Anyone who's been in this situation or is in this situation right now will tell you that it is, hands down, the worst situation you can be in at this point in time. Redundancy, downsize, dismissal, change of career, relocation - whatever the situation is, if you don't have a job right now, you're probably feeling like your world is coming crashing down around you. Now is NOT the time to implode or break down. You need to keep it together and start making things happen for you. You need to be smart.
We are experiencing the worst economic climate in history. And it's not going to get better any time soon. I have friends who have been in exactly the same situation and judging from their own experiences, their sense of urgency and panic was immediately apparent. The early optimism and self-reassurance that came with the confidence of being able to quickly find alternative employment soon evaporated and was quickly replaced by feelings of despair despite the years of experience, knowledge and skills they'd gained. I've been told many times that this feeling of sheer desperation in the face of mounting bills and expenses was the worst feeling they had ever experienced.
These were experienced professionals at the top of their game and yet they seemed to run into difficulties and dead ends at every turn. "Why is this so difficult?" they would ask. It was hard enough for them to find vacancies in their fields and even when they did they were lucky if their applications were acknowledged, let alone passed for interview. Everything was just taking too long. They felt isolated, stressed out and didn't know which way to turn. The problem was that employers were (and still are) running scared due to the economic downturn and no one was hiring.
They felt angry. Angry because they couldn't understand why it was happening to them and why they were finding it so hard to find another job. They felt that their salary-earning friends were sympathetic up to a point, but not much help afterwards. They were annoyed that others didn't really understand what they were going through and didn't want to hear about their situation. The "Oh don't worry, I'm sure something will turn up..." speech from friends and family soon became extremely irritating, especially having to hear it seven months after losing their job.
Based on their experiences I hope no one ever has to go through being unemployed, however if you do find yourself in this situation, the following tips may help:
1. Check your entitlements - As soon as you become unemployed, get straight on to your local benefits agency and apply for unemployment allowance or benefit. The amount you get will probably be nowhere near the amount you need to survive, but it's better than nothing and they tend to pay you only from the date of your application. Do not waste time in doing this and do not avoid applying because you think you will find a job quickly.
2. Notify your creditors - Banks, retail stores, mortgage lenders etc. If you owe any amount of money on credit cards, loans, store cards, hire purchase finance agreements etc. that you know you're going to struggle with, notify them immediately. Chances are they won't even give you the time of day, however at least you will have shown that you're proactive in dealing with your finances.
3. Delegate your job hunt - Register with as many recruitment agencies as you can. Send in resumes, make yourself known to them, tell them exactly what type of job you want and let them do all the hard work. Get to know them on a first name basis and contact them every other day (at least) and pester them to get you re-employed. Consider other fields or even temporary work to help you get back on your feet.
4. Set yourself job hunting goals- Setting goals will give you something to focus on and will stop you from becoming lazy. Ensure that you apply for a certain number of jobs per day. Send off speculative resumes. Follow up your applications if you don't hear back from them. Keeping a record will help as you'll have hard evidence of your commitment to getting out of the mire.
5. Be careful of the press- Newspapers make money by selling shocking stories. Every day right now there seems to be news of yet more redundancies and job losses due to more companies going bust or reducing headcount. That means even more people looking for even fewer jobs. You could be forgiven for not even bothering, but you must take action as your livelihood depends on it. Don't let the media contribute to your anxiety.
6. You still have a life- Getting another job is probably all you're thinking about right now, but remember you still have a life outside work. There's nothing wrong with going out with friends, eating out, catching a movie or doing the things you used to do. Don't feel guilty about enjoying yourself just because you don't have a job. Remember, life is too short.
7. Don't dwell on rejection- Due to some, strange law of nature, I've found that getting a first job seemed to be relatively easy. However when it came down to getting another job in the same field which required the same skills and having gained years of experience with some big names - it seemed to be impossible! My friends were getting more rejections than hot dinners. Don't take rejection personally. Consider everything as a learning curve no matter how experienced you are. Always ask for feedback to see why you were rejected, even though you couldn't care less about an employer that's just rejected your application.
Finally, remember that although your situation is highly depressing, you're not the only one in this situation right now. There are many other people worse off than you and they're all still in the fight. Keep your chin up, smile and carry on hunting!
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