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President Grover Cleveland

What If You’re Unemployed on Labor Day?


Labor Day was established in 1887 by President Grover Cleveland to celebrate the American worker. No doubt about it: Labor Day is showing its age. The holiday is no longer about labor unions whose members pushed for recognition. Parades, once a common sight in cities and towns with empowered workers marching to demonstrate their solidarity, are virtually nonexistent. And although we’ve had an encouraging job report recently (see my earlier story) many people are still unemployed or underemployed and have little to celebrate today.

Here’s what we need to do, and I mean all of us: take a day off. Yes even if you’re unemployed. Take a day to regenerate the batteries. If you find your mind wandering to employment possibilities as you sit by the pool, think of it as great time to jumpstart your career. Now is the time to be looking for new opportunities with your current company or seeking a new job. In other words it’s time to push forward a bit. This goes for all of us.

Let’s set out a post-Labor Day strategy to give you some ideas on where to start:

Labor Day marks the beginning of school.

So why not head back? These days there are no barriers to learning. Whether you enroll for another degree or merely seek out a course to help you learn new skills, that knowledge will make you more marketable. Also consider teaching as a profession and contact your local schools to learn about substitute teaching opportunities.

JObLabor Day marks the end of summer.

Everyone slows down, especially during the dog days of August, so post-Labor Day is a great time to launch big. Now is the time to gear up by being organized and strategic. Do not waste time on the wrong things, know what you want. And if you’ve put off updating that resume or following up on contacts you made at that spring conference, delay no longer.

Labor Day marks an important sale day for retailers.

If you have an upcoming job interview, update your wardrobe and save money by taking advantage of Labor Day sales. When in doubt go conservative or business professional. A salesperson can help show you what that means in most department stores.

Labor Day marks the end of wearing white.

Fashion rules were meant to be broken and it’s no longer a faux pas to wear white in the fall. But you don’t want to make a mistake when dressing for that important interview or business conference. Do your research ahead of time to make sure you stand out for the right reasons. Use reds as accent pieces, not as your whole palette.

Labor Day marks the beginning of the sports season.

September brings with it tons of sporting events – the World Series, NASCAR, college and football games. And what do all these sports have in common? Teams! It’s no secret that showing you’re a team player for your company can help advance your career. What does this have to do with employment? Go to any sports bar on a Friday and see teams of workers mumbling about work–strike up a conversation and meet at least one new person a week. That’s your fall assignment.

Labor Day often means speeches by corporate leaders.

If you get the shakes when it’s time to stand up before a group, deal with that fear by honing your speaking skills. Toastmasters is one group that can help you go from terrified to terrific. For those of you with more to spend, hire a coach.

Labor Day is the beginning of a new season. With a little thought and effort, the holiday can mark the beginning of a new chapter in your career.

The New American Dreamer CoverJason Veduccio is the author of The New American Dreamer: How to Land That Dream Job in a Nightmare Economy. Click to buy on Amazon.