2. Mine your passions. Have you always dreamed of being a chef? Doing stand-up comedy? Owning a bookstore? If you have a nagging dream that just won’t go away, now is a good time to pursue it. Even if you don’t launch a full-time business, consider taking a part-time position that would get you closer to your ultimate goal. When a new job opportunity arises, you’ll be a slasher.
3. Take a course. Money may be tight, but you have lots of time on your hands. Why not splurge for a community college class on photography, cooking, writing, speaking, music or some other topic in which you’re interested? Get to know your instructor and brainstorm ideas to make money with your new skill. Maybe you could bake and sell cakes for children’s birthday parties, perform at a neighborhood club, or sell your photos on a stock photography website.
4. Leave your job on good terms. If you suspect you may be laid off, don’t leave in a huff. Instead, “continue to do good work, and touch base with those in the senior ranks who may be able to give you some insights about what is going on,” writes Alboher in the New York Times. Making positive connections with superiors may keep you on their minds if they ever need a consultant with your skill set.
5. Fulfill a need. Is there a product or service you wish you could purchase but isn’t available? Maybe you want organic dog food you can afford, or an easy way to change the oil in your car on your own. If so, chances are other people share your desire for this product or service. So why not figure out how to make or provide it, and you’ve got yourself a side business.