Navigating the Current Job Market and Empowering Workers

We’re four months into our new pandemic-altered reality, and while businesses straddle the line between reopening and shuttering (again), many Americans are finding their jobs no longer exist. Last week, 1.3 million Americans applied for unemployment insurance for the first time. Self-employed, independent contractors and gig economy workers — a vital and burgeoning contingent of today’s workforce — remain especially hard hit. 

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? It depends on who you ask and how you approach it.

Nearly 13 million Americans are receiving unemployment benefits via the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which aims to help gig economy workers and those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits. PUA recipients make up 41% of the 31.5 million total unemployment benefit recipients nationwide as of June 13, according to recent Labor Department statistics. 

Even with these guardrails in place, not everyone is benefitting.

The racial inequality workforce problem

For Black Americans, long-standing racial inequities have made the financial impact of COVID-19 even more extreme. According to the Pew Research Center, 44% of Black Americans reported that they or someone in their household experienced a job or wage loss due to COVID-19, compared to 38% of white Americans. More than two-thirds of Black adults (73%) said they did not have emergency funds to cover three months of expenses, while just 47% of white adults said the same.

What’s more, an analysis of Labor Department data by the University of California, Santa Cruz found that more than 2 out of 5 Black small businesses and self-employed workers have been forced to shutter during the pandemic — well over twice the rate of white businesses. 

At Steady, we’ve created a platform that helps people find high demand jobs, increase their income and plan for more financially stable futures. We recently opened up an emergency cash grant program as a result of the pandemic, and so far, 46.5% of our applicants have been Black. 

Navigating the new job market and how we’re helping workers

It’s devastating to see American workers hurting and to so clearly witness how racial inequities are compounding that hurt. Steady recognizes how challenging life is right now and we want to serve as an immediate resource for those who need work and/or additional income.

Mint has long supported people in managing and optimizing their finances, so with all of the hardship brought on by COVID-19, it made sense to join forces with Steady to encourage personal financial empowerment for all Americans. On average, Steady members earn more than $4,000 per year in additional income and in response to COVID-19, we’re offering emergency cash grants, telemedicine support and rapid ACH cash deposits.

What will the future hold?

Pre-pandemic, we lived in a world where there were more jobs than job seekers, or at least a healthy 1:1 ratio. Now workers are struggling in a world where there’s maybe 1 job for every 4 job seekers.

Together with Mint, Steady is here to help everyone navigate these difficult times. We’re committed to empowering workers and helping people find jobs that are still in-demand and right for them. To get started and see available work in your area, download the free Steady app, here. 

The post Navigating the Current Job Market and Empowering Workers appeared first on MintLife Blog.


How to Reassess Your Finances After Unexpected Job Loss

Going through life you can always expect the unexpected. It’s common for life to take an immediate and unexpected turn. It could be birth, death, a move, a marriage or a change in income. In all of these cases, it’s important to evaluate your household finances and decide how to best move forward. In the case of an unexpected job loss, here are 5 ways to reassess your finances to put you on your best path forward.

Start (or update) your budget

Hopefully, you already have a budget, but if not, now is the perfect time to create a budget. The word budget has a negative connotation with many people, but it doesn’t have to. A budget is just a tool, and like all tools, can be wielded for good or for bad. Start by tracking your monthly expenses, and compare that to the amount of income that you have coming in. That income could be from any severance you received, unemployment benefits or part-time work. It’s pretty simple to set up a budget in the Mint app and look at where your money is actually going.

Cut unnecessary expenses (be brutal)

The 50/30/20 rule is a popular budgeting rule that says that 50% of your income should go to essentials (needs), 30% to wants, and 20% to savings. The closer you have been getting to following that rule, the fewer changes that you’ll need to make to your budget after an unexpected job loss. If you are in a 2-income household where one member of the household just lost his job, you may find that you can squeeze things to live on only 50% of the income.

Now is the time to look through your recurring expenses and see how you might be able to simplify your finances. Be brutal – depending on how much money you have coming in, you may need to get rid of most or all of your non-essential spending until you have a new job and new income.

Stop saving and tap your emergency fund

Saving for a rainy day is important and having an emergency fund is one of the key principles of being on sound financial footing. Well, guess what – an unexpected job loss IS the rainy day you’ve been saving for! One of the first steps in reassessing your finances after an unexpected job loss is to stop any non-essential emergency or retirement contributions. You can always pick those back up once you’re back on your feet.

You can also stop contributing to your emergency fund. Now is the time to pull FROM the emergency fund if needed. It’s normal in a situation where you have a sudden loss of income to no longer be living below your means. The best thing that you can do in that situation is to minimize your shortfall each month. Calculate how much money you’ll be losing each month that you’re without an income and determine how many months your emergency fund will last you.

Of course, if you were just hit with an unexpected job loss and don’t have an emergency fund available to help tide you over, it does no good to tell you that now. The time to prepare is BEFORE the unexpected happens. So if you’re reading this article and are in a good financial situation, make sure that you are preparing yourself for an unexpected job loss or other financial misfortune.

Know your benefits (and when they expire)

If you’re facing an unexpected job loss, you’re likely eligible for certain benefits. Depending on your employment situation, you may have received a severance package. You’re possibly also eligible for health care through your former employer or a government agency. You’ll want to make sure to claim your unemployment benefits if you’re eligible as well. Take a look through all of these benefits and find out how much they are worth and most importantly, how long they’re good for.

Look for part-time or gig work

There are only two ways to make up a monthly shortfall. Either you can cut spending or you can increase income. Cutting spending is a good first step, but there are only so many gym memberships or iced cappuccinos that you can remove before you start cutting pretty deep. Once you’ve hit that point, you’ll want to concentrate your time and effort into increasing your income.

You’ll want to spend most of your effort into getting a new job in your field of expertise. No amount of part-time work or side hustles is likely to compensate you as well as returning back to full-time employment in your field of study. But in the meantime, here are a few ways to make extra money quickly:

  • Sell extra possessions that you no longer use or need
  • Join the gig economy (Uber, Lyft, Doordash, Airbnb, etc)
  • Focus on a side hustle

Hopefully, these suggestions will help you reassess your finances after an unexpected job loss and help you survive until you can get back on your feet.

The post How to Reassess Your Finances After Unexpected Job Loss appeared first on MintLife Blog.


How to Increase Your Earning Potential

Every year presents new lessons we should incorporate on this life journey, and this one, in particular, is no exception. In a world that is ever-changing one thing that has to remain the same is our ability to pivot when necessary. Whenever life challenges arise, we often make changes and shift out of force rather than free choice. While this logic can be applied to every aspect of our lives it’s an especially crucial concept as it relates to our finances. There’s no need to wait until your employer needs to decrease headcount or reduce work hours to jumpstart your rediscovery process. Make the decision today that no matter what happens within the economy, you are making the strides to guarantee your earning power doesn’t rest in the hands of someone else.

See Average U.S. Salaries

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Set yourself apart and strengthen your skills

Often times, the number one thing you can do before executing plans of any kind is focus on strengthening your skills. Are others able to depend on you?  If you desire to run your own business or be a high-performing, contributing employee – are you reliable? Being able to breakdown complex situations and produce viable solutions, paying special attention to detail, and asking the right questions at the right time are skills that many often have, but have yet to master. Focusing on any skills that may come naturally to you while achieving mastery, in the long run, will absolutely contribute to the opportunities you are afforded over other candidates. It’s not about competition, because what’s for you won’t pass you by. It’s about actively showcasing you are indeed the best candidate with the physical results to prove it.

Seek out new opportunities and expand your skillset

People believe there are only a few ways to bring in additional income – one being a side hustle. This isn’t necessarily the case. Seeking out opportunities within your current or new place of employment can be just what you need to make substantial strides in increasing your earnings as well as visibility. Make yourself familiar with the Human Resources policies for promotions and role transitions. Look into if there are side projects you can add to your workload that can increase your skillset while being introduced to a new audience of people; consider exploring that. Be sure to document the pros and cons of the newly added responsibilities while making sure it aligns with where you ultimately want to be. Don’t shy away from having a conversation with your manager and making your goals known.

Ask for more (and quantify it)

Employers have mid-year and end of year reviews to go over performance goals and ensure the work you’ve done over time aligns with the responsibilities of the team as well as the company. While this is protocol, as an employee you don’t have to wait until this designated time to discuss career goals. Not only does this conversation create awareness between you and your manager – it allows them to understand your desire for more. I’m sure we’ve all had less than desirable bosses, coworkers, and teams. We’ve also been in situations where we know that the work required of us was so much more than the actual amount of money we were taking home. To avoid the unfortunate cycle of being overworked and underpaid that many fall into, have an open and candid conversation with management. Be sure to quantify every task and tie a metric to it if possible. This helps to build your professional story while also making sure your resume stays current for all new opportunities as they arise.

Start a side hustle

When your friends, family, or peers often ask you to complete something and you enjoy doing it; what is that ‘thing’? What talents do you innately have that seem as if it doesn’t require a huge amount of effort? The answers to these questions should birth the idea of your new side hustle. As daunting as it may sound, take the time to loosely create a plan. Remember, this is scalable! Go at the pace that is most comfortable for you and can transition well into your lifestyle. Solicit the help of family and friends while using your larger network to advertise your talent. Social media and word of mouth can go a very long way – use all outlets to promote yourself and your services.

Never underestimate the power of networking

We all have a comfort zone and typically stay within those walls on a regular basis unless probed. However, do you consider the opportunities that could be available to you by adding several new people to your network? Utilize employee resource groups at your place of employment, various professional networks in your local cities, and other organizations that have a virtual platform. Do a quick Google search based on your preferred industry and start the journey of expanding your network. There’s a very familiar phrase we’ve all heard at some point, “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” LinkedIn is a great social media platform to engage with professionals all over the world on various subject matters and topics. Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there and make the connections that could lead you to new opportunities.

Become a lifelong learner

Make a commitment to yourself that no matter what happens, you will always seek knowledge, no matter the method. Explore personal and professional learning opportunities. This may be pursuing an advanced degree to expand opportunities. For others, it can be obtaining a certification within your desired field to land a better position – resulting in a salary increase. If either of those doesn’t sound appealing or fit within your current life circumstances, you can always attend conferences, listen to webinars, podcasts, and so many other cost-effective (or free) learning channels to keep your skills in top shape. This could be listening to an audible book while driving in your car or reading a new article every day related to your industry before getting your day started – learning is limitless!

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5 Ways to Look for a New Job

This post can be found en Español here.

The current coronavirus pandemic has caused a large upheaval across many different areas. In addition to the changes COVID-19 has made in the areas of health and safety (masks, social distancing and quarantines), it has also caused major changes to the economy across all walks to life. The United States has experienced record levels of unemployment, and even many of those who are still employed have experienced disruptions to their unemployment. 

If you are recently unemployed or are looking for new work due to changes in your work situation (being furloughed, having hours reduced or changes in the type or location of your work), there are several different ways that you can look for a new job. In this article, we’ll look through some of the best ways to look for a new job.

Networking with friends, family and former colleagues

There’s a reason the saying “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know” is so popular – it’s quite true. As it has in most industries, the Internet has disrupted the way that recruiters and HR departments source their open job positions. Since most job applications are available at no cost and with the click of a button, the volume of resumes received for each open position is staggering. You truly have to make sure that your resume stands out.

One way to do this is to have a referral from a friend, family member or former colleague. Talk to your circle of influence and see what jobs are available where they work. A referral from someone who already works where you’re looking to hire on is a great first step. In many cases, a referral from an existing employee can help to short-circuit the HR department and get you directly in front of the hiring manager.

Make sure that your Linkedin profile is up-to-date

Going along with the power of networking and referrals is making sure that your Linkedin profile is accurate and current. Linkedin can be more useful in certain professions and in certain areas, so you’ll have to take a look to see how it might work for you. Generally, you’ll find more people and companies active on Linkedin in more white-collar trades. 

Linkedin also has a setting where you can state that you are actively looking for jobs. That setting will bring your Linkedin profile to the attention of recruiters who are looking to hire in your industry. This can be both positive and negative. Most recruiters also cast a wide net, so you may find it to be distracting having to answer calls and emails from recruiters who are hiring for jobs that may be not quite what you’re looking for.

Don’t forget about a solid resume

A traditional (paper) resume is less important than it was 10-20 years ago but still is useful to keep current. Depending on where you’re looking and in what industry, you might find a resume more or less important. The big reason resumes are not nearly as important anymore is that most job applications online are done electronically. So you may fill out an online form rather than uploading a Word document or PDF. Even if you do upload your resume online, it’s likely that it is getting parsed and converted into a different format, so all the time you spent carefully formatting your resume doesn’t tend to matter.

Another great resume tip is to make sure and target your resume and cover letter to the individual company and position you’re applying for. Each job is different, and showing that you took the time to emphasize skills and experience that was directly solicited in the job posting will only help.

Scour the big job boards

All of the traditional job “boards” have also moved online, with big job sites like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder and Linkedin posting millions of jobs per month. With so many jobs posted, it can be challenging to wade through all of them and find ones that make sense for what you’re looking for. Some good advice is to make sure to narrow down your search as much as possible. 

You may be tempted to cast a wide net in the hopes of finding something, but unless you have a ton of time, you may find it more beneficial to focus more narrowly. Most job sites will also let you set up ongoing searches that will immediately alert you if a new job is posted that matches your criteria.

Explore the gig economy

Depending on your household’s financial situation, you may also be looking to pick up some extra income while you’re looking for a new job. Joining the gig economy may make sense as a short-term option while you’re looking for a more stable job. Companies like Uber, Lyft, Doordash or Instacart are generally always hiring people to work through their platforms and offer flexibility that could make it an easier fit on your schedule. 

Most of these companies also offer signup bonuses from $200-$500 to incentivize new people to join with them. Taking advantage of these gigs might be a good way to stabilize your budget while looking for that perfect job.

What to do if they say no

Even in high-demand professions, you’re likely to encounter a pretty significant level of rejection. If you’re not getting rejected a lot, you’re probably not applying to enough places! Unfortunately, many companies or HR departments do not typically let you know if you are rejected. If you don’t get the job, one strategy can be to ask when would a good time to follow up. Their answer to the question can help give you an idea for possible next steps with that company. 

Again, this is where the power of having a friend or former colleague on the inside – most HR departments are historically tight-lipped because they’re afraid of getting sued. But if you have a connection on the inside, you may be able to get more and better information to help guide your path going forward.

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