It’s not fun and quite honestly, it is one of the most frustrating experiences ever.
It will stretch you, bend you, compress you, pinch you…Ultimately it will test you!
Your bank account will encourage you to go on diets, you never saw in your future.
Generally speaking, lean living will be your modus operandi.
On the upside, friends would complement you on how great you look. We’d both know that you have nothing but unemployment to thank, for with low income, comes great portion controlling.
You, my friend have now become a Professional Portion Controller Nutritionist.
Look what I did there?… I gave you a job. You actually have a job!
Don’t beat yourself up. You are not good, for nothing. Infact, you are learning life skills.
Now let me teach you how to be brilliantly unemployed.
I think I have earned the right to speak up on this issue.
This wasn’t my first time being unemployed. I had been unemployed after my undergraduate degree for a total of 7 months…then again, after my MBA for 10 months and just recently for 8 months. That’s a total of 25 months (2 years, 1 month)
The first 2 experiences, I absolutely HATED.
By the third time, I had mastered a few skills.
Was it easy?
Nope! Absolutely not! It was tough, depressing and downright frustrating.
Trading Economics shows that Canada’s unemployment rate increased to 7.2% in January 2016 from a steady 7.1% for two consecutive months. This report states that this is the highest reading since December 2013. No surprise there!
I had friends in Alberta losing their jobs due to the oil collapse. Some were returning to school, forced inspired to build businesses or returned to lower wage-paying jobs. The unemployment rate increase in Alberta was insane. With a 7.4% unemployment rate, which is the highest it’s been since February 1996, I feel the need to discuss my lessons with any and everyone who’s interested.
So here goes…
To combat the horrors of unemployment, it starts with having a plan.
In my case, before my contract expired, I had started seeking other opportunities, as I had made up my mind not to remain within a role I felt underutilized my capacity. In order to do this, the very first thing was to cut back on expenses. So that’s what I did! I had one cupcake a day instead of two and saw movies only on cheap Tuesdays…:)
Having been through the roller coaster of being in and out of jobs due to my choice to go back to school or take on contract work, I quickly realized that being capable is not job security. Even if a job would always be there, your rate of pay is unlikely to increase at the same rate of inflation or at the same pace of your interests and hobbies.
This brings me to …
Rule #1: FUNDS – Make sure you have a minimum of 3 months’ salary saved up. These funds are aside from investments and other emergency funds. This is specifically for time away from work. Why?
- It provides you with peace of mind while you search for a new job or a job you actually like. Especially if you are hoping for a career change, you don’t want to jump at just any offer or sell your services at a shameful discount, because you’re broke.
- It gives you provision for retail therapy if you absolutely need it.
I know I did!
After getting a constant flow of “Sorry you suck and we don’t want you”
rejection emails, I needed something to make me feel good. So….SHOPPPINNGGG!
- It allows you to go on those dates with friends. Friends who have never been unemployed for an extended period of time will never understand why you can’t come out to dinner with them. The more you say, “I’m looking for a job” or “I’m broke”, the more confused they get and the lazier you sound.
So what then do you need to do?
You need to go out with them. When you do, you don’t want to seem like a cheapskate, so get prepared to order more than water. The excuse of, “I already ate” will always look cheap, even if you’ve explained how broke you are. It’s weird, I know but it’s true.
Rule #2: FACTS – Gather the facts!
My case was a little peculiar, I worked for money and not for passion so best believe Indeed, Linkedin and I have been riding it out for a while now. I’d say we were even best friends, except, I don’t think they liked me very much. I mean what good friend fills your inbox with steady disappointment letters about how bad you are and why nobody wants you?
Never minding that, I kept them close.
Instead of just applying to jobs
and stalking and spamming recruiters, I decided to engage in more deliberate and calculated networking.
Networking is the very best way to get a job. Did you hear me? Networking is the very best way to get the job you want!
Growing up, I was made to believe that people were successful because of who they knew. At the time, I thought that was ridiculous. If I had a great resume, was great at interviews and could prove the awesomeness of my work ethic, what reason did anyone have not to hire me? ABSOLUTELY NONE! Right?
If you continue with that mindset, especially in this economy, you will be poor, hungry and starve to death it may not be to your advantage. What I’m trying to say is that it pays to understand that people are more likely to hire those they know and love over those that have a 4.0 GPA from a “mushroom” university. I can say that because I may or may not have gone to one of those.
If your name is extremely long with say…13 or more characters, recruiters may shy away from you because they aren’t sure that you speak English. (On a sidenote, you might want to shorten that name on your resume)
Ok! Maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit but truthfully, you want powerful people to know your name stalk them try to connect with them on LinkedIn and schedule a meeting.
During my 8 months off, I was determined to meet with CEO’s and Senior Executives of various companies and industries of interest. So I did. My meetings helped me create a path that made me thankful for the job applications that didn’t fetch me any interviews or callbacks. As part of my networking, I was successful in learning about companies that appeared nice on the outside but were terrible on the inside. I also was fortunate to understand why certain career paths
would have turned out to be my death sentence may not have been the best for me.
Spend time gathering the facts.
Create a ‘9 – 5’ work schedule that incorporates coffee dates and strategic meetings to discuss your career goals.
Rule #3: Keep your FRIENDS AND FAMILY close. They make a huge difference in the kind of experience you have while you’re unemployed. Make sure the company you keep is supportive and strong. These are the people who would motivate you, guide you and remind you that you are not completely useless.
Rule #4: Have FAITH. I’ve put faith as #4 but honestly, it should be up there as #1.
If I put it as #1, you probably wouldn’t read this, thinking this is a wack religious post I guess I’m just too lazy to go back up and edit it. Having faith was my greatest strength. By putting God first in all that I did, I found it easier to do and wasn’t as frustrated as I was the other two times, because everyday was more encouraging than the last even though my rejection letters increased.
Rule #5: Have FUN. Make time out to have fun. Staying indoors all day is depressing. You begin to forget the dates and end up with MonTuesWedThursFri. That’s a 120 hour day. It’s way too long. Don’t do it! Volunteer for causes of interests. Do things! There are free and cheap activities that you can do just to get your mind off unemployment. Do them!
Like what, Dami?
Go to the park, watch a movie on Tuesday, visit friends, host a potluck and games night, try out goodlife fitness for a week (the Zumba classes are great and it’s free for that week)…
Do something that would add value to your life!
Lastly, befriend Groupon
Check out my Unemployed documentary here