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How to Find a Job When You are Homeless

Finding a job is difficult for everyone but if you are homeless, you have to overcome a lot more obstacles.  The whole process can be so frustrating that it's tempting to give up but try to stick with it.  It's not hard because there is something wrong with you; it's hard for everybody.  Here are some tips that will help:

Figure out how employers can contact you.  One of the most difficult aspects of looking for a job when you are homeless is maintaining contact with the employer.  If you don't have a phone or access to a computer, this can be extremely challenging.  You need to have a plan.  In order to even get to the interview stage, you need to have a phone number where employers can at least leave a message for you, an email account that you check on a regular basis, and a mailing address for your resume.    If you can afford a pay-as-you-go phone plan with voice mail, that would be ideal.  If not, see if you any of your friends or family members would be willing to take messages for you.  Many community service agencies and public libraries have computers where you can access the internet.  Make it a habit to check your email every day.  Employers won't usually send you mail but they do expect to see a mailing address on your resume.  Again the best approach is to ask a friend or family member if you can use their address.    

Get at least one professional outfit.  Maintaining a professional appearance is also extremely difficult when you are homeless.  Hopefully you have access to a shower but the reality is that you have to do your best with whatever you have available to you.  If you don't have professional clothes, there are many organizations that give them away or sell them cheaply to people who need them.  Even though it is difficult, it is important that you have a professional appearance when you meet employers because it has a huge impact on the way that they perceive you.        

Make use of any resources that are available to you.  You have undertaken a difficult task.  Don't be afraid to accept help.  There are many organizations in the community that would be happy to assist you if you let them.  For example, Tropicana Employment Centre  can provide you with an Employment Counsellor who will help you with your job search as well as a job developer who can connect you with employers.  There are many other organizations that can provide other support such as housing, counselling, childcare and legal advice,          

Be flexible.  It is much easier to find a job when you are already working.  It might be difficult for you to get your ideal job right now but if you accept a position (even if it's not perfect) you might be able to leverage your experience and your 'currently employed' status to land a better opportunity.    

Use your network.  Networking is always the most effective job search strategy.  This is especially true when you are facing additional challenges such as being homeless.  When we know employers personally, they are more willing to overlook things that other employers might perceive as a red flag.  Talk to your friends and family and let them know that you are looking for a job.  Ask them if they know of any organization that might be hiring.  

Things may feel bleak now but it won't be like this forever.  Keep knocking on doors and one day a door will open for you.  Don't give up on yourself.  


(Written by Karen Bivand, Image Courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at