While Wall Street claims that the recession has run its’ course, the jobless rate continues to hover at more than 10 percent and millions of people are experiencing prolonged unemployment. In fact, in a recent report put out by Rutgers University entitled “No End in Sight: The Agony of Prolonged Unemployment,” experts state that economic improvements have had little to no positive effects on those still searching for work. Eight in ten people who lost their job in the recession have yet to find a new one, and those that have found work have been forced to take a pay cut, work without benefits or take a job they don’t like.
Unemployment itself is bad enough and prolonged unemployment, described as those who have been searching for more than 6 months, is quite simply put… a nightmare of the very worst kind. People have lost their homes, sold valuable possession to make ends meet, borrowed money from friends, dipped into their retirement funds, overlooked medical care and the list goes on and on.
Let’s not forget to mention the physical and emotional toll that joblessness takes on a human being. Insomnia is on the rise, and it goes without saying that stress levels are too. Anxiety, anger and depression are all results of this economic debacle the world is facing.
In fact, as you read this, you might even be nodding in concurrence because of your own harrowing experience or that of a friend or relative.
Those of us who are out of work wonder if we will ever find another job again. We wonder “what happened? I was so good at my job.” But then, after 6, 7 months, even a year without a job… a year of sending out resumes into the world wide web to seemingly anonymous employers, of waiting for those anonymous employers to respond, a year of rejection emails… a year of trying to hold your head up high as you walk to your mailbox anxiously awaiting your next unemployment check (of course, that’s only if you’ve been approved for an extension)… we can’t help but wonder “was I really good at my job?” “Will I ever get hired again?” “Do I even want to continue working in that field?”
And that brings me to my point… as difficult and challenging as unemployment – of any amount of time – is… could this also be a chance to re-evaluate your career path? To re-invent yourself?
In an article I wrote a few months back, “The Upside of the Economic Downturn: Why Being Unemployed Isn’t So Bad” I asked: Is this a chance at your dream???
Think about your life before your first job. What was your dream? Not your goal or your plans, but your dream… that far away, far-fetched idea that you spent late nights discussing with your college buddies. Did you dream of owning your own business? Or maybe you wanted to become a writer, nurse, lawyer, or singer?
There are certainly a lot of factors involved in making the decision to reinvent oneself. And it is a personal decision that one must make oneself. This piece has not been written to suggest that you neglect your responsibilities of paying bills, caring for your children or finding a job. But, rather, it was written to suggest that in the 8 hours a day you spend looking for that job, I think at least 60 minutes could be taken to work on achieving your dreams as well.
Here are a few tips to help start the re-inventing process:
- Stop thinking of yourself as being unemployed. Make a personal affirmation to convince yourself that you are not unemployed, but taking another path towards a different career. When someone asks you, “What do you do for work”… Instead of telling them you don’t work, tell them what you want to be doing, what you will be doing. I was in the fashion industry for 10 years before losing my job. I’ve been unemployed for a full year and in this time; I have rediscovered my passion for writing. It is still challenging for me, when asked, to answer someone that I am writing rather than answering that I am not working. But, the more you speak the positive; surely the more you believe it.
- Redesign your resume. Evaluate your resume and redesign it to highlight the skills you already possess for this new field of interest. For instance, my experience and major responsibilities in the garment business were focused on merchandising and trend spotting, but I also wrote all types of reports from analytical ones to trend and color reports. These skills are now listed first on my resume. I bet if you really look at your former job experience, you will find a hint of your college career dreams hidden in there.
- Get a part time job, volunteer or do freelance work in this new field. If you have always been an accountant, but have forever dreamed of being a nurse… then why not volunteer at a hospital while researching what is required of you to become a nurse? Or have you always wanted to act? There are always casting calls for extras. And there are boundless freelance writing gigs posted daily on the internet.
- Take a class. An old colleague of mine has just entered her second year of law school. I am looking into brushing up my writing techniques and researching classes in the area. How about a local program that focuses on entrepreneurship if what you want is to run your own business.
And lastly, but most importantly:
- Believe in yourself. Being out of work takes a toll on our self confidence, but we must remind ourselves of all of our personal accomplishments. We were good at our jobs, in fact we were great! We achieved sales goals, beat deadlines, impressed bosses and even ourselves. And we can do it again.
Again, I’m not suggesting you stop looking for a job and pick up your paint brushes, head to the beach and seek your inner Picasso while your bills stack up and your kids wait for you at the dinner table, but if you are going to take a pay cut, or a job with no benefits, rather than it be a job that you hate… why not look for a job that can get you just that much closer to achieving that far-fetched college dream! As Bob Dylan says, “a person is a success if they wake up in the morning and gets to bed at night and in between does what he wants to do.”
Melisa Verrecchia is a freelance writer and former fashion diva. She is also co-writing a book entitled: “Unemployed: The Single Girl’s Guide to Getting By in Los Angeles.”
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