When you hear all of the negative affects the great recession has had on the economy the one that seems to stand out the most, but receives the least attention, is the high unemployment rate among African-American men. There have been many studies done to track how the recession has affected all major ethnic groups and all seem to show that black men have suffered the most.
To add insult to injury many barriers have been put up that seem to further limit black men’s chances to enter the workforce. From credit checks to online job listings telling the unemployed not to apply, it’s starting to feel like a catch-22 when you try to give hope to this struggling population. One thing that is important to keep in mind is that throughout history black men have always been dealt a bad hand and despite that we have always risen above it. It’s too early to quit and with black men being the backbone of the African-American community there has to be some practical ways to gain back control. The following are 10 ways black men can overcome the recession.
1) Stay Positive — It is a fact that when we concentrate too much on the negative aspect of a problem the problem seems to prolong itself. Regardless of the situation it is important to stay positive and concentrate on the solution. According to a Georgia Institute of Technology study, people tend to have more success during a downtime if they are optimistic and view their current situation as an opportunity to improve themselves and their position in life. Instead of worrying about things that are out of your control, keep your focus on the things that you can change to better your situation. Last month 244,000 new jobs were added to the economy, do the necessary due diligence to figure out how you can obtain just one!
2) Get Your Financial Life in Order — Just because things aren’t going as well as you may like them to, doesn’t mean that you should let things get out of control. It is imperative that you create a budget and reduce your debt. Get rid of any unnecessary expenses and know the difference between your needs and your wants. Don’t give permanent energy to temporary things. Even if you have to make certain sacrifices you shouldn’t let that bring you down; just understand that it is a small price to pay to get your life back in order.
3) Improve Professional development and soft skills — This is the opportune time to concentrate on self-development. In a world that is becoming more and more transparent it is important that the first impression of you speaks volume. According to a University of South Carolina study, 80 percent of communication is non-verbal. People will judge you based on your posture, demeanor, whether or not you make eye contact, etc; How you enter a room, the tone of your voice and how confident you seem are all important as well.
This doesn’t mean that what you say is of no consequence so it is imperative that you continue to develop on your verbal communication skills as well. As the world continues to become more diverse it is incumbent upon you to understand different cultures and how to communicate with them effectively. Know how to assess your audience; know what to say, when to say it and how to say it. It is no secret that people do business with people they like so it is important that you seem approachable, trustworthy and personable.
4) Attend Job Training Programs — According to an article from the New York Times series “The New Poor,” hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers are signing up for federally-funded job training programs but still finding themselves without a job after they are completed. While this may not be the news unemployed people are looking forward to hearing, the fact still remains that as you increase your knowledge you also increase your chances of finding employment. Knowledge is the one thing that once received can never be taken away from you, so use every opportunity to learn as much as you can. 5) Repair Your Credit — Credit has always been a gift or a curse depending on how you use it. In today’s world credit is used more often in making job placement decisions than before. The worst thing you want to happen is that you qualify for a position but because of a bad credit rating you are looked over. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com to obtain a free copy of your credit report and begin the process of repairing your credit. First look for items that may not belong there and dispute those with the credit reporting agencies. Second, you should contact your creditors to inform them of your current situation. You’ll be surprised that most of them may be willing to work with you on a plan that can fit your budget.
6) Look into Non-Traditional Industries — As stated earlier 244,000 jobs where added this month and despite the overall job loss there are certain industries that are experiencing growth; this includes health care, education, and social services. Traditionally, women dominate these industries but with the right training this can become a viable option for black men looking to get back into the workforce.
7) Be Unconventional — Understand that with high unemployment comes hundred of thousands of people competing for the same jobs. Recruiters look at resume after resume after resume and before long all of them begin to start looking the same. Make sure that you allow yourself to stand out. This may mean adding professional achievements to your resume, or including personal accomplishments that show who you really are as person. The point is that sometimes doing things in an unconventional way can gain you the right attention needed to be given an opportunity.
8) Increase your network — It is always said that your network equals your net worth. Make sure you are attending many networking events and increasing your sphere of influences. Also be mindful of who you can connect with during non-traditional work activities including church, volunteering, civic activities, basketball on the weekend, etc; I can’t stress this enough… People like to do business with those they like, so the guy you are shooting hoops with may very well be a hiring manager at a major corporation
9) Start your own business — Studies have shown that many successful businesses have been started during a recession and continue to do well way after. Burger King, FedEx, Microsoft, CNN, and MTV are all examples of such companies. In today’s Internet world where you have access to hundreds of millions of people starting a business is easier than ever before. The key is to find something you love doing then figuring out how you can make money from it. Begin by putting a business plan together and determining whom your target audience will be. Once you have established that your audience is large enough begin to put your plan in motion and take back control of your financial freedom.
10) Create Passive Income — Whether in a recession or not, one of the keys to financial freedom is to create passive income and change your relationship with money. Most of us now have to physically be present in order make money so the dollar, in essence is in control. Our goal should be to purchase assets and create multiple streams of income therefore having money work for us. There are misconceptions that you need a lot of money in order to make your money work for you but the truth is that passive income comes in many forms. From real estate to intellectual property to network marketing, there are a vast majority of options that can create a decent flow of passive income.
A recession can be the ending point or the starting point; The Choice is ours and we have no excuse! We can either sit back and allow outside forces to stop us from living the life we deserve or we can take back control and say, “This is my time!!” As a black man the game will never be equal but if we continue to concentrate on the inequalities instead of on what we have control of, we will continue to lose the game before it has even started. Those who continue to make excuses will continue to be left behind with no chance of ever catching up. If you learned anything from this recent experience it should be to embrace the recession! Love it and use it as a way to fully maximize your potential!! Stop allowing your emotions, the media, and lack of knowledge stop you from living that dream! It is impossible to beat someone who never gives up.
Ash’Cash is a Business Consultant, Motivational Speaker, Financial Expert and the author of Mind Right, Money Right: 10 Laws of Financial Freedom. For more information, please visit his website, www.iamashcash.com.