Marketwired Blog

Small Spaces: the not-so-obvious choice

By Heidi Staseson


So you’ve graduated from college or university. You’re officially a social worker—or an agricultural scientist—or a graphic designer.


You’ve proven your ability to complete something much greater than the highest levels of Call of Duty or Mario Kart. You can hold your own in a lager-fueled discussion on the subject and you’ve got the letters behind your name to prove it.


You’ve also got a whack-load of debt and can’t find a related job to speak of in your chosen field.


This is the sad reality facing numerous college graduates throughout the United States—a trend being mimicked in Canada.


Fort Myers, Florida-based author, former high-tech marketing executive and mom, Diana Wilcox Layman, is so intrigued by the situation she’s writing a book about it.


Entitled Screw the Resumé, the not-as-yet-published book is co-authored by Small Business Professor Bruce Freeman.


Instead of feeling bummed by Corporate America’s slamming of doors and rote rejection notes filling up their inboxes, the authors, in less-colloquially harsh terms, are advising you, the recent and skilled matriculate, to say “suck it,” rise above the unemployment malaise and channel your inner entrepreneur.


Choose your own adventure


You don’t necessarily think of a particular kind of business as giving you a leg up in your wanted career—but it can be, says Layman. “What we’re trying to say is becoming an entrepreneur [first] is a way to a path you might not have considered in finding a career job—or developing an alternate career that you’re interested in.”


No, they’re not telling you to hearken back to that lemonade stand you and your best friend in grade two set up at the ‘U’ end of your cul-de-sac. What the authors are suggesting is actually quite simple: find a field unrelated to your chosen career but one that once you’ve mastered delivering the business behind entrepreneurially—eventually, at a later time, you’ll be primed to: a) go out and nab that originally chosen career job; or b) stay put and grow your start-up sight unseen.


Say your degree’s in social work. Instead of wasting your mental energy firing off applications to no avail for a job as a social worker, there are actually a slew of jobs you could feasibly do, right now, by virtue of the skills you’ve picked up with your degree.


Set up your own credit counseling business, as an example.


Really, think about it. In this debt-laden economy, who doesn’t need to hear more lyrical about churning credit cards into blocks of ice or cutting back on that daily no-foam, half-sweet, pumpkin-spice latte?


Face it, there’re a ton of ads on TV these days showcasing dumbed-down and jaunty jingles about credit scores and the like. Obviously this is trending stuff. You don’t have to be a math whiz to succeed as a credit counsellor; you already know what’s involved in providing social services to a range of socio-economic levels.


So say the authors: You’re a counselor, so counsel!


“Do you really think about credit counseling as a business you want to start if you want to be a social worker? Not really…” says Layman, “…But if [later on] you interview for a social worker job and are [then] able to say ‘I’ve counseled people on how to handle their credit; I’ve dealt with people who are down on their luck and have a great deal of difficulty in dealing with their lives…and I also understand keeping confidentiality as I have 50 clients and I have to be very circumspect in how I deal with them…’


“All of these things are skills that you are using to become more valuable in an interview situation with a social services organization,” she explains.


The same type of entrepreneurial scenario can be applied to a degree in architecture and design, she adds. You could become a cartoonist, etiquette adviser, garage sale coordinator, graphologist, makeup artist, personal shopper, tailor, party planner or house painter.


Same goes for a degree in agriculture. How about trying your hat at: farm sitting, lawn care, handyman work, horse-training, plant- or auto maintenance,  grant or proposal writing, tree servicing or taxidermist work?


“These are all examples of small businesses a graduate in [architecture, design or agricultural science] could potentially start up,” Layman notes, adding she’s grouped approximately 250 entrepreneurial-type jobs organized by college major for a chapter in her book. Further, they’re jobs she says would cost anywhere between US $2,000 and $5,000 to start up.


While not directly related to your degree, Layman points out there are enough parallels and transferable skills that you might as well dust away your shame, hang up a shingle, bulk up that paper-thin wallet and pay off some of that current debt—while affording yourself some semblance of a life, even if some of it’s happening in your parent’s garage.


Pretty much any entrepreneurial start-up gives you a leg up in any future interview situation, says Layman. “It gives you something to talk about; it’s something that differentiates you from the rest of the crowd.”


It also gives you an introduction to the world of business and the people that inhabit it. “You get to know the people you’re dealing with and it’s a lot easier to get a job when you know people who will recommend you,” Layman says, referring to the many new customers and suppliers you’ll be working with in your start-up.


You’re getting “entré into the business community,” she remarks, where now you can do things like join the Chamber of Commerce to meet other business people and even potential employers. Also, she adds, when you hear about people who have interesting job openings “you’re not just sitting at home on your parents’ couch waiting for your resume to come through on the internet–you’re out there doing it every day.”


Your breakout into the start-up world is also demonstrative of the vow of maturity, decisiveness and persistence you’ve taken, explains Layman—“the whole host of positive attributes that line up behind an entrepreneur.”


And that, she says, makes you more valuable to anybody, in any career position, anywhere.


Basically, you’re taking action here and now to acquire some business smarts, a little extra cash and you’re positioning yourself to launch as a social worker, or whatever the case may be, in a different time and space—one where you’ll be better-equipped financially along with possessing the business wherewithal to get the job more easily and without being crippled by debt—notwithstanding a decent salary.


And who knows? Maybe you’ll discover your start-up’s more fulfilling and lucrative than a career in counseling!


On the other hand, there’s always McDonald’s or Wal-Mart.

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51 Comments on Small Spaces: the not-so-obvious choice

Shaikh said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Yeah, I remember my SCSU days being one huge 5-year blur of great times, awesmoe friends, and a huge learning experience both in and out of the classrooms.

Gary Woonteiler said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Great to see positive, out-of-the-box thinking. The world isn't ending (we hope), and there will always be a place for hard-working, creative entrepreneurs. The stars are aligned for a book like this.

Taahir L said : Guest Report 5 years ago

As a college student one of the most stressful times are when you're applying for internships and jobs. So much time is spent on the resume and ring in top schools and programs. Most people think that they will work first for a few years then try to start up your own business. This book would be great, it's a nice perspective that most college kids will find useful.

Nick Roberto said : Guest Report 5 years ago

As a graduating senior, i see myself and everyone around me worrying about where to find a job after graduation. This article does provide a way for students who are graduating to make a career for themselves if the job search doesn't go as planned.

Sam Boudreau said : Guest Report 5 years ago

It is a great idea. It is refreshing to hear an idea that is different from just sending out resumes to one specific field or job. Everyone always says how there is only one way to start a career, but there are other options as well

Maureen Chase said : Guest Report 5 years ago

SCREW THE RESUME is an essential book for recent colege graduates with massive college loans and for parents who have paid $150,000 to $200,000 for their children's education. Diana and Bruce get creative. If there are no social worker jobs out there, think about the skills you have aquired with that degree. Counseling is one. How about setting up a credit counseling business? What is really important, and one cannot lose sight of it while working at the credit counseling business is, "choosing your own adventure." Dream big. Make your career dreams come true. Use your transferable skills to take you to the next step toward your ultimate goal. Take Diana and Bruce's advice and you will succeed.

Scott Buchanan said : Guest Report 5 years ago

The problem is simply the economy. One profession I didn't see in the article was a small time investor. Just like with any business you have to spend money to make money. I for one have been moderately successful in small investments especially ones with dividends just by reading books on investing. Once the market booms again us college students will still be in a hole for years to come due to all of the frustrated job seekers that will re enter the market again with more experience than college graduates and sometimes the same degree. I think the best thing we can take away from this article is to set yourself apart, follow the road less traveled. Research, knowledge, and above all innovation will be the key to success for new entrepreneurs. My sister entered the market out of college and scored a job right away because of what set her apart from other applicants. My father now seeks to start his own business after recieving a cut in pay at the school he teaches. It's all about what works best for the individual and a new path is certainly a good option.

Ross Talbert said : Guest Report 5 years ago

The part when she states on if you have a degree in a certain area such as social work. You can go into another field around the same area as social work. But she said to go into business for yourself. This approach I thought was really interesting I never thought I could go into a almost different field then the one I got my degree for.

Catherine Riechers said : Guest Report 5 years ago

As a college student, everyone's goal at the end of four years is to get a job. When trying to get a job, it's more likely that a Harvard student would get a job before someone that went to a county college. "Screw the Resume" gives college students another view on how to get a job. Yes, it is possible to get a job, but it's nice to know there are other routes one can take. I would find this book extremely helpful!

Dan long said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This is a great article and it can really help anyone with creating job opportunities for themselves and others.

Marc Zolchonock said : Guest Report 5 years ago

They show that doing job research in specific degree fields is important to understand the opportunity that the skills provide. Using your skills in your advantage can open up more jobs for you.

Scott Kim said : Guest Report 5 years ago

As a senior graduating next spring, I am definitely one of those college students worried about where I am going to find employment. This book sounds like it will give great insight into another path that college graduates can take.

Chris C said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Cannot wait for this book to come out. In todays age it is very hard to find a job after all the money you spend and the amount of knowledge you've obtained. That being said I agree with this article, people should try to do their own thing rather then sit back and wait for things to happen. In my past working for the public works company in my town, I realized that it wasn't for me nor was working for my father. Several years later I work for an Italian Deli and the door was opened, shortly after college and some more knowledge in the food business I will open my own Deli.

Vanessa Santos said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This sounds like it will be a terrific book. Being a college student myself, I am already nervous for the job search ahead. Not one of my friends who has graduated college yet has found a job. This book will give some great options for college grads.

John DIckinson said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Bruce . . . I'd aim higher . . . repackaging your skill set is an opportunity overlooked by just about everyone, but I can tell you that it's worked for me. You still need a resume of some sort, but it's a question of spin-doctoring the thing to make it work in a field 20-50 degrees to the left of right of your centerpoint. In my case, I migrated from being a world-class magazine editor to a web producer, then on to an analyst, and moved further into marketing. Today, I'm a "Communications expert" with the skill set to prove it and a track record that spins up real nice into that space. So, I don't think you need to focus on just the young and screwed . . . there are plenty who are middle age and screwed who just can't get out of their own way. Give them a tug . . . they'll find their way. Also, why look for a publisher? Get a Mac and some free software and publish an iBook . . .

Keith L said : Guest Report 5 years ago

The story behind “Screw the Resume” makes great sense, especially in today's troubled economy. Being beholden to others to launch and manage your career is a risky way to start. Getting out there and trying your hand at business you create and run, provided you have the money, network connections and perseverance to do it (not necessarily in that order) is superb advice. In my opinion, becoming an entrepreneur at any age is a resume enhancer which companies and investors admire. Perhaps the book would be better titled "Jump-Start Your Resume" since the skills you will learn running a business on your own, or in conjunction with others, will last and benefit you over your entire lifetime and, if done well, may lead to other resume building opportunities!

M Haviland said : Guest Report 5 years ago

I think Bruce and Diana are getting to an essential point here about the value of your skills and knowledge transcending your major. When I graduated with Honors and my Journalism degree, there was still such a thing as a career path. Now there is no path, and the seafaring route to a new career is full of perils and rocky shoals. If you are a recent candidate or job graduate, one of the best things you can do is build a compelling narrative of who you are, how you can make a difference by adding value to your potential employer and your ability to collaborate with others.

phil trupp said : Guest Report 5 years ago

The point of the book appears to be honing a set of transferable skills. It's not a new idea, but it's certainly an essential means of creating and moving ahead in one's career. Today's economy makes it necessary to be flexible, shape-shifting and entrepreneurial; even if you have a job, it's best to think over the horizon. As for becoming indispensable--forget it. There is always someone else out there with equal or greater abilities. Create your own vision, make it deeply personal, and move heaven and earth to make it real. I truly believe you get exactly what you wish for, and the trick is being certain the wish is what you truly want.

Laney Liner said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Heidi, Thank you for giving us a glimpse of Bruce Freeman and Diane Wilcox Layman's upcoming book: Screw the Resume: Open Your Own Door to Success. I believe their book will become the ultimate resource tool for all job- seekers. It is really about being different and while many fear change, change is what fuels innovation, drive and productivity. Once individuals become more comfortable with the idea, they will begin to see the wonderful impacts, even little tweaks can make in their daily business life and perhaps their personal life (e.g., maybe by having a little more time to do the things they want to do). Thanks for sharing Heidi. Best, Laney Liner

Joseph L. Rosenberg CPA said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Why wait until after college to develop a broader perspective? Choose internships and college jobs with an eye toward obtaining a diverse skill set. And consider starting a business in college, as my son did. Could be the basis for another book, or at least a chapter or two in this one.

Paige said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This is a great book, especially for college graduates who are looking for jobs. Many college grads I know are ready to give up with their job search because they are so frustrated. Some are concerned about how their resume isn't good enough. This is a great book for those who spend too much time concentrating on how their resume looks. Experience is key. So is showing enthusiasm and just getting that entry level job to get yourself into the real world.

Deborah said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Sounds like a terrific book, offering really valuable advice. My daughter graduated last May with a degree in Women's & Gender Studies. Happily, she is employed, although not in her field. This book provides some great options for her to explore as she waits more fulfilling work in her field to develop. I'm forwarding it to her!

Bruce said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Careers do not always go as planned. this can be a case for becoming an entrepreneur by necessity.

Bruce said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Your career does not always go the way you want it to. Sometimes people become entrepreneurs by necessity.

Anthony Pampalone said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This is a great article, and think the book "Screw The Resume" will open many individual's eyes. I know a lot of college graduates that are still looking for a job, and have a huge amount of debt to take care of. I can definitely relate.

ray ziegler said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Anyone with some skills can bid for many types of work at so you can quickly be in a business and gain work experience. Ray

Rebecca said : Guest Report 5 years ago

For a lot of us the problem is that our degrees tell us what we 'need' to become when we graduate, and those types of opportunities are few right now. By using skills from our degrees that might not necessarily entail what we planned, we can find fits for ourselves in this economy. Sounds like a helpful book!

WALTER LeVINE said : Guest Report 5 years ago

As the parent of 2 "underemployed" honor-student college graduates, who could have used this useful information, Diana and Bruce are right on target and timely in their insights and suggestions. Well worth reading and their guidence may prove to be highly rewarding also.

Shellie Roth said : Guest Report 5 years ago

I have always counseled, to those in my employ and to those I mentor and teach, that curiosity and flexibility are keys to surviving change. Those two factors are also keys to success in entrepreneurship. Today's students need to be encouraged to think beyond their direct leanings toward creatively applying skills toward unmet needs.

Michael Becce said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Brilliant! The thing I like most about this approach and the graduates that take it is that it causes them to think differently. When you are an entrepreneur you think about problem solving, differentiating yourself (and your services) and you become a more creative thinker. As the boomers leave their roles, this generation of thinkers will be the ones that evolve their industries. They aren't set in their ways and have the ability to create more effective solutions with the technology and culture around them. I will read this, and I'll make my 3 teenage boys do the same.

Tim Awojobi said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Wow, "Screw the Resume," embarks the true facts behind the lives of an average college student. The embarkment and mission of finding a job after graduation is scary and also challenging for any student or parent of a recent grad. Too many of you college grads or continuing students out there, don't feel threatened or abandoned. Hope is still out there. This is amazing Bruce!

Laura S said : Guest Report 5 years ago

"Screw the Resume" will be a great resource for recent college grads--even a great graduation gift! It promotes outside-the-box thinking about different avenues to explore.

Eva Rosenberg, EA - Your TaxMama said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Bruce and Diana are absolutely right! And by creating a job or business opportunity outside your specific major, you can establish a solid reputation and working skills without earning peanuts at the bottom, entry-level spots of your chosen career. You can transition back into your career with the status you carry over. Incidentally, when I got out of college, I started making cold calls to companies from the yellow pages. And some of the jobs I got offered were FABULOUS! One firm that hired me as a freelancer introduced me to contacts and positions with the local millionaires and leaders in the community. From cold calls... Read the book for more ideas.

Dan Janal said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Screw the job. Start your own business. Be your own boss. Make your own way.

bruce freeman said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Allison - way to go! Good luck on the turoring service. You get it. A little story...I got a D in my first college writing course. I thought the professor was an SOB (Sweet Old Boy). 35 years later, I won a journalist of the year award from the SBA and the year after co-authored a book, Birthing the Elephant (Random House). Unfortunately, Professor Vasilew died 2 years ago at age 89, but before he did we became good friends as we were reintroduced by the Binghamton University alumni director. Professor Vasilew's last email to me was in my opinion, his legacy...."perseverence can overcome almost any obstacle". BTW, I have MS. I run my business, teach at two universities, write my column each week and as you can see, I am working on a second book.

Jack Gottschalk said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Terrific! At last, a book that will provide some real world guidance to thousands of college graduates who increasingly feel abandoned. The book will build confidence and hope.

Caroline Egnatuk said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This book sounds really informative and can boost confidence in many people when figuring out what jobs they are capable of doing. If you have the skills to perform a job which you don't have a degree in, then it shouldn't matter and you should be able to obtain that job.

Steve T said : Guest Report 5 years ago

very very interesting, as a senior in college I will soon be looking to find my first career job but with jobs being so difficult to come across being an entrepreneur is good alternative. However the concept of seeking alternative fields to enter into is such a simple idea but so beneficial. I had not really thought about all my options and looking into different fields really helps one get a better view of their potential opportunities.

Mark Parisi said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This is a great article to help us (students graduating college), be creative in finding or creating jobs in our perticular field. Definitely will help me open my mind when the job search begins!

Hughnique said : Guest Report 5 years ago

love the title "Screw the Resume" cant wait to read the book in its entirety! So far from reading the article the content seems fit for this era especially one where so many young adults are going to be graduating with so much debt. I additionally like where the book will educate young people on how being an entrepreneur can help your future big time and in a positive way. Lastly I like how it promotes working in a field that your passionate about!!

Evan Giordano said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This is very real-world and current, especially for students like myself. The job market is still in a tough place for graduates coming out of school, and this is a very interesting take on a "choose your own adventure" option instead of trying to track down an existing position within an industry you are interested in.

Hilary said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Great idea for a book especially in this economy. You must be able to reinvent yourself and apply your skills to different fields.

Mark Viggiano said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Sounds exciting! As someone who is graduating college this year, in a very questionable job market, this looks like a resource to gain some money even if I don't get a job right away. Starting to work for yourself is a very possible issue that most will soon face so this should defiantly help.

Dan Higgins said : Guest Report 5 years ago

The job search is something every college student is consistently thinking about. These ideas are certainly something to consider and has tons of wise information. The ideas importantly explain that although your studies may not directly coincide with a position, the skills that you have developed certainly can help you obtain the position that you want. Well written.

Joseph Kurche said : Guest Report 5 years ago

"Screw the Resume" addresses the issue of many young college graduates not being able to find a job. I highly anticipate the book as I believe it will offer invaluable information on a career path not often taken.

Samantha Foo said : Guest Report 5 years ago

This is a great idea to keep in mind if I do not find a job after graduating. I think that if you are really passionate about something, and are motivated to succeed, you can start up your own business without sending out your resumes.

Jordan said : Guest Report 5 years ago

As a college senior, this a great article to read because it gives soon to be graduates some ideas to be able to find a job after graduation, even if it isn't what you intend to be, but it may be able to help get them to their goal and earn some money rather than sit around and do nothing.

Jennifer Pettigrew said : Guest Report 5 years ago

The authors are opening the doors for recent college graduates. I like the idea of the ability to get into a job immediately even though it may not be in your major's field.

Peter Weedfald said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Wow and just great... Screw The Resume sounds tremendous and highly valuable... Love the smart directional backbone posture to channel your inner entrepreneur to build a viable future. Really well done!

Ira Krawitz said : Guest Report 5 years ago

Diana and Bruce have focused on a critical issue - not only in the job search - but in career planning. Many skills which we acquire academically or through internships or other areas - are applicable in many situations. Their example of the social worker in the article is just one. People tend automatically to focus on narrowing their specific talents, when the approach promoted here - to broaden - is actually the best way to go. This book would be a great assist not only to the experienced job hunter but to those seeking a passion which they can follow their entire lives.

Kevin Bonder said : Guest Report 5 years ago

I guess that is the key to anyone's job search. making yourself indispensable. Make it impossible for an employer to say "no" and also impossible for them to fire you.

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