7 Ways To Earn Money When You’re Unemployed

Man looking for work on phone

 Getty Images / PhotoAlto / Sigrid Olsson

Are you recently unemployed and trying to figure out a way to make ends meet? The first thing you should know is that you have plenty of company. 

Research shows that 61% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. Over 30% of unemployed people are out of work for 15 weeks or longer, per the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That presents a serious financial challenge for the majority of U.S. workers, who find themselves low on cash soon after losing a job. 

The good news is that there are many ways to earn money while you look for your next full-time role. From freelance and temp work to app-based gigs and online sales, you have options. You may even find that you’re eligible for extended unemployment benefits and other assistance that can help you bridge the gap. 

Key Takeaways

  • Use keywords and filters on job search sites to find “easily apply” or “urgently hiring” jobs.
  • Contact temporary employment agencies to look for temp jobs or contract work.
  • Use gig apps to find shopping jobs, task work, driving gigs, or dog-walking jobs.
  • Don’t assume that you’re ineligible for unemployment benefits, even if you were terminated from your job.

1. Check Out ‘Easily Apply’ and ‘Urgently Hiring’ Jobs

There are some companies with positions that hire quickly. In some cases, you won’t even need a resume to apply. 

How To Find the Jobs

One of the best ways to find a job quickly is to use job sites that flag jobs available for immediate hire. For example, Indeed notes on job postings when companies are urgently hiring, and you can easily apply through the site.


If you’re collecting unemployment benefits, it’s essential to understand the rules and regulations and how they impact what you can earn before checking out job options. 

Using advanced search options is another way to narrow your search to generate lists of quick-fill positions. Use terms like “hiring now” or “immediate opening” to find listings.

Available for Work Options

Let employers know that you’re available so you can find your next job faster. Indeed’s Ready to Work option shows employers that you can start work immediately. All you need to do is check the box so hiring managers can find you. 

LinkedIn’s Open to Work feature is another way to show recruiters that you’re open to new job opportunities and available to work right away. LinkedIn reports that job seekers who selected Open to Work on their profiles doubled their likelihood of getting a message from a recruiter. Additionally, members who added an Open to Work frame to their profile picture were 40% more likely to receive InMails from recruiters.

2. Get a Part-Time or Temporary Job

A part-time, temporary, or seasonal job can generate income while leaving you time to search for a full-time permanent role. Again, check to see how working part-time could impact your unemployment benefits when you’re deciding how many hours you’re available to work. Some sites you can use are: 

Bluecrew: Find hourly short-term (or longer-term) jobs that fit your location, schedule, and skills. You’ll only need to fill out one application to apply, and then you’ll be able to use the app to select jobs and shifts you’re available to work.

Snagajob: Find listings that are urgently hiring within a range of your ZIP code. Add a profile to the site, and you’ll be able to apply with a click of a button.

FlexJobs: Find part-time jobs and other flexible work at FlexJobs, a subscription site that features vetted listings from top employers. For a shortcut, check out its list of 30 companies that are hiring now for part-time work-at-home positions.


Your next job doesn’t have to be your dream job. It could be a stopgap position to tide you over while you continue your job search.

3. Find a Remote Job

If working onsite is an issue because of childcare, family, or other issues there are flexible remote jobs you can get hired for quickly:

  • Search Indeed and Monster using terms such as “remote” and “work from home” to find virtual employment. 
  • FlexJobs has also vetted opportunities for flexible and remote work. There’s a fee, but there are often discounts available. 
  • Use CareerOneStop’s Find a Remote Job portal to search for positions where you don’t need to commute or work onsite every day.

4. Find Freelance Work

The growth of the gig economy provides an opportunity to freelance and market the skills you may already have. Use the skills you have from the job you’ve lost or check out gigs that require a different skill set to get started freelancing:

  • Upwork and Freelancer are two of the largest platforms for finding freelance work. 
  • Facebook Groups often have job postings for group members. 
  • Craigslist has work posted—use caution as these are not vetted opportunities. Check job boards by searching for keyword terms such as “freelance” or “contract” and your job preferences. 
  • Tap your career network, family, and friends to let them know that you’re available for projects.

5. Use an App To Get Gigs

Gig work is an option if you’re seeking a flexible work schedule and a way to monetize your time. Many app-based gig jobs pay immediately, and you can work on demand without committing to a set schedule. Some of the options for gig work include:

  • Caregiving 
  • Cleaning 
  • Fixing and Repairing 
  • Pet Sitting
  • Renting Space
  • Shopping and Delivering 
  • Task Work
  • Transportation
  • Tutoring and Teaching

6. Sell Your Unnecessary Items 

One way to get cash quickly is to sell the stuff you don’t need. Amazon accepts trade-ins on devices, electronics, and video games. There are many sites and apps you can use to sell clothes and household items.

Additionally, local sites like Craigslist, Nextdoor, Facebook Marketplace, or online garage sales are other good ways to sell what you don’t need and generate some quick cash. 

7. Double-Check Your Unemployment Eligibility

Don’t assume that you’re ineligible for unemployment benefits—even if you were terminated from your job. Guidelines vary by state. In any case, it’s always best to file. Your previous employer may not decide to contest your application. 

You may also be entitled to extended benefits if you’ve used up your regular unemployment, or partial unemployment if you’re working part-time. 


To continue to collect unemployment benefits, you must file weekly or biweekly claims and report any earnings from work you had during the week(s).

Tools You Can Use to Get Help

The U.S. Department of Labor maintains CareerOneStop, which offers resources to help you find jobs, training, and additional benefits. Here are a few tools you’ll find on the site: 

  • Unemployment Benefits Finder contains information on unemployment eligibility, benefits, filing in your location, and finding answers to any questions you may have about your claim.
  • Employment Recovery Portal can direct you to federal, state, and local resources for assistance with housing, finances, food, and health care.
  • State Resource Finder links to state agencies, nonprofits, and other assistance providers for employment, health care, housing, food, and more.
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The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. PYMNTS.com. "Report: 36% of Consumers Earning $250K+ Now Live Paycheck to Paycheck." 

  2. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. "Table A-12. Unemployed Persons by Duration of Unemployment." 

  3. LinkedIn. "To Find Your Next Job More Quickly, Tell Your Community You’re Open to Work."

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