What to expect when you are unemployed?
Phase 1 Bewildered
You just found yourself downsized. Your reaction is one of anxiety and you wonder how you are going to cope. You may encounter a myriad of emotions from angry to shock. Are you going to tell your significant other? Are you one that continues to pretend working while spending the day in a coffee shop? Are you in shock, so numb that you don’t have any emotion at all? Are you worried about your finances; you just bought a new house and you don’t know how to meet your payments?
These are legitimate concerns and are usually the first reaction we have. To sum up the previous paragraph, “How am I going to cope?”
Phase 2 Excited
Suddenly things don’t look too bad. You are given a pretty decent severance package and now you know you are going to be good for another year or two. (Before signing though you may wish to bring the agreement to a labor lawyer just to make sure your rights are being respected or that your interpretation is the right one. It is money well spent.
This phase actually brings some optimism. You are thinking that over the years, you have accumulated a lot of knowledge and skills. Perhaps, now that you have some freedom you can actually get a job that you love. You may want to start up your own business as a cabinet maker or start your own coffee shop or clothing store. Now things are looking brighter and you are getting a much better idea of how this unemployment may work out. You truly look at this as a transition.
You are in a happy place, your expression may be, “Oh boy, I can start fresh.”
Phase 3 Fear
Now that you have made up your mind what to do, then the next thing is to start. You write resumes and apply to ads but you are not getting the responses you thought you would. In fact, you may not be getting any responses at all. You have decided to build Muskoka Chairs and do some kitchen cabinet installations. How are you going to get your name out there? Where do I have to go to set myself up as a company? Do I need to set up as a corporation, a Limited Liability Company or just a sole proprietorship? And, there are several more ways to go. All this can seem daunting and overwhelming.
Now you start to doubt yourself. “Maybe I’m not as good as I thought I was. After all, I’m not getting the response I thought I would.” “I can’t really start a business, I’m better off working for someone else.”
Now you may be in the grip of fear. “How will I manage?”
Phase 4 Denial
You start to keep yourself busy, not with writing or revamping your resume; not with attempting to create a network around you, but housework, those projects that have been eluding you while you are working. You have forgotten that you have a job — finding work. These symptoms mean you are in denial of being unemployed. If only people would stop bugging you and being a constant reminder that you don’t have a real job. You maybe haven’t told anyone yet that you are out of work and still hanging out at the coffee shop.
Phase 5 Anger
You feel threatened that you are no longer able to do what you had thought you were capable of. You slide into anger that the company let you go. Underneath it all, you may start to seethe when family members say things like, “It will be okay.”, or “Do you have any prospects in mind?” Of course, there are always those that say, “Charlie was out of work for 13 months before he found a job;” as though that is somehow supposed to make you feel better. There is no end to the number of people that want to give you advice and have no idea how you are really feeling or coping.
“Why don’t they just all go away?”
Phase 6 Guilt
Now you are questioning yourself. Thus far, you have not received the attention you thought would come your way. “Maybe they were right in letting me go.” “I think I may have had a higher opinion of myself than I should have.” “Although I like doing carpentry it seems as though no one likes what I do, because I can’t get any work.”
“This is really hopeless, I have another ten years to go before retiring. Perhaps I should go down to the employment office and see what they have. I have read every ad in the paper and I can’t believe that they are not hiring my profession. I started in General Labour when I got out of school, maybe I can get something in that line of work. Even though I have an engineering degree, I know the city well enough, I can become a taxi driver. There will be enough money and with a few tips, I might just be able to make as much as I used to”.
Phase 7 Disillusionment
Here is where you question all those rejections. “I can’t understand why people can’t see how good I am”. “How do I get in front of them?” “If only I can get in to see them, I stand a chance” “Everyone thought highly of me at my last job, yet here I am unemployed for a couple of months and nothing is happening.”
“No one is going to hire me.”
Phase 8 Hostility
By God, you are going to make this work if it kills you. You have hostile aggression towards getting work. You become the child or angry adult that is going to make a round peg fit into a square hole even if it is the last thing you do. Some people will go so far as to take a drill and round out the hole so to speak. That’s akin to taking a job you hate or know nothing about just so you can say you have a job.
Hostility never works and you know it. It is only when relaxed, you are able to achieve your goal.
Phase 9 Depression
You are now not communicating with your friends regularly. You watch television all day. After all, what’s the use? You busy yourself with a computer or social media information. You’re not engaged in any particular activity but become somewhat of an observer. Suddenly you are too busy to look for work. At least that is what you tell yourself as you slide deeper into depression. You may start to eat more or drink more, all to numb that feeling of failure. You really are a failure and no one can tell you any different. After all, you have proof. You can’t even get a job. You may even get to the point where you can’t be bothered dressing. Arguments may erupt with family members that ask what you have done all day and you have no real answer, so you lie or get angry in hopes your family will leave you alone. The internet becomes your best friend, but nothing is related to employment.
Phase 10 Acceptance
Acceptance may start off gradually. Your first step is to notice you are in a depressed state. You start to recognize the signs. You may not know how to get out of the predicament you are in, but knowing you are there, you can now share it with your partner and friends. They may have some insight. They may suggest you to focus and start seeing the possibilities instead of all the things that didn’t work. You start by writing down some of the things you are good at. What was it that your peers or team leader said about your good work qualities. Write down what you liked most about your jobs. Write down several of your successes. See you do have them. You are starting to take responsibility for yourself. You know you have skills.
If you want to get back into the corporate world, or you want to be in a smaller company start looking for companies that are the size you are interested in. Make a list of a several companies that you want to work in. You found production work to be far too stressful, although the aspects you liked, such as teaching others, or developing leadership skills you may have learned over the years have value. You recognize that what you really like to be is a training manager, where you can develop corporate training.
What about the resume? Perhaps it is time to thing differently. Since the resume is your marketing tool, why not think about creating a marketing letter instead? After all, you want to get in the door so you can present your case.
As an independent contractor, you may wish to have a series of business cards printed along with some brochures of what you specialize in, with pictures of work you have done in the past. Start by distributing them in your neighbourhood. If you can afford it, place ads in local newspapers. Appeal to what people think of most. The value of a house increases with remodelled kitchens and bathrooms. Look for people listing their houses for sale; visit them and explain how you can increase the value of their sale. Ask if they know of anyone else that may be interested in home renovations.
Energy and optimism start to return
Phase 11 Moving Forward
There is light at the end of the tunnel. You are no longer desperate. You now have a clearer focus on what you are doing. You are prepared. You have made several points that you can talk to, to make your case. You have organized your thoughts in a “STAR” format. That is, you have articulated your Situation or supplied the context. You can tell them the Tasks that you did to achieve your success in a given area. Tell them about the Actions you took in order to arrive at your particular situation that allowed you to attain your success. Finally, let them know the Results you achieved.
You are starting to build a network. As a result of having identified some companies you might like to work for, you researched some of the senior management. Let’s go with the notion that you would like to become a trainer. You have targeted companies that you may wish to work for. You also found the person you most likely would be reporting to if you worked for the company. Send them a letter, an email or call them. Tell them you are interested in training and would like their perspective on what they see is important form their point of view. Offer to buy them a coffee for their troubles. You are aware that networking is not about getting a job, but building relationships and intel. All that will give you more confidence. It also doesn’t make you appear desperate. You can come into the situation confident that you are only gathering information. Subsequently, you stay in touch and perhaps build a friendship along the way. If they need someone, they may ask you first as they know you and by now also know your capabilities. Even if you have not had much success in attaining a job, you have positioned yourself to get there. Check out LinkedIn and see who is connected to those you already know. Use your new-found contacts to make more contacts. Join a professional association to create an even bigger network.
Phase 12 The End of the Journey
You should be well on your way. We at Career1 can help with any option you need help with. Feel free to contact us.