Why Aren’t You Working?

There are many reasons why people aren’t working; what’s yours? Some possibilities are:

  • Not looking for work
  • Physical or mental health restrictions
  • Poor interview skills
  • Weak resume
  • Unsure what to do
  • Attending school full-time
  • Raising pre-school age children and unable/unwilling to find childcare
  • Required as a primary caregiver for a family member
  • Not motivated

This isn’t an exhaustive list of course, just enough to stimulate some thought, give enough possibilities that some of my audience is captured and yes, perhaps enlighten those that think there’s only one reason anyone would be out of work – laziness.

The first and last reasons on my list – not looking and not motivated one could easily argue are so related they are really the same; ie. not motivated to look for work. For some people, this is absolutely true. Would you agree there are those who aren’t motivated enough to seek out a job? I mean, I know people who fit this category and I suspect you do as well. They have shelter and food provided by someone or some organization, their needs are modest, their motivation to work to earn enough money to support themselves just isn’t enough to get them going.

Perhaps it’s a phrase in that last sentence that is the real issue for many; the idea that money to support themselves is the motivation to work. Money does of course, provide the means to acquire housing and food, as well as the discretionary things in life which for many improves their quality of life. However, working to support oneself when you’re already being supported isn’t much motivation. In other words, if you’re not working but getting housed and fed, you might not be motivated to work 7 hours a day just to get housed and fed – something you already have.

Work therefore, or more importantly, the motivation to choose to work, has to come when there’s more to be gained than just money for basic support. For some it can be an issue of dignity vs. shame or embarrassment. Support yourself with your own source of income and you feel independence, a sense of being in control of what you do, where you live, what you do with your money, who knows your personal business and who doesn’t.

For some people, work provides social interaction. Be it with co-workers or customers, there’s some connection to other people, which stimulates our feelings of inclusiveness; we are part of something and not isolated. Feeling isolated, left behind, left out, missing out – these are common to people who don’t work in some cases. Of course, other unemployed people will tell you they get all the interaction with people they want; many of those they ‘hang with” themselves being unemployed.

Feeling a sense of purpose is one thing employed people often tout as the best part of their jobs. What they do is significant and important to some part of our population, and this feeling of purpose gives identity to the working person. The problem for some who struggle to find a job is in fact deciding on what job to do; in other words, they are focused so much on finding their purpose, they get paralyzed waiting for it to materialize.

The irony is that when you’re unsure what to do with your life, often the best way to discover it is to start working! It is through work that you learn where your skills are, which skills you wish to develop and improve on, what you like and don’t. You learn through success and failure what you’re good at, where you make a difference, where you’re appreciated for your service and what you do and don’t want to do in future jobs. The idea that at 20 years old you should have the next 43 years all laid out clearly before you is a myth. You’ll change jobs and careers in your lifetime – perhaps 7 or 8 times or more and this is normal.

For some – and you may not like this truth – it is a question of not trying hard enough. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not painting everyone with the same brush, and I’m not saying some people who are out of work don’t put in huge amounts of energy and time. However, if you’ve gone at your job search seriously with no success for a long time, its high time you partnered up with someone and get the guidance and support you obviously need to increase the odds of success. This is precisely the action many don’t want to take and that’s a puzzlement.

The crux of the thing is it’s essential that you’re honest with yourself when it comes to why you’re not working. What you tell others who ask may not be the real reason; what you know to be at the heart of why you aren’t working is the truth. So what is it?

Good questions might be:

  • Why aren’t I working?
  • Am I genuinely happy not working?
  • What’s stopping me? (Is it really me?)
  • Where could I get help and support to find work?
  • What would make me more employable?
  • Who might help me discover my strengths and interests?
  • How do I get help with childcare, transportation, the issue of my age?
  • Would volunteering somewhere be the best way to start?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this issue; whether it’s you or someone you know out of work.

Job Search? Just Give Up

Are you one of the many people who has grown so frustrated with the job search process that you’ve given up entirely on looking for work? If you have, there are a lot of other job seekers out there who would like to thank you for making it easier for them; so cheers on their behalf. Oh and let’s not forget the employers who are grateful that you’ve stopped wasting their time as well. They raise a glass and toast you as well.

So now that you’ve made it easier for others to get jobs and you’ve made life easier on the employers who have one less resume and cover letter to look over and reject in the end, how do you feel? I suspect you’re feeling relief and can finally relax now that the stress of the job search is over. Yes sir, you can finally put your feet up and settle in to that seat on the couch you always favoured at the end of your work day. This will give you time after all to put up your feel on the coffee table or ottoman,  pick up your favourite book and disappear into some world of espionage, fantasy landscape or romantic paradise.

Is it really like that? Sure maybe for a few moments, days or even weeks. We’re all different after all so maybe you can sustain that illusion of a stress-free life. Ah but for the vast majority, it’s not stress-free whatsoever. Your creditors don’t look at your new-found decision favourably; they still want their money. They may appear to be giving you a break by only asking for minimum payments, but that interest is adding up – and not in your favour.

Bills, school loans, borrowing on credit, it’s all adding up. Are you one of the people who ignores the envelopes from creditors and doesn’t pick up the phone when you just know it’s them on the other end demanding payments? Are you wondering how long it will be until you wake up to the sound of your car being towed away and a repossession order put into  your hands as a replacement? Sure this is the stress-free life you envisioned when you gave up the job search?

I rather doubt this is what you had in mind. If only the world would stop turning for a bit and you could play catch up. But it doesn’t stop does it? No, life goes on and the pressure never seems to stop. You see commercials for the things you want on the television and on billboard screens. You hear radio ads and long for things that are out of reach to you but seem to be available to just about anyone else? Life is so unfair!

Sooner or later you’ll probably come to a point where living this kind of life loses its appeal too; and looking for work will seem more desirable. You’ll admit in the future that you should never have stopped looking in the first place; but by then you’ll have new barriers to employment. You’ll find your references have dried up, your skills are rusty, your confidence to work is shot; self-esteem is in the toilet and you’ll tire easily with minimum effort because you aren’t use to putting in a strong 7 hour day of both physical and mental work.

Here’s another reality you won’t like; from the day you stopped actively looking for work right up until you change your mind, the number of people looking for work has steadily increased. Suddenly you’ll have not just more people to compete with, but you’ll compete with more people who have more recent work experience and who have current education trumping your then dated experience.

In other words, as hard as it appears now, if you put your job search into hibernation, it’s going to be substantially harder when you decide to re-enter the job search market.

That being said, another truism is that however you are going about your job search now is obviously not working. You need a different approach, probably some employment counselling or coaching, and most people who have asked for and received help in finding work have found the support they received beneficial.

If you’ve lost your enthusiasm for looking for work, it’s pretty hard to just light a switch and burn anew with the energy job searching demands. Even if you believe you’re on fire again, that fire is going to need some stoking and some fresh source of fuel to fan the flames. This is where seeking out someone where you live to support you in your job search can be the difference between a successful start and going through a number of false starts.

Employment Counsellors and Consultants, Job Coaches and Mentors can walk that fine line between pointing out what you’re doing poorly and at the same time believing in you during a time when you’ve lost confidence in yourself.

Please don’t read this blog as an advertisement for business. I’d like you to look up and get 1:1 help in your local area; it may be that you walk in and set up an appointment with a professional at no cost whatsoever depending on the service you have available. What you learn on the other hand might be priceless.

Give up or get going; your choice; always has been and always will be.

Get Yourself Some Job Search Support

I’m going to share with you an observation I have repeatedly noted when assisting unemployed people in their efforts to find a job. It may not seem like a might revelation, but the more I watch them go about their job searching, the more I am able to observe not only their strengths, but also their weaknesses. Big deal you say? It is.

See, here’s the thing: if you job search in isolation, no one can observe how you are going about looking for a job. If you get involved with a professional Employment Coach and meet with them personally every so often for an update, you can benefit from those chats somewhat. Ah, but if you are in an actual workshop where you are looking for work daily for 2 weeks or longer, then the person running that workshop can observe you, note your strengths and weaknesses and make some very critical recommendations. The more they see, the more they are able to share those observations.

Now lest you think I’m running an advertisement here disguised as a blog, let me assure you I’m not. In fact, the clients I work with on a daily basis get my services at no charge, and the people I help outside of my day job and on my personal time receive help at no charge. There’s no motive in my writings except to provide sound advice and sometimes observations and opinions on how to both get and keep a job or career.

My point today is that if you are looking for work, you really should get yourself into a structured job search group; the kind of group that’s going to meet on a daily basis. First of all, while you can job search on your own at home, there are too many distractions. There’s the laundry, the television and stereo, the backyard, a friend dropping by, little jobs here and there, the fridge, children, spouses, neighbours, the bed, the couch – all of these things and more are tempting or annoying distractions which will lure you easily away from a 5 or 6 hour job search on a daily basis.

When you are in a group and everyone is looking for work, you immediately get the benefit of group support. This small network can keep you on track, someone might share a job lead, and you find your attitude changes because you’ve got to get up, get dressed, get out  the door and get somewhere on time. All of a sudden you find yourself with a routine again; and employers like people with healthy routines. Someone who is out of work for a long period develop what employers view as decidedly unhealthy routines, and often the body and mind go soft and are not prepared for the demands of showing up punctually for work when they are hired otherwise.

While in a group, the person or people running the job search group are watching and listening. Some of the things they can help you with come out of these two activities. Their observations can be of great benefit to you in pointing out constructively where you might be in need of help. So for example, how do you fit in with other people in a group? If you can’t get along with others, find them distracting or you are constantly disturbing them, maybe saying you are a great team player on your resume isn’t such a great idea at all. If you have a short attention span, become easily swayed from what you should be doing, your keyboarding and computer skills expose you as needing a keyboard tutorial; these things would never be known unless someone had a chance to observe you.

It’s not just about finding fault in how you work, it’s about finding areas where your skills need improving to make you competitive and helping you reach your end goal of financial independence. Let’s look at it this way; you’re unemployed and if you’ve been searching for work without success, something or some things need addressing. Not every unemployed person even knows where they are falling short or having a problem. A trained eye and ear working with you on a daily basis can spot perhaps what you yourself cannot. You’ll be doing yourself a big favour if you sign up, get some professional help and then stay open to the feedback you’ll get.

By the way, the kind of experience I’m talking about here can either be free or one you pay for. Unlike most things in life, just paying for the service does not guarantee it will be a more profitable experience for you. In your community, I’d suggest you start by looking up unemployed help centres and social service agencies. Most of these organizations are well aware of other service providers. If you’re looking for help finding a job and the one you call doesn’t offer that service, they will be able to point you in the right direction. Don’t give up after one call.

Look, it’s competitive out there and the number of people entering the job search market is growing on a daily basis.  There are always jobs available and when you find the job that would be a great fit; you’ll want to make the best impression on them you possibly can. Why wouldn’t you want that kind of help especially if you could get it for free?