Unjobbing..what the???

Last night I was wasting time on the interwebz as I am prone to do, when I stumbled on an interesting new term that I just had to share with you. Language is a funny thing; there are so many ways to say the same thing, so I suppose I should not be surprised to learn this term. Yet I think its one of those terms that who is saying it is what makes it somehow seem special.

So if you find yourself unemployed and unable to find a permanent job that meets your needs whatever they may be, ultimately most of us would find a way to cobble together a living. Hell, that’s what I did a few years ago when I spent 18 months as a self employed non profit consultant. I looked at what my strengths were and started marketing the hell out of myself. Turned out I wasn’t half bad but having a spouse who is already self employed, I tend to feel more comfortable having a traditional employment situation.

Well if for whatever reason you find yourself needing to cobble together a living, well you can just call yourself an unjobber. Yes, you read that correctly, unjobbing. In a nutshell unjobbing is described as “Unjobbing is a method to sustain a chosen lifestyle without the primary means of sustaining that lifestyle being a sole occupation in exchange for wages. Unjobbing is a creative choice.”  In other words earning a living however you can without benefit of a single job or jobs.

Now much of the literature that I found in my quick search of unjobbing is related in part to the unschooling movement. I got no bones to pick with the unschooling movement, I know a few folks who have made that choice for their families and for most of them it seems to work. I admit it’s probably not a path I would ever take in part I know myself and I know my kid. We both need a certain amount of structure but I digress.

Let’s get back to this unjobbing thing. For starters how the hell is unjobbing any different than folks who hustle together whatever work they can find to keep a roof over their heads and food on the tables? Really, I am not trying to be snarky. I suppose one could say it’s more of an intentional choice and that people who unjob probably make a conscious life choice to seek fulfillment outside the work world. I can dig it, most folks who unjob generally live outside the primary economic system, many living in the cash economy from what I can tell. Um….folks in the hood often do the same thing but it damn sure is not sold as a lifestyle choice, its survival.

Hell, at various times in my life maybe I should have claimed the unjobber status rather than saying I was trying to make ends meet. I got to be honest, the only difference I see here is that it’s more likely that white folks who hail from a certain background may gravitate to being unjobbers. Whereas persons of color who lack permanent employment for whatever reason might say they are getting their hustle on.

I know this piece might bring out the wrath of the PC police, hey lighten up! I admit discovering this term was enlightening to me. Who knows, I am dealing with some discontent in my world of work, maybe I will become an unjobber. All jokes aside for more information on unjobbing check out this link. By the way what do you think about unjobbing? I’d love to hear your feedback.

13 thoughts on “Unjobbing..what the???”

  1. BGIM says: “How the hell is unjobbing any different than folks who hustle together whatever work they can find to keep a roof over their heads and food on the tables?”

    Mainers recognize this style. As a state that’s ALWAYS been poor, without major cities and few major employers, most working folks have always had a hard time making ends meet. But I think we’ve tended to call it “diversifying.”

    Personally I like “get your hustle on.” At least it sounds like you”re busy!

  2. yeah, i think calling it “unjobbing” definitely seems like a white thing to do. those silly whiteys.

    what you describe, though — doing odd-and-end work when you can, just trying to get by — is reality for most of my neighbors here in geita, tanzania. there aren’t enough jobs to go around, so everyone’s trying to get some cash for their excess vegetables, make and sell a few bricks, or find a gig making juice for someone with more money than them. [for your records, all my neighbors are black.]

    leave it to the wealthy americans to glorify this way of living and then give it a hip and trendy name…

  3. Unjobbing? I have never heard of such term until you brought this to light. My question is how do you explain this on your interview or resume’? Will the majority of employers out there know what unjobbing is? Our society has to put a name to everything to make, it seems, a certain class of people feel better about themselves. I suppose we can add this to our terms in the dictionary now or maybe look it up on Wikipedia. What’s next?

  4. “Unjobbing” is stupid imo. Yeah, I wanna know how you explain that on a resume or in an interview too. Prb gets more approval depending on who the interviewee is. What exactly is “unschooling”? Self-study of whatever you feel like without a university approved curriculum?

  5. I like how “unjobbed” forces you to look at things from a different perspective, but I’m not sure it’s really an accurate term. It might describe this guy I know who deliberately works just enough to avoid losing his unemployment and disability payments, but I don’t think it’s the best way to describe what you did. That sounds more like good old-fashioned hustling. (Glad things worked out!)

  6. How can you be un-jobbing if you’re still working some kind of job? I’d agree with Denisha – wouldn’t want to to use this dumbed-down terminology in a resume or interview to describe a period of self-employment.

  7. Haven’t heard the term “unjobbing” before. To me THAT sound like the hustle. Never really cared for the term “unschooling” either. It doesn’t make much sense. Both terms sounds like a lame attempt to make it sound more desirable.

  8. Hi there BGIM- great post- made me chuckle . I wrote a post the other day about approaching 30 and seeing it as an opportunity to figure out what the heck I want out of life. It was inspired by the fact that I’ll be laid off in < 3 weeks for the second time in as many years, and I’m really kinda over the corporate America thing. I’m a black girl, and of course in most black families “not working to discover yourself” is just not okay. But a lot of my white friends who have had the luxury of a supportive family when taking some time off to do just that inspired me, so I’m doing it! I’m counting the days until I can just try a bunch of different avenues for feeding myself and paying the dog's vet bills. The main reason I love your post? Now I know that to get my family’s buy-in, I should frame in terms of ‘hustling.’

  9. Unjobbing sounds a lot like what I saw among most participants in the formal and informal labor markets in Cairo when I lived there. Just like you said, making ends meet by bringing money and resources in from wherever they can be obtained. Maybe you right, the distinction is one that a very particular and likely privileged group of people are making; one that says, “I am leaving behind the notion that I need to cling to one place, one idea, one method of ‘making a living.”

    By the way, I love your writing voice. You rock.


  10. Never heard the term “unjobbing.” Interesting. I wish I had been paying more attention the other day: on the radio (PBR) they were going on about a website that different cities are creating where you basically barter and swap trades and services, but the unique part was you could “earn credit” from one and “use credit” towards another. For example, I might take two hours to prepare someone’s taxes which gives me 2 credits… then I may turn around and use those credits towards getting my hair done by someone else who volunteers their time. That person doing hair might then use their credits (earned from volunteering) to put towards someone offering to come in and fix a leaky faucet. But I digress. “Unjobbing” just has a negative connotation to it. That’s just my initial thought that crosses my mind.

  11. unjobbing “We live in the Third World that term a lot
    And difficult of this term
    To work in one of the oil-producing countries do not receive wages
    Cover accommodation and all taxes and outrageous

  12. bwahahaaaaaa! until reading this, i thought i was self-employed. well, technically, i am – but who knows for how long? from now on, this will be my conscious goal: become a real unjobber. (my blog is all about this – to spare you a click, in case you’re curious). i hope you don’t mind if some of these days i’ll post something (else, of course) about this.

  13. I’m not an unjobber, but I think you are all misunderstanding what unjobbing is. If you are struggling to make ends meet or have plans to put anything on a resume than you are not an unjobber. Unjobbing, from what I understand, is a philosophy of making your own living and life at your terms. Sure, it might mean cutting back on essentials, but its not just getting by or surviving. That would actually go against the philosophy since unjobbing is about living life. An unjobber is not just using that term to mean he or she is unemployed or in between jobs. An unjobber has made the decision to not work just to survive, but rather live life in a fulfilling way. An unjobber might be the person who blogs for a living because they love to blog or the person who makes money as a conference speaker or perhaps the person who makes a living writing novels. It’s not the person mowing grass between jobs, but rather the person who decides to start their own lawn care business pricing their work at a premium price so that they work less hours for more money so that they can spend more time with family. An unjobber could be anyone from the family that decides to start their own organic farm to the person that sells fine art. The point is they choose to do what makes them happy in life and not be a part of the 9 to 5 jobs or the 3 shift factory jobs. Its working for yourself and really living. Unjobbing does not necessarily mean poor. It might mean cutting back. But, it doesn’t mean scraping by to make ends meet. And even though most unjobbers work for themselves, it does not include the people who work for themselves and let the stress of that business become as bad as working for another business. Its getting out of the rat race basically. 🙂

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