Career Champion: “Linked in…or locked out?”

Sally ChampionLast week we started a new, weekly blog series, “Career Champion”. This week Sally Champion continues to blog about the process of setting up her own business as a writer. She had polio as a child and after years of working nine to five, she is now, having to think differently about how to earn her living. Sally invites your comment and advice. 

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Episode 2: “Linked in…or locked out?”

My last job ended in mid-January and I am now receiving a benefit. I get $259 a week.

I am somewhat immobilised by this sum of money.

Part of me is tempted to take to my bed. I figure moving any part of me is likely to incur expense.

And I do need to rest. I’ve been working full-time for two years.

Still I know the polio. I will accumulate energy again. Slowly, slowly, it will come back until I’ve built-up a reserve again.

Then I need to use that reserve judiciously. I need to work 20 hours a week instead of 40.

In the meantime I must stop my intelligence trying to find ways to live on the amount I get on the benefit.

To conserve my funds I could join others picking up cigarette butts off the street to re-roll, or forever pretend I’m on route somewhere and ask other well-dressed people if they could spare a few dollars for the bus.

These are practical options, but at odds with my present middle class sensibilities.  And I fear if I adopted such activities I may not ever be able to comfortably return to the way most New Zealanders live.

I have developed a mantra. I say, “This is my country. I have the skills to earn my own living and contribute to the welfare of others. I have a belief in my own ability and my worth as a person.”

Hey, I know it’s just self-massage, but it’s a lot cheaper than the real thing and it seems to have a similar tranquillising effect.

Thank God I have a small amount of money in my Kiwi Saver.

When I was working I put my money in there so I couldn’t get it out. Now I am storming the Bastille trying to get my hands on some of it again.

I’ve spent the last week filling out the lengthy financial hardship form. I have done many depressing calculations, and collected much evidence of my own misfortune.

I realise I need some of that money because it will take time for me to find the right work. And, to find it I need to stay connected to the world and not let it drift away.

As well as eating, having somewhere to bunk down, money for electricity, etc, I need stuff like an internet connection and juice in my cell phone. I need a decent haircut, petrol in the car, and a bit of cash so I can ask old colleagues if they want to meet up for a coffee. Then I can ask them, very casually, if they need any help with anything.

I need to be remembered and then thought of again when the work starts.

To find the work I need to keep the lines of communication open.

After all, it’s no good having a presence on Linked in if you then get yourself locked out.

Sally says a friend urged her to start using Linked in and she is finding it a great way to network with colleagues. She’s still keen, however, to hear any suggestions readers might have about other ways she can market her writing services.

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7 thoughts on “Career Champion: “Linked in…or locked out?”

  1. Hi Kaye and Jeanne

    Thanks for your comments.

    Kaye thank you for your marketing suggestions. Very useful for me and I’m really glad you have found work.

    Would it really be thinking differently to approach Sir Bob, Jeanne? I suspect many New Zealanders may have come up with that idea. I haven’t dismissed the possibility, but I need to come up with why he would be remotely interested in me, or more importantly, my skills. Bit more research needs to be done there I think.

  2. Hi sally

    I can empathise. I’m on an invalids benefit but started on a sickness benefit four years ago when I became too ill to support myself (I have ME, often and misleadingly called chronic fatigue syndrome). It was a shock to go from $60,000 to $12,000 in one year! I had a year off to try and recover, then, when that didn’t work, sent out emails to everyone I knew listing my skills and experience and asking if they knew of any work. I also asked them to forward my email to others. I got some work and it made a difference, financially and morally. I then read up on resumes and did one, something shorter and punchier than my lengthy cv. It took months but was worth the effort. Again I sent it out to everyone i knew and asked them to forward it. That’s how I got my current job writing articles for a website, which I love. I also spent some time running an evening class on writing. While it’s still a challenge to manage on a low income, even with part-time work, I love working and have changed to a career I enjoy much more than my previous one, something I’d been trying to do for years. I call it a career despite only working a few hours a week, because that’s what it is. I never used linked up becos I find all those kind of networky things frustrating and annoying. But I found that keeping in touch with my networks and meeting new people to add to them worked just as well. Also, it pays to go back to people a second time as sometimes new opportunities come up. That’s how I got my current job. Good luck! And if you have a budget advisory service near you they can be very good, and help you access other cheap or free resources. Best place to find a good one is where lots of low income people live – Wellington was terrible!

  3. Hi Richard

    Thanks for the comment. Little bit of misunderstanding here I think. I’m not fundraising, I’m at the very beginning stage of setting up my own business. If you think Sir Bob might be interested in helping me do that perhaps you could send him a link to this blog.

  4. Sally I fear that butt ends and bus faires may be pitching the fund raising goals a bit low. Don’t rob the Piggy Bank either. Now I hear that Sir Bob Jones has stopped managing his boxer. So he will be looking for a new fighter. Someone he can sponsor. Why don’t you beat on his door. You are a fighter just in a different ring. I have met him and I know he doesn’t take fools kindly and he likes a battler. You are no fool and definately a battler. If he likes you I bet he will help you. He’s a writer too as is his brother.

  5. Pingback: Career Champion: “The job…or your life!” | I Think Differently

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