Welcome! A friend of mine is looking for a new job and dealing with the fear of not finding it. This resonated with me and I was inspired to share with you my own experience with unemployment and job hunting.
In 2003 I was laid off from my job. This was the year I started therapy and no, I don’t think it was any coincidence. Now, many people have been laid off in their lives, and they have, in fact, weathered the storm. I seemed to always know this. But, you see, before this, I had never been laid off or fired before. In fact, I hadn’t been without a job since I was 16 years old. You see, since I was 12 years old, I have worked at various jobs.
Work kept the demons away, specifically the ever-present demon of “not enough”. In many ways, being unemployed was worse than the end of my first marriage because I wasn’t in control of any of it. Every time I was quiet my mind would fill with worry about not working. At times felt like a lifetime of terror in the two weeks I was without work. Without the security of a job, my life felt turned upside down. Luckily I had therapists and supportive friends who not only listened to me and heard my fear, but helped me deal with it. I remember having two thoughts when I went back to work:
- I did a lot of growing during that unemployment.
- God I’m glad it’s over.
Maybe you have your own security blanket that keeps you feeling safe in the world. For me, work was that security blanket. Even when I was working I was looking, still job hunting. I was trolling like a fisherman with a full catch just running a baited line in the water with no hook, just to make sure the fish were still there.
From that time until now, I have been laid off five more times for various reasons. Each time, I was more and more able to live happily and deal with the worry and not panic. One time I was laid off, when one company was winding down and closing up, I was given a severance package. I actually decided to not look for a job for four weeks. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had, fully realizing the changes I had made. I didn’t have any panic or sense of loss during the transition, and when I started looking for a job, I found one in four weeks.
A side effect of having an extreme fear of joblessness, the courage to face your fears, and many opportunities to try it out, is you get really good at job hunting. A typical jobless day for me when I’m looking for a job goes like this:
- Wake up and be grateful that I don’t have to go to the office.
- Around 10 AM, get out my communication log and review the current status on all job leads.
- Make follow-up calls on all hot leads.
- Conduct an online job search for open positions I’m interested in.
- Research and find the phone number for their HR or recruiter.
- Call until I talk with three recruiters or HR staff.
- Confirm that they are in fact looking for someone for the position identified.
- Review with them the job description.
- Ask them the best process for sending in an application.
- Confirm all email addresses, websites, and follow-up processes.
- Document the contact and relevance of the position to my search,
It is amazing how fast even a couple of hours of job hunting per day is at finding a position. It is also hard to face the fear of hearing no with each phone call. Luckily, as I’ve experienced it typically takes a few weeks of active searching to find a position.
Today I’m actually pretty free of fear of being unemployed. I know that there will be work if I am to be working. I also know that I am not afraid of the hunt. I’m not afraid of hearing “you’re not who we are looking for”. I’m not afraid because there is nothing to be gained by being so. My best and brightest hope in job hunting is to be in the moment and be on the hunt.
I know the fear of unemployment can feel so real that joblessness can feel overwhelming. I have lived it. I also know that my fear is not reality. My prediction of catastrophe will do nothing to affect the situation. My first and best approach is to be rigorous in my desire, focus my efforts, and use techniques that I know will lead me to success.
If you are unemployed and hunting for a job and caught in a cycle of fear — fear of running out of money and fear of rejection by companies and people when you apply — I can remember my pain in that situation. I understand that fear. I invite you to just set aside your fear for small time frames and reach out for support. Gather your posse and get organized and prepared for your mission, your mission of finding that one company or person who wants to hire you.
Do not be cautious in your job hunt. Do not be afraid of the rejection of people who do not want you for their positions. Instead, know that you are on the hunt for one company/person who does want to hire you. They are out there, and the blockade to finding them is your own fear of rejection by those who don’t want you. Every “no” you hear is one step closer to hearing “yes”. You can’t get a clear answer from a blind application or resume submission. You need to find the real people behind those firewalls. You are going to find that person who wants you for their team.
God bless and let the force be with you — the force of love. Count me on your side.