Images courtesy of David Castillo Dominici (‘Stressed Man’), Stuart Miles (‘Job in Maze’) and Fantasista at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Unemployment – you’ve seen the statistics. Continual business re-organisations, global competition, a turbulent economy. That’s the business face of it. But what about the less discussed human face.
Having recently been made redundant from a successful 13-year career at a large international corporate, I find myself one of those ‘unemployed’. I say recent, but in June 2016 it will be coming up for a year. Don’t get me wrong, part of that ‘time out’ was my choice and I’m in the privileged position to have a good package to support me through a Masters study during this time.
Regardless of my privileged unemployment status, the uncomfortable and uncertain space of not having a job has had a psychological impact and can at times be soul-destroying. Continual job applications, updating CVs and motivation letters for multiples roles. A little bit of hope with each application that this might be ‘the one’, only to hear ‘Thanks, but no thanks. You’re not what we need’.
I consider myself to be intelligent, very capable and hard-working. I’m a good team player and have the ability to bring out the best in people and my communication skills are shit hot – minus the swearing. This is not my ego talking, I have a large network to vouch for these things (references can be provided, should you require proof..) and my career progression has shown I can turn my hand to pretty much anything I try.
However, competition is stiff and I also face the challenge of making a career ‘switch’. I am being picky about what I apply for, but shouldn’t I be allowed to be picky? I’m talented and have a lot to offer. I also have a huge drive to ensure my next job makes me ‘happy’. But striking that balance between being true to the meaningful job my heart is seeking and not giving into the ‘shit I have no job’ panic is really hard. Having been through a burnout at work, I am extremely in tune with what fulfils me and what doesn’t.
So now you have two things to judge me on; one the fact that I burnout at work and two that I’m unemployed. I’m obviously a weak character right?? Well, despite these sometimes popular assumptions, being unemployed requires a drive and strength which laughs in the face of laziness. Motivating yourself to keep applying rejection after rejection, takes a huge amount of energy and keeping the faith that things will work out can be emotionally taxing and requires continuous resilience.
Unemployment has far-reaching psychological consequences. It strips you of your identity and self-worth. And just at the time you need your confidence to be at its highest to effectively ‘sell’ yourself, it’s actually at rock-bottom. From a social perspective, it can be a very lonely place. While the rest of the world is working, I find excuses to go and drink coffee just to be around people. As a ‘people person’, the days spent alone have been the hardest.
So amongst the doom and gloom of ‘jobless-ness’, how do we ‘hang in there’.
KEEP HOPING, STAY POSITIVE, even rejection after rejection. After all, it’s not you, it’s them. Something will crop up at the right time, but as we don’t have time-lord powers we cannot control what that time-frame will be. Spend time with people that love you. Do things that feed your soul. Listen to your favourite songs on repeat (LOUDLY). Give your services to charity. There’s a whole heap of other clichés, but they are the things that sustain the good energy you need to keep you going during the process. AND it is just a process. It’s not personal. Someone will take a punt on you and things will work out.
The very last and most important point of all is don’t be hard on yourself (and I need to practice what I preach). You didn’t create this situation. And, if you do feel down, angry or despondent that’s ok too. In fact, it’s completely normal, there’s an unemployment bell curve to prove it.
And remember, if you’re lonely come find me. I’ll be drinking coffee getting a ‘people watching fix’ and you’re very welcome to join me.