There’s a Light at the End Of the Jobless Tunnel

When you’ve been jobless for any length of time, the light at the end of the tunnel could be a freight train coming the other way. That’s often the mindset of someone who’s endured weeks of the gut-wrenching, paralyzing condition called unemployment.

Unemployment is a state of mind. It’s relentless pain and frustration that’s with us every waking moment. It seeps into every facet of our life. It affects our marriage, relationships with our children and friends, and it affects our sleeping habits. It literally envelops us and renders us incapable of making simple decisions. We’ve been thrust into a new world and are clueless as to what to do and how to do it.

We’re scared and can’t show it. We’ve been transformed from a contributing mature adult to a confused, unwanted castaway.

Job hunt long enough and a change takes place. This isn’t something that jumps out and hits us between the eyes. It’s subtle and paralyzing. It manifests itself by our suddenly questioning ourselves in our daily routine.

Things that were once second nature now seem difficult or almost impossible. “Whom do I call at that company?” and “What shall I do this afternoon?” are major issues. We go home and wait for a returned phone call. We know down deep how important getting a phone call has become. Six months ago a return phone call meant nothing.

While we’ve lost a job, we gained new insights. Our antennae are up and we see, hear and notice everything. We can spot a phony in 10 seconds.

We also become fragile. The slightest thing that looks like a rejection can unnerve us. But we must maintain that steadfast appearance of a professional going about our business of looking for a job. We know we’re no longer in the club and we’ll do anything to get back into it.

We get rejection from everywhere. The phone. The resume. The interview. Family and friends — just by their looks and body language. We’re alone. Our world consists of people who are working and don’t understand. We can’t communicate with them. They don’t speak our language. We want to scream: “Doesn’t anyone know the pain I’m in?”

Our closest friends and family seem to think we know what we’re doing. But we don’t have a clue. We’re living a lie. We’re not street-smart in this land called unemployment. We got here through no fault of our own, in most cases by way of downsizing, reorganization or mergers.

We find ourselves in places like the supermarket at unusual hours and wonder, “Do these people know I’m unemployed?” At other times, we’ve built up the courage to venture out of the house, sunglasses on and we pray we don’t run into anyone we know. Inevitably, we encounter a former colleague who says, “I heard it was your department that was eliminated. What a shame.” We scurry home and say over and over, “What are the odds of meeting him there?”

One of the last things we want to hear is, “I know how you feel. Things will be fine.” They won’t.

We can’t be afraid to ask for help. When a patient is in the emergency room and the doctor asks, “Where does it hurt?” we can describe where the pain is and within a reasonable time, we’re given a diagnosis. With unemployment, we don’t know how to ask for help or point to the pain because it’s everywhere.

The truth is sometimes we feel what we really need is someone to take over our whole life, make all our decisions and in the meantime get us a job. We’re severely wounded but no one can see the damage. We’re following orders by sending resumes and making phone calls. All our lives, we’ve been told that if you do what you’re told and follow orders, you get results. That’s not true in job hunting. We’re entitled to an answer to our resume, aren’t we? After all, they asked us to send it and we did. Don’t hiring managers realize that by ignoring us, they’re driving us deeper into gloom? Day by day, we become more convinced that we don’t have what they want. How can we send resumes and sell ourselves if we don’t feel good about ourselves?

We need to create small wins each day and replenish our confidence so that we can become a positive candidate who brings something to the table. A precept that has helped me is: “Don’t do it unless you win.” Live by it. You simply can’t afford rejection. Whatever your next move might be, stop and think it through. If it doesn’t produce a victory, don’t do it. You deserve the best. See to it that you get it.

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Career, Jobsearch