Unemployment Isn’t Horrible For Everyone – Attitude Check

Is this how the job search feels?I recently saw an e-mail from a beat-up professional in transition and I had to respond. The gist of his e-mail was that he is frustrated in his job search, it’s not as easy as it should be, and people aren’t responding to his messages the way they should. My reply empathizes with him:

Dan just hit one of my sore spots. I am a generalist also. And I got laid off in a “hot job market,” a “job seeker’s market.”

And if I wanted to make $8/hour there were so many opportunities! All I had to do was either work 4 full-time restaurant jobs, or sell all my stuff, buy a cardboard box and have the kids beg while I worked at all these places.

I don’t care what economists say about how the US is doing – if you are an unemployed professional IT SUCKS. And the unemployment rate means jack when you can’t get a job.

I totally agree with Dan’s message – be nice. Be nice to the unemployed – help them out. Coach them, counsel them, introduce them. It’s likely not their fault that they are jobless, and it’s likely that you’ll be there soon enough.

Okay, off my soapbox here.

I expected to get flamed a little on the forum but I was surprised to have people weigh in and support what I was saying. I’m sure the supporters are people who have been in transition and were treated like dirt.

But I did have a good friend e-mail me off-list and tell me something different:

The other day when you “got on your forum soapbox” about how being out of a job sucks, I wanted to jump on that one and say, “um, no it doesn’t.” Luckily, I exercised restraint so that my fellow posters could unload their pain without interruption from someone like me who, for the most part, is actually having a good time at it 😉

I feel like a politician but I have to say, I take both sides! Yes it does suck – but there are things that you can do to make it a very exciting, refreshing time! Here are some ideas that I’ve picked up over the last year:

  1. Manage your physical health – I sat in a chair 10 hours a day working on my computer, looking for a job. This was bad for my body – I should have forced myself to at least walk a mile a day, or do a few sets of pushups, etc. I believe that doing this would have helped me manage my emotions better.
  2. Manage your family relationships – jobs come and go. Network contacts even come and go. But your family relations are critical and you need to invest in your spouse and kids (if you have them), parents, cousins, etc. that are worried about you, and perhaps scared of the uncertainty. If nothing else, make time to take special walks with your kids (individually) to talk, and take your wife out on a date once a week.
  3. Learn, expand, grow – I think one of the reasons Nadine Turner has enjoyed this transition is because she threw herself into a new area (web 2.0, personal branding, search engine optimization) and really wanted to learn about it. Instead of just reading about it, she put it to the test. When she goes into her new job she will take this new knowledge with her, which will only make her more effective (and add to her self confidence).
  4. Network – If you don’t believe me you aren’t networking right. My favorite way to network is to have lunch with someone and really get to know them. You can figure out what works for you – but once you start to network the right way you will know what I mean. Just this morning I got an e-mail from Jeroen Latour who said “Man, this networking thing is ADDICTING!” Jeroen is networking the right way!
  5. Get a coach – Look, I’m a smart guy – I have two degrees and have had a great career. I’m creative and clever. But this is an emotional time. There is no way that I could come up to speed on the things that I needed to, and do it the right way. A coach gives you perspective and accountability – two things that are absolutely critical (well, unless you have a two year severance package).

Is it going to take time and effort to do this stuff? Yes. But I bet it will make you a better job seeker and when your transition ends you will be able to say you “actually had a good time” during your transition.

What works for you? What do you do (or recommend) to make the transition a positive experience?

8 thoughts on “Unemployment Isn’t Horrible For Everyone – Attitude Check”

  1. I love unemployment. Okay, not the economic reality of it, but the change opportunity.

    The last two times I was unemployed for about 2 months each, I had a great time. During the first one, I took a mini-vacation and spent a lot of time just chilling. The second time, I started The Hundred Dollar Business and worked my guts out at the mall– also had a good time.

    The best thing about unemployment is that you’re no longer attached to that job you don’t like… that doesn’t pay you well enough, with that boss you can’t stand, the aggravating coworkers, or the field of work that bores you silly.

    What an opportunity to get in tune with what you’ve been wanting to do!

  2. I recently had a friend that was unemployed and down in the dumps. He was getting discouraged and through his hands up. Someone told him about the contagious give concept, see http://www.TheContagiousGiver.com so he decided to stop worrying and give.

    He did and within two weesk was offered a job with a lot more pay than he was previously making. He tells me he is now “giving” more than he had in his entire life.

    You reap that which you sow. Worry reaps aniexty and giving reaps doors opening. Believe it or not.

  3. A lot of times the forced change is a blessing for people. The key is learning and staying tuned in to your environment, culture and skills to be competitive now and later.
    I started the Personal Board of Advisors online to help people address the balance and success as mentioned in this post. That is why we have published materials and support covering achievement in personal finance, wellness and time management, career and business strategy. It is great for those on the market, but the smart thing to do is get in while all is well!!! Like being a connector would!

  4. Thanks for the nod Jason. Lest anyone think I am one of those eternally bubbly look-on-the-brightside types, I want to say that I’m not 🙂 The reason I enjoyed being out of work is because it afforded me precious time to re-invent myself and to try to beat the job-seeking process at it’s own game. I did it and have accepted a great offer after a couple of weeks out of work! But I didn’ do this alone, I met friendly experts, like Jason along the way that helped me construct my plan. What’s cool is that ANYONE can do this…you just have to expose yourself to the right groups and tools, like JibberJobber, etc. which makes taking control of your career…your destiny, fun!

    Nadine Turner

  5. Jason,

    Having just completed a job search I can truthfully say that if it wasn’t so serious the job search process really is fun. Yes being out of work sucks. And yes it is a cliche to call it an “opportunity”. However, it really is an opportunity. It is an opportunity to discover what is important to you and what you want to do. Jeroen Latour is absolutely right, networking is addicting and fun.

    To quote another cliche “When all you have is lemons, make lemonade”. Being out of work sucks but make the most of it, Not all of it is bad so emphasize the positive. It will reflect in your attitue and that also happens to be a critical factor in finding a new job.


  6. Jason,

    Its great to see some of these comments on here. I have been in transition for several months and while I don’t enjoy the economics of it, I have really enjoyed all the learning. There was a culture mis-match at my last position and my leaving has enabled me to do some real thinking about what is important, make some decisions about what I am looking for and meet some great folks, although most of them virtually.

    The networking is addictive and I am convinced that what I have learned will make me a better leader, and will enhance my career long term. I have kept this attitude throughout the process, I think it has been a key to making the progress I have made.

    Thanks for having a great blog.

  7. I agree unemployment can be an opportunity, however I am 57 years old and have been searching now for about 9-10 months. I do not have health insurance as I can not afford it. My husband is disabled so that leaves very little. It is harder to get back in the older you are..( at least that seems to be case for me)
    I have called staffing agencies and am hearing how many people are applying for the same job.

    I am trying to be optimistic but the more time that goes by and no work the harder that is getting to be.

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