One of the most troubling things about a job search is the presence of something that may be new to you if you have been well-connected and socially engaged in your work-life; namely isolation. One of the most immediate things that probably has happened to you is a reduction in the number of people you speak with on a daily basis because there is no water cooler to hang out at, no one coming to ask if you want to take a break together, and no one asking if you have a moment to consult with.
At some point in your job searching, you may opt to join a group of others who are looking for employment. Perhaps your company has paid for you to do so, you make a decision to pay for one yourself, or if you are very lucky, you don’t have to pay at all such as in the case of those on Social Assistance or Employment Insurance. Joining a group can be helpful. For starters you’ll get direction, feedback, constructive criticism, new ideas and support but most importantly, you’ll feel part of something again.
However, no matter the length of the program you participate in, there will be a time when it concludes, or the services scaled back. Be prepared for the psychological hit to your ego again when you wake up on the following Monday and you have no place to go. Most employment assistance programs are designed to impart advice, helpful knowledge, direction and help with your motivation. However, they all share one thing in common and that is that they expect you to take those ideas and put them into practice independently at some point.
I know first-hand having attended one myself many years ago. I went from a job to being laid off and the employer paid for me to attend a group to help get my next job. It was stimulating, supportive and helpful. While there I was given written material, improved my job searching skills including my resume and interview techniques. However, on the day I started, I knew too there would be a, ‘last day of the program’. On the following Monday, I was back at it again, but this time I was again at home and job searching solo. Those people I was bonding with and sharing the unemployment experience with were gone.
Developing positive habits that mirror your working life will serve you well of course. Get up, get showered, take care of personal grooming, have your breakfast and start working just as you would when employed, but now start looking for employment with the same energy and commitment you would make if you had a paying job. Networking with people you know will help you feel connected. Stay in touch with some of the people in your job search group. If the Facilitator offered to stay in touch, call them up and connect. Contact past co-workers, friends, family, past employers, teachers, coaches, business partners etc. and stay in the loop. This helps you combat the, “woe is me, come to my pity party” attitude.
Job search groups are wonderful and will give you skills and feedback to help you along. Just be prepared to combat the feeling of being right back where you were before you started when they conclude. Know that before you can start your next career, you have to move forward, and ending a job search group is moving in the right direction if you choose to see it that way.