I have now been out of work for two weeks and four days (but who’s counting?). We’re getting pretty darn close to the longest period of time consecutively I’ve been out of work since college.
Maybe you’re in my club, too. Maybe you’re hoping I have all the answers for you. I’m figuring them out on the fly, kid, but we can help each other through this.
So far, it’s been clear to me that there are certain things that help make the process easier. It’s an out-of-work survival kit of sorts. Just some soft rules that can help get you through this and into that next job.
Of course, I don’t have this figured out yet. Feel free to recommend your own tips at the bottom.
1) Keep structure. Routine! This is something I’m working on. Just because you’re out of work doesn’t mean it’s now time to sleep in until 10:30, then watch daytime TV until 2:00 and skip meals. Act like you still have a job. Your job is to find a job. VP, Occupation Discovery. Maybe even dress like it and allow yourself casual Fridays (jeans!).
If necessary, make yourself a schedule. Like I said, I’m working on this, too. And I’m making it a priority immediately. But I am going to begin scheduling time for specific tasks, many of which are on this list.
2) Network. I don’t know about you, but virtually every great opportunity I’ve received came from a connection. My first real job out of college came about from a college friend. I had an in at the NBA because I know Matthew Berry. I got the Rotohog job because I partnered with them at the NBA. I got the consulting job because the wife of Rotohog’s CEO needed help. I got the ACS job because the woman who hired me at the NBA had a brother on the board who recommended the position.
Contacts. Use them. They are the people who understand you and your strengths most. They are your best advocates. And sometimes they may not lead you directly to a job, but they may have suggestions on tools and resources to help you find one.
3) Go crazy social. Use every social network of friends available to you without spreading yourself too thin. When I got the news, I shared it with my closest friends — not because I wanted sympathy but because they may be able to provide leads. When I launched this site, the vast majority of my early traffic came from my friends on Facebook sharing it to their friends who shared to their friends. Facebook is powerful. Use it.
I’ve also picked up my personal use of Twitter again. Oh, I’ve been a heavy Twitter user for some time, but when I’m not Jobless Man I tend to feel a bit guarded about using a completely public social network for personal use. But now, there’s no reason not to use it. So I’m reaching back out to my contacts there and searching out whatever leads I can.
And of course there’s LinkedIn. Dig through your contacts. Reach out to people who may be able to help. Find key contacts who are friends of friends you don’t know and ask for an introduction. If you build a site like mine, share it to relevant groups on LinkedIn. Don’t feel bad for “overdoing it.” If you’re not a salesy type like me, learn to be okay with selling yourself. Your personal brand is now your only product.
4) Set aside time to relax. Looking for a job is stressful. If you’re anything like me, though, some of your best ideas come to you while you’re not in front of a computer or on your phone. You need that time to unwind. It’s good for your brain and it’s good for your health. It’s also good for productivity.
I plan to set aside 10 minutes every few hours to do nothing. Absolutely nothing.
5) Find a physical release (GET OUT OF THE HOUSE!) For me, it’s been running. I have never been a runner. But a couple of weeks before I was laid off, I started to get into it. Now, it’s something I look forward to. It’s a way to get my mind off of things and sweat out my day. And so far it seems I do my best running when I’ve got some stuff to sort through.
Run, walk, run some errands, something. Whatever it is, just get out of the house. If you stay locked up in your house all day with your thoughts, you’ll drive yourself crazy.
If you want to get into running, I recommend DailyMile for an online community and RunKeeper (Pro or free version) for your phone. I’m a competitive person, so it’s good to keep track of what I’m doing and it’s also nice to have a community of others to “run with.”
6) Do stuff that makes you feel good, and don’t feel guilty about it. Always set aside some time to do something that makes you happy. Eat a bowl of ice cream. Play baseball with the kids. Watch your favorite movie. Read a book. You should probably be budget conscious during this time, but it doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Just don’t sit in front of a computer and on your phone all day, stressing yourself out.
Whatever it is, find time to enjoy yourself and without guilt. Don’t spend the time feeling like you should be looking for a job. Get your mind off of it for a while by enjoying yourself.
7) Be realistic. The hardest part for me that I have to accept is that I can’t do everything today. I joke that I’m busier without a job than I was with one, and to a point that’s very true. When you’re in desperation mode to provide for your family, there are a million and one ways that could lead you to that next job. You can’t do them all. Pick a few per day, and accept that it’s okay that you’ll get to the rest some other day.
8) Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Do everything you can to get that job. Exhaust your resources. But if it doesn’t come immediately and things get tight, it’s okay. You’re doing everything you can do. As long as you stay focused, that gig will come. And even if your perfect gig doesn’t come right away, something will. The perfect gig may have to wait.
Putting too much pressure on yourself is counterproductive. When you do this, your brain is scattered, you’re stressed and you’ll perform poorly under pressure once you get to show what you’ve got. Play the cards you’ve got. If they win, great. If they lose, play another round.
When you provide for others, it’s easy to suffocate yourself with pressure. It doesn’t help. Be satisfied with the best you can do. That job will come when it comes.
9) Don’t be ashamed. This is admittedly the hardest for me. And it’s just as difficult to even list here. It may be even more important for men as I know we tend to have a difficulty dealing with failure, expectations, feelings… you know.
But understand you are one of many during these difficult economic times to be out of work. We’re quick to think those who lose their jobs deserve it. Those who are looking for work lack skills. It’s simply not true. Not these days.
9a) Be honest with yourself and those close to you. Along those lines, don’t feel the need to keep your predicament to yourself or always put on a strong face, particularly around family and those who could help. Sure, protect the kids. But this ain’t easy. Make sure you have someone to talk to about it. Spouse, family member, close friend, whatever. It doesn’t mean you’re spilling your guts on Facebook (please don’t do that). Just make sure you have an outlet to keep you from going nuts.
10) Remember what’s important. Whether you’re providing just for yourself or a family of five like me, it’s important to remember what’s important. Temporary changes in lifestyle will undoubtedly be necessary. And there’s always a possibility that more significant changes will need to be made in the future. But in the end, the material stuff doesn’t matter. You have your health, your family, your friends. Enjoy it!
Your world is thrown out of whack when you lose your job. Your routine is thrown off completely. But pick yourself up and create a new routine that can help keep you productive daily.
Do everything you can to get that next job. Use your contacts, network, talk to new people. But your jobless survival has just as much to do with taking care of yourself physically and mentally as well.
Be positive, stay healthy, and be the best VP of Occupation Discovery possible!
Do you have any tips of your own? Share them below!