Behavioural Change Brought On With Unemployment


I feel a lot of empathy for you if you’re unemployed and really motivated to find work. Having had times in my life when I’ve been out of work I know personally the ups and downs of job searching with little success until that moment of euphoria comes when you hear the words, “We’re offering you a position”.

The interesting thing about being unemployed is that it’s both the lack of employment and the lack of income that while related, force us to make changes in behaviour; to do things differently than we’ve done. It’s these changes in behaviour that elevate our stress levels. Understanding this can and does help immensely.

For starters, very few people actually look for employment when they are employed. If you are the exception, I’ll still bet you don’t go about looking for another job with the same level of intensity that you would were you entirely out of work. After all, your motivation for wanting a different job than the one you have at the moment is more for personal satisfaction or happiness, wanting to accelerate your career or to build on your current income. The work you do in your current job provides some level of income however, and so if you feel tired when you can finally turn to looking for work, you feel no hesitation to put off seriously looking for another day without guilt. There is much less urgency.

When you’re out of work completely, things change out of necessity. Suddenly you find yourself having no choice but to engage skills that might be rusty or completely foreign to you. Writing cover letters, thank you notes, lining up references, networking for leads, composing resumes, marketing yourself. You may not have had to do these things for a while and you might not find these things pleasant, so you haven’t invested any real-time in keeping up with latest trends in job searching or what employers want.

Secondly there’s the change in income or rather your change in behaviour that has to happen when your income changes. You can either keep spending like you’ve been used to and you’ll increase your personal debt, or you have to cut back and save where you can. Saving money and spending only what you have to is a change in behaviour that can add to your stress. Maybe you drop the social dinners out on Friday nights, start clipping coupons, drop the 3 coffees a day at your local café and only use the car when it’s necessary to save on fuel.

These two changes regarding your spending and having to engage in job search activities are both necessary and both things you’d typically like to avoid having to do. Here then is the reason for the stress; unwanted but necessary activity you begin to engage in.

While I acknowledge that we are unique in many ways, it is also fair to say that in many ways, most of us share similar feelings when out of work. We might feel embarrassment, shame, a lack of pride etc. and want to keep our unemployed status from friends and extended family. If we could only get a new job in a week or so we could then tell people that we’ve changed jobs. We do this of course because we want to save face, protect our ego, avoid worrying over what others might think of us and wanting to keep our relationships as they are. We worry they might re-evaluate us, think poorer of us, maybe even disassociate themselves from us. Ironic then that while worrying about possibly being disassociated with us many unemployed isolate themselves from social contact.

But I get it. When you’re unexpectedly out of work, you have really two options; get job searching immediately with intensity or give yourself a reasonable period in the form of a mental health break. This time might be good for grieving the loss of your job, venting the anger and bitterness until you can focus better on looking forward not back. You don’t want a trigger of some sort to suddenly have you spewing out venom towards a previous employer in a job interview after all.

When you’re ready to focus on looking for a new role, ask yourself as objectively as you can if you have the necessary skills to job search successfully. You might be good in your field of work, but are you as highly skilled as you need to be in marketing yourself? How are your interview skills ? Are you in uncharted waters or have you kept your résumé up-to-date?

I understand that job searching ranks pretty low on most people’s list of enjoyable activities. It’s understandable then that if you too don’t love job searching, you’ve done little to invest any time or money in honing your skills in this area. Suddenly of course, you hope the skills you do have will see you through.

You’re in a period of transition and you’ll feel a range of emotions. You’ll get frustrated, maybe even educated on how things have changed since you last looked for a job. You’ll feel demoralized perhaps and hopefully encouraged at times too. It’s the broad swings of emotions, raw and real that can catch you unprepared. These are normal when you are forced to deal with change out of necessity.

 

 

 

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You Know What You SHOULD Be Doing But…


Some people are handicapped because they need help deciding what to do next when it comes to moving forward. If someone in the know would only tell them what to do and why, they’d take action. Others though, know what they should be doing yet fail to actually do what they know they should.

Sometimes it’s not a big deal really; you go to bed with good intentions of cleaning out and organizing the garage in the morning. When the day dawns you just don’t feel like it so you don’t. It’s not a big deal because not doing it on this particular day doesn’t impact on anyone in particular. It’s been disorganized for a few weeks and one more day won’t matter. With the passing of another day – maybe even a week, you find the motivation to clean and organize and the job gets done.

However, there is a problem when you know what you should be doing, you’ve got no good reason why you aren’t doing what you need rather than want to do, and the problem of inaction persists. Take the whole unemployment and job search picture. It’s probable that you know you should be looking for work, making up those resumes and actually sending them off. You tell yourself you’re going to get at it first thing in the morning and go to bed with the best of intentions. Well done.

Upon waking up however, you don’t feel that same degree of motivation. Unlike putting off cleaning up the garage however, getting down to looking for work weighs on your mind. You get restless, your intellect tells you what you should be doing but you can’t or won’t motivate yourself to get going. You pace around the place, sit down, get back up moments later, look out the window, walk around some more, lie down but can’t sleep, get up and walk around some more. So what’s wrong?

It’s not like you don’t have the skills to do what needs doing. It’s not like you don’t know what you should be doing either. You know the potential payoff is achieving your goal of getting a job which would be good and the money of course would help. So you’ve got the incentive, skills and resources and yet, here you are, almost incapacitated and paralyzed and can’t figure out why. Meantime of course, you’re wracked with guilt because your brain just won’t shut down or move on to other thoughts. You don’t find satisfaction in reading, watching the television or whatever normally brings you comfort.

By the way, we all have days such as these. So if you have the odd day like the one I’m painting above, the experience is normal. Definitely doesn’t make it more enjoyable of course, but it is normal. Looking for work when you’re unemployed is definitely frustrating for many what with the rejections, the unanswered letters and emails, the hanging around waiting for interviews etc. The danger lies not in having the odd day like these then but rather, having day upon day of days like these. If this experience is your ‘normal’ day, this isn’t the normal experience.

It’s not likely I’m telling you anything so far you don’t know yourself. Now you might be asking yourself the classic, “What’s wrong with me?” question. In a very real way, I’m thrilled if you are. Why? Simply because if you are asking this question or some close version of it, you recognize that something if off, you’re not behaving and acting the way you’d like and most importantly you would appear in the asking of the question to be wanting to change. So to summarize, you know something is wrong, you want to be actively engaged and that requires some kind of change. Good!

Now, have you been able to – for lack of a better word – ‘fix’ things yourself? If this was an occasional thing you’d have moved on and you haven’t had you? No. So if you want to feel better and know change is needed, and if you haven’t been able to bring about the change you want on your own, it’s only logical to come to the conclusion that you need the assistance and help of someone else. This my friend isn’t a weakness. Sure years ago if you sought out help you would possibly be called weak; be told to just suck it up, man up, get over it, etc.

Many people today believe that reaching out for help is a sign of wisdom. Organizations like Bell promote a Mental Health Day which endorsed by celebrities and widely promoted. Many workplaces have Employee Assistance Programs (EAP’s) which workers can confidentially access to discuss concerns. So where to start? Starting with your Doctor is a good idea. Remember you know you want to feel differently than you do at the present so admitting there’s something wrong is okay.

If technology isn’t your thing, get out the phone book and look up counselling in your community. Walk up to the local hospital and walk past the Emergency Department and head to the Information Desk. Ask for the location of the Dietician and get some information on eating right, as what goes in plays a huge part in your physical health which you shouldn’t ignore or abuse. It’s all connected. Get out and walk. Talk.

Your wellness and good mental health are worth it. Other suggestions?

Give Up; No One Is Hiring


You might as well pack it in right now and save yourself a lot of rejection, disappointment and time; nobody is hiring. All the employers out there have all the people they need; they are entirely satisfied with the talent they’ve currently got and there’s no new businesses opening up where you live either. On top of that, some employers were actually over-staffed recently and they’ve made up their minds to let some of their people go which makes looking for a job yourself even harder. Just give up.

Oh and you were thinking maybe you’d look into getting a job for Christmas? Yeah you should think again because the malls have done all their hiring and everybody they offered a job to accepted it and is working out great being trained for the big holiday shopping season. You’re too late; next year start applying in October.

Looking at the calendar, you should probably start thinking about looking for work in January; after all it’s a new year and you can start fresh with a whole new attitude right? Actually, come to think of it, who hires anybody in January? Christmas help is no longer needed so all the businesses are actually letting their staff go and some close down so the owners can take their Florida vacations because business is so slow.

Yep, you should start thinking ahead to say, March or April when a lot of organizations typically do most of their hiring. Let’s see…that’s November, December, January, February, March; 5 months from now. 5 months? That’s like half a year almost! Who’s going to hire you after being out of work for half a year? Probably nobody; no, definitely nobody. By then your references are out of date or they will have moved and you won’t be able to track them down. Your skills will have become rusty too. Might as well forget it altogether.

Do you believe any of this? Unfortunately there are some that will word for word. Some will believe it simply because it’s on the internet so it must be true. Others will believe it because they genuinely don’t know any better. A few will believe it because an Employment Counsellor (and therefore someone who they view as credible and in-the-know) is saying it. Another group will want to believe it because they aren’t looking at all and will want to use what I’ve said up to now as their justification for not working.

What you believe becomes your truth; your experience, your reality.

Say something long enough to yourself and it can become what you truly believe and impede you from coming to experience the way things truly are. Essentially  you create your own vision of the world as you live it.

Now perhaps you’re thinking I’m nuts, I’m loony, I’m smoking something that’s disturbing my usual good thought process. Your rebuttal is,  “Ah but if it was only as easy as that I’d have a job in no time.”

You argue that had I wrote everyone is hiring, getting a job is easy, there are jobs everywhere, now is the best time to look for work etc. and people believed this, they’d all run out and get good jobs right away. Well no, I don’t believe that to be the case and I don’t believe many readers would either.

You see it’s easier to believe pessimistic news and views as real than it is to believe optimistic news and views as true.  People tend to be cautious and question the good. They say things like, “Really? I’m not so sure about that”, or “Well, I’ll have to think about that one before I believe it.” Tell the same people pessimistic news and they’ll more often agree right away with comments like, “Aha! I knew it all along” or “See I told you so, nobody is hiring and here’s a professional who agrees with me.”

Job searching can often be a drawn out frustrating experience and a large number of people looking for work do wonder where their next job will come from and how long will it take. If you’ve never questioned out loud, “Will I ever get hired?” at least once consider yourself lucky.

Don’t give up; don’t pack it in. You’ll be tempted more than once to give up and on the days when you’re really fighting and struggling with your energy and resolve, maybe you should put it aside for the day and do other things that you enjoy more. However, get back to the job search and go about it with a plan; a plan that if adhered to, removes your barriers to finding the job you want.

Look, people are hiring. Not all employees do work out so there’s always openings and not all those jobs get advertised in traditional ways. Talk with people, look into the organizations you’d like to work with and learn how they operate and what they value in the people they do hire for the jobs you are interested in.

Take a course, volunteer your skills and time, take a part-time job, learn on-line for free, brush up your keyboarding skills or upgrade your education. Be active not idle in other words.

I wonder how many readers only read the first 4 paragraphs and then stopped because it seemed so negative? Then again, I wonder how many stopped in the 5th paragraph because it started sounding positive?

 

 

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.