Job Seekers…Think Before You Shop

An important aspect of job search strategy that’s rarely talked about is what those looking for work can do to ensure there are jobs to apply to in their community to begin with. It’s hard to experience success searching for something if it doesn’t exist, no matter how solid your resume & interview execution may be.

With jobs harder to come by, job seekers must consider how their own spending habits contribute to the availability of work in their community. Most people want to work close to home. Long commutes and relocation aren’t a reasonable option. That being the case, every effort should be made to shop with local providers of goods and services. If local businesses don’t have customers, they don’t have jobs. It’s just that simple.

Most of the arguments people give for skipping over local companies revolve around convenience and price. Ordering something online from some mega-discounter at 10pm may seem convenient and frugal, but what about the inconvenience and expense of having to relocate because there aren’t any jobs nearby?

Others feel drawn to the bells and whistles franchises and chains have the resources to provide. Let’s face it, you aren’t going to get the likes of a Happy Meal from most locally owned restaurants. They don’t typically have easy access to cheap toys from China and can’t afford the usage fees for luring in kids with movie characters. The case is made that those chains are creating jobs for all of those Happy Meal handlers, but the economic benefit to the community is low compared to what a local restaurant contributes. Chains provide mostly entry to mid-level management positions. Executives with their big paychecks live, are taxed and spend their money in other communities.  A fraction of the chain’s revenue is subject to local taxes, with much of the revenue recognized and taxed where the headquarters is located. Add to that, local restaurants are much more likely to use web designers, insurance providers, law firms, ad agencies, etc., in their home community. Can you see the benefit in supporting businesses more likely to help other businesses in your community grow? I used restaurants as an example, but it’s true in all industries.

The small to mid-sized locally owned businesses are suffering right now. They are the backbone of our communities. Just like many job seekers, they have been left out of the recovery currently being enjoyed by Big Business and the ultra wealthy. They need our attention and support if they are to survive. We’ve been told all along hiring from small to mid-sized companies is key to financial recovery in our nation. They are where many hold high hopes for hiring. They can’t live up to that expectation if they don’t have customers, though. All the tax reform in the world won’t do for them what increased business from local consumers can.

I’m not advocating people spend their money with locally owned businesses exclusively. Sometimes what you want or need simply isn’t what a local provider is offering. All I’m suggesting is to put some thought into how you are spending your money and consider how out of balance consumer choices have become. If locally owned businesses are important to job creation in our communities, then everyone has to make a conscious effort to see they thrive.

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