Outside of my work with private clients, my consulting projects, and my freelance writing and speaking gigs, I organize a MeetUp group of job seekers based in NYC. Through the group, I've met fashion designers, former Wall Street analysts, telecom professionals, journalists, corporate librarians, attorneys, recent college grads, you name it. Working with the group is one of the most interesting experiences I have ever had, and it's been especially meaningful to watch many of our members land great jobs--and quit the group. (I don't mind, that's really what the group is there for--to help people find jobs.)Popcorn_paper_bag

I've made many friends through the MeetUp group. We always manage to share laughs during our meetings, even if the topic of conversation never strays too far from meeting the challenges of the current job market. 

Last week, I found myself feeling sad, after one of my members (I'll call her Mary) mumbled, "Am I ever going to have fun at work again? I just want to have a good time with co-workers again. I want to like what I'm doing again." She's working part-time, her paycheck is thinner than it used to be, and she yet she soldiers on. She's exploring new alternatives for herself--even considering a switch from the fashion industry to pets. (In case you didn't know, the pet industry is booming. The economy has caused angst for designers both in terms of what they present on the catwalk and their own economic survival. Take a look at the challenges currently faced by American Apparel.)

I know how Mary feels. In the current job market, I have talked to many "who can't get what they want," but who continue to pursue the market relentlessly to at least "get what they need." While the market appears to be improving; the job search continues to be a process for most--and not a transaction. Whether or not you decide to enlist the assistance of a coach or job search strategist, the market requires resilience and courage.

This week, I found myself with a non-work craving that was tough to satisfy: I wanted kettle corn but it was too hot to cook on the stove. I also didn't want to buy any microwave popcorn, because I think it's overpriced and I'm wary of popcorn lung. I thought there must be a better way. So I Googled "how to make kettle corn" and "microwave." I came up with 29,000+ search results and many recipes.

I bought paper lunch bags, a bag of popcorn, took a 1/4 cup of popcorn, mixed salt, brown sugar and olive oil with the popcorn, and put it in one paper bag (folding the top of the bag over twice). I sent the microwave for 1:45--and voila--a great snack.

I'm calling it recession popcorn. I don't know if it will help you in your job search but it's fun to make and you can always try it again if it doesn't work the first time. Just like you can re-design your resume, re-engineer your job search, or seek out the position that you simply think should exist--even if you've never heard of it before.

What's your version of recession popcorn?