Being out of work can be isolating. The people who used to be co-workers might indeed be saddened with your departure if you were fired, quit or laid off, but it would be unusual for many of those relationships to continue for very long into your period of unemployment as a previous co-worker.
For some people, sitting inside their apartment or home and watching others go by their windows on their way to work can be a source of tremendous stress. “Everybody in the world seems to have somewhere to go, are doing important things and making money while I’m just sitting here. What’s wrong with me?” If this kind of behaviour goes on too long, anxiety builds up and full-blown depression can take seed and grow almost debilitating a person into becoming afraid to go out and leave the safe confines of their living space.
Another problem can often be a lack of faith others have in your ability to find meaningful work. Not all of us have the luxury of parents and spouses who believe in us and stay optimistic for us. Some folks have parents who make comments like, “Ha, I told you you’d never last at that job. Couldn’t take it? You’ll never really amount to much and I told you. Best you just get used to it – you’re no better than we are. Just collect your social assistance ’cause this is as good as it gets for you and us.”
As for spouses, again not all are 100% supportive. Some think they are doing the right thing to motivate their unemployed partner by yelling and screaming at them to get out and get a job; pull their weight in the relationship or else! But is that really helpful?
Finally, there’s our friends. Once you become unemployed you might have working friends that act like they are afraid they might ‘catch’ your unemployment because they stop calling on you. They say they’re sorry to hear you are out of work, but they don’t do anything more to help in any way. That could be of course because they don’t know what to do to help, and if they did know, they’d do it. Forgive them.
Now ironically, there’s another situation where you can be surrounded by family and friends – even a spouse who are very supportive of your unemployment because they too are in the same position. They’ll be happy to spend time with you talking, window shopping, hanging out, playing with the dogs or kids in the park. It appears they are being helpful and supportive, but actually without meaning to, they are taking time away from what otherwise could be valuable time spent looking for your next job.
Instead of going at this job search alone, it’s vitally important to surround yourself with people who can actually have a positive influence on you and energize you. Several organizations nearby may have job search groups; literally a group of motivated but out-of-work individuals who come together to look for work but do so in a structured group setting.
In such a group, you lose the feeling of isolation, you feel supported by others in the same situation and your job search takes on focus and structure. In short, you get organized, energized and motivated to succeed. You may find job leads, new ways to go about your job search, connections, correct a problem like a weak resume and cover letter which previously you thought were okay. Who knows? You might even get the guidance of an Employment Advisor or Career Counsellor running the group that can give you some helpful suggestions.
The point is that your job search support team is pulling in the same direction as you. Quite frankly, in the nicest but most direct way possible, you should in my opinion, advise your family, friends and partner to either get behind you or get out of your way.
I have gone so far in the past on many occasions to advise some of my clients to consider giving their own parents an ultimatum; either be supportive and be positive or risk being shut out of daily conversations until the person gets employed. It is our parents above all the other people on the earth who you think would be behind us in a job search, and so you see it hurts more than anything when they aren’t. Same goes with a spouse who is supposed to be there no matter what but, may turn out to be very unforgiving even when the job loss has nothing to do with performance – as in the case of a layoff.
So get people on board early. It’s normal to be frustrated, disappointed, rejected, and maybe even angry in a job search. You won’t be successful with every job application and especially in a competitive market. It’s how you deal with the rejection and the disappointment that is critical.
Share your job search activities with the important people in your life so they hear what you are doing proactively to find work. Surround yourself with positive people so that energy keeps you from retreating to dark places. Take a workshop, course, sit in on a class through an unemployment help centre. These classes may be free and you’ll have new things to put on that resume while staying connected.
Keep the attitude positive. I’m pulling for you.