Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Assorted thoughts on surviving unemployment

I had hoped that this point in the year I’d be able to be writing articles with titles like “How to make the most of great opportunities at work” or  “The ten things I love most about my job.” Alas, not to be. Well, not yet at least. I’ve found myself unemployed longer than I expected. It has definitely been a more challenging journey than I anticipated. Given that unemployment is an unfortunately common experience, I figured it would be worth sharing some of what I’ve learned to hopefully make it a little less challenging for others.
  • Keep learning- Parts of the job hunting process are a bit monotonous. That is easier to handle if you are keeping your brain active some other way. Read, take an online course or learn a challenging new hobby. Your mental health will be better as a result and you might find the inspiration rubs off on your job hunting efforts.
  • Don’t let good habits go- Not having the structure that employment provides can make it easier to become lax on things like spiritual disciplines or exercise. You need to be really deliberate about things that matter to you.
  • Spreadsheets are your friend- If you have multiple job applications on the go, it is easy for them to start to blur a bit in your mind. Keeping organised spreadsheets about your progress on each application can make it much easier to keep track of everything.
  • Ask people to pray for you- Yes, it can feel a bit lame asking your friends to pray for your job hunting efforts week after week. But, it is surprisingly encouraging when they do and who knows how God might choose to answer those prayers.
  • Be careful of the comparisons game- It is easy to slip into pondering why other people have found work or have made career advances and you haven’t. While there is legitimate things to be learned from career moves others have made, it can easily slip into negativity or envy. Be careful to keep it positive.
  • Try to find something positive in failed attempts- This one is hard because it can be so very disappointing to interview for a great job and not be the one chosen. But even though you didn’t get the job, an unsuccessful interview has still been a good chance to learn more about the company/industry, get better at interviewing and maybe meet some interesting people.

If you are (or have been) unemployed, what did you learn from it?