In today’s economy, with soaring unemployment rates, cut-backs, massive lay-offs and a consumerist culture shouts “buy, buy, buy,” it’s devastating to be jobless.
Furthermore, our cultural values are out of sync – how we value ourselves and our mental and emotional health versus the value of work, money and “stuff.”
(Ironically, volunteer work builds self-esteem more than a huge salary and it’s a great stress-reducing strategy while job-hunting.)
All this hit the headlines last week…
Democratic strategist Hilary Rosen belittled Mitt Romney’s wife Ann and her full-time career as a housewife and stay-at-home- mom.
“Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life,” Rosen said on CNN.”She’s never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing, in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future.”
That comment rang alarms with everyone across the political spectrum. Especially women.
Rosen’s insensitivity – she apologized – proved that the vital work of raising today’s children – tomorrow’s adults – is enormously misunderstood. Frank Bruni in this week’s Sunday New York Times opined passionately about why.
Today, sadly, you are your work!
If you don’t do work that pays money – the more the merrier – you’re less of a person. A nobody. You internalize this fact. You feel useless.
Your confidence takes the biggest hit when you’re jobless. How do you market yourself when you feel worthless?
You lose your identity…
Aside from the devastating financial repercussions, it’s normal be feel depressed. Psych Central Associate Editor Therese Borchard’s excellent post on 12 depression busters if you’re unemployed is required reading.
But with time, it gets better. I know. I’m living with unemployment stress right now. I’ve not worked for the last year. But I’ve learned that the worst thing is letting that stress destroy you, mentally and emotionally.
Having a positive attitude is your most valuable tool. And the willingness to persist.
1. Treat searching for your next career move like a full-time job
It’s hard facing the challenge of mounting a job search. It’s a process that takes time, energy and courage. I didn’t realize that until I began to take action.
I’ve found that the way to beat the daunting anxiety of being out of work is not denial, blame, anger or hostility. It’s ACTION.
So, here is what I’m doing – it’s giving giving me energy and hope.
2. Go for a walk
Steve Jobs conducted many of his meetings while walking. It’s stimulating and reflective. Inspiring. When I’m out in the fresh air, walking my dogs, moving, I get my best ideas. It’s good for your heart and head. You meet other people.
The point is by getting out and walking, automatically you get yourself “out of yourself” and out in the world.
And one more thing. Walking is a great leveller. No one knows who you are, what you do or how much money you make when you’re walking. It relaxes and physically and emotionally de-stresses you.
3. Find a buddy
It helps to work with someone you like and respect who’s in your shoes. Together you can brainstorm, walk and share networks, kick around ideas and encourage each other.
The synergy of life is a simple mathematical equation. 1 + 1 = 3. Do some mind mapping. It’s all about relationships, making connections. Your job search is no different. You’ll be hired because your chemistry, your energy, your personality. It helps to feel you’re not alone, because you’re not.
4. Build your network
You already have a network. Start making lists.
Start talking to your friends, family, former colleagues, people you know professionally. Begin with people who are safe. Practice. Ask for advice.
Remember, people are always flattered to be asked for advice.
5. See yourself through a contemporary lens ~ reframe, reinvent, redesign
Language is everything and it changes very fast. Today’s “administrative assistant” was yesterday’s secretary. Today’s keyboarding was yesterday’s typing. Today’s content provider and blogger was yesterday’s journalist.
Today’s corporate culture is lean and competitive, but knowledge is power. Research the realities of today’s job market. Not just online.
Get out there. Start talking to people who understand the realities. Don’t believe the myths. Take notes. Hand out your business/calling cards and collect theirs.
6. Ask questions. Focus on where you might fit in
Last week, a National Job Fair I attended was a real eye opener. No recruiters for journalists, writers, even marketing analysts.
Does that mean all my training, skills and experience are worth nothing today? Not likely. I learned a lot.
I am working on reinventing myself. I’m getting excited about the challenge.
I’m reconfiguring my skills for a new market. Developing contacts in the hidden job market – all those jobs or potential contracts that aren’t advertised.
Who said being unemployed wasn’t hard work?
Anything is possible.
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