I think it’s a behaviour common to many people; when we’re embarrassed, ashamed or we feel we don’t quite measure up in some way, we do our best to isolate ourselves and keep the source of our embarrassment to ourselves. After all, the fewer people who see us in these moments, the less likely we’ll feel exposed and we hope to reintegrate ourselves back into our circle of friends and family when we’ve recovered.
Being out of work can feel very much like this scenario. Lose your job and you might tell a few of your closest supporters, adding, “Please don’t tell anyone. I don’t want everyone to know.”
The irony of this behaviour is that we often miss opportunities because the very people who could tell us about job openings are kept unaware that we’re looking for a job. As you’re unaware that they know there’s a job opening, you don’t even know what you’re missing; but you’ve missed it all the same.
It’s our ego though that needs protecting; and I don’t mean this is in a self-centered kind of way. Protecting our ego, how we view and see ourselves, is a natural response. The fewer people who know about our unemployment the better; and if they want to assume we are still employed but on some vacation or leave, that’s fine. We’d rather they don’t even know we’re off in the first place. And this is the problem. We don’t want to have to explain why we’re not at work, so what we often do is stay inside our apartments, condo’s and houses; going out only to gather food and necessities.
Like I said, this behaviour is natural and instinctive. So having stated this, let me suggest you consider doing something which on the surface goes against your natural instincts; get your support team together.
Your support team isn’t just made up of Employment Coaches and Resume Writers. It isn’t made up exclusively by your spouse or your best friend either. No, your support team is composed of people you can trust to help you out while you look to regain employment. Just like many other teams you’ll be apart of in life in your personal and professional life, team members have specific roles.
Here’s some of the people you might want to enlist to be a part of your team:
You’ll need to be the CEO or lead of your job search team. As you’re going to be recruiting people to help you out, you’ll need to prove that you’re seriously invested in this project. It will mean reaching out to people, getting them on board, checking in with them to make sure they stay committed – and they’ll work more for you if they see you working hardest for yourself. You need to be accountable therefore; show up for meetings, do your homework and work hard at finding work.
2. Emotional Supporters
Before we get to the technical helpers, you need people who will empathize with you, care for your well-being and understand the highs and lows of the job search. You’re going to have bad days precisely because you’re human. Emotional Supporters are those who get that and love you anyway. These folks pick you up and pick up the tab here and there when there is one. They keep you included in get-togethers and find the ‘free stuff’ to do is important to staying connected.
3. Technical Support
You’d be well-advised to have some expertise on your team when it comes to resume writing, employer and employment research. A good proofreader, a sounding board or Employment Coach to offer the critique you need but in a supportive and understanding approach. Whoever you have in this area might be your mock interviewer, helping you find and keep the confidence to do your best in those up and coming interviews.
4. Partners and Family
Obviously if you’re single and have no family you can pass on this one. However, when you have a partner, your spouse, boy/girl friend, etc. is critical to providing you with the stability you need when the assurance and identity a job brings is missing. Sure you might not want to, ‘burden’ them with your news and hold out telling them above all others, but your partner is a partner for a reason. It’s not your job that they value most – it’s you. If you want to deepen your relationship, trust them when you’re at a low point with being out of work. This is when partnerships often work best; you pick each other up and move forward together.
As for the family? Sure you might not want to tell mom or dad to protect them from worrying and protect yourself from all the dramatics of their concern; but that concern is genuine. You might end up with a few lasagna dinners being dropped off or depending on their status, a job lead to follow-up. Some moms and dads are really good at stepping up even when their kids are in their 40’s!
Now there are others too, but I leave it to you to decide who you need on your job search team. Essentially what I’m saying is go the counter-intuitive way and reach out to people instead of shutting out people. Take care of your physical and mental health while you find yourself out of work. This unemployment won’t last forever and will pass.