I’m just going to cut the chase here and say it upfront—it can really suck to be unemployed. I don’t know what it is, but being in a perpetual state of vacationing is just draining. Add on top of that, the side effect of feeling like a complete loser and you start to get the picture of what life is like for tons of people in America today.
So how can you avoid the feelings of depression that come with being unemployed? How do you make job hunting in this economy less nerve-racking? What can you do to find jobs more quickly? you’ve got questions, I’ve got answers.
1. Statistically speaking, you should be employed
The unemployment rate in America is right around 10% so if you involuntarily got kicked out of your job, you are in the minority. Think about it this way: if I randomly pick out ten people in your neighborhood, you will be the only one that doesn’t have a job. Morbid as this may sound, it’s actually good news. It means that things aren’t as bad as they seem. If 9 out of 10 people have jobs, you still have a chance to leave the minority and successfully find employment too.
2. Apply for jobs that you’re slightly over qualified for
If you’ve been sitting on the couch for say 4 months and you finally get offered a job as a waiter—take the job. Forget about the 3.6 GPA, intramural record, and internship in Japan. Just take the job. Two things will happen: (1) you will be able to pay your electric bills (2) You will resent the job very quickly. Resentment for this purpose is good because it is very easy to convert that anger into motivation to apply for more appropriate jobs. On the other hand, if you don’t take the job as a waiter, you’re stuck feeling like a loser at home everyday. It’s so much easier to convert resentment into productivity than it is to convert depression into the same level of productivity. Nevertheless, tread carefully if you’re prone to angry outbursts.
3. Ignore Common Knowledge
I could write a book on this bullet alone but you’re probably familiar with the four nuggets of wisdom below (click for larger size):
4. Quit watching the news
I really hate to say this but staying positive while job hunting is hard. You really don’t need all that extra negativity. It’s great to stay informed and all that jazz but the only thing that the news will do for you is to remind you that a manufacturing plant just shut down in a neighboring town and the factory workers are moving in next door to you. However, I am well aware that misery loves company so if you feel encouraged by listening to the news, by all means feel free to watch. For the optimists amongst us, I say, stay away from the news.
Notice that none of these tips mention networking, schmoozing, or career fairs. My assumption is that everybody already knows to do those things. What most people don’t know, is that the job search really begins with your personal wellbeing. If the evening news brings down your spirit, why are you still watching it? If you have no idea what to do with your graduate degree, why are you getting it? If you’ve been applying for months with no luck, what can you do differently?
The answers to these questions will differ from one person to the next but whatever you do, DO NOT be discouraged and DO NOT give up! Until next time, stay motivated!