So, you find yourself unemployed. Now what?
The recession has officially been declared and the proverbial elephant in the living room is now visible, so to speak. It seems people are finally getting a grip on how the economy has, and will continue to impact the job market. It has been distressing to watch over the past six months as many people continued to disregard the writing on the wall, and have failed to capture the need to take immediate action when an opportunity arises. Finally, it seems people are beginning to get a sense of urgency about their predicament, and perhaps recognizing that a passive (or nonexistent) job search is not fruitful. Unfortunately, those that were in the job market six months ago, are now being joined by scores more.
If you have found yourself in that boat (unemployed), then it is time to take a deep breath and forge ahead. Take action. It may mean that your course will need to change, perhaps bend a bit as you move toward the goals you set in prior years, but didn’t achieve. It doesn’t mean you will forever go off course. It means you are taking evasive action to save your standard of living, and preserve the ability to have choices. This may be a different kind of recession, but it pretty much seems to be having the same bottom line impact of those in the past: fewer jobs, fewer options, and more families unable to make ends meet.
For the newly unemployed job seeker, it is time to make hay while the sun shines (how trite is that?), which may also mean jumping on every possibility as if it is the only one. Why? Because you can’t turn down something that hasn’t been offered! It may mean that something you wouldn’t have done two years ago may now be a reasonable option to carry you on to the next step as the economy improves. That doesn’t mean you need to work for a company that is killing dolphins or infringing on people’s civil rights. It means you work for a company that shows evidence of values you can support, to take care of your family or living expenses and prevent yourself from going any further off course.
It’s much easier to move yourself in the right direction once you are off the bench and in the game. (I don’t think I’ve seen any sports teams pull people from the stands when it was time to press forward.) Your decision to accept less than a “Plan A” role only needs to be backed by a strategy for moving forward. It needs to be tied to your over all life goals, and values, even if it isn’t the exact picture of what you had hoped for yourself. The funny (ok, maybe not funny) thing about a recession is that it does tend to change the best laid plans, but overall resiliency is developed by adjusting to what is really going on, rather than what you wish were going on.
Adjust, adapt, and take care of business. I don’t mean to do it willy-nilly. Do it with thoughtfulness about where you can go from here. The role you take now needs to be connected to the future in some meaningful way. It may not be obvious to you. It requires thinking through, in some detail, how you will get back to the fast track or perhaps simply back on course from this point. It may require continued, extensive, and dedicated networking, with a plan for when and how it will happen.
To get there, it means you need to be up early, prepared, and on every lead, before the next 500 people respond. It means you turn over every rock, and give every possibility your best shot. Before you decide that a role isn’t enough money to pursue, I’d invite you to think of how much money you made last week, or the week before, or ask yourself if relying on unemployment really makes a lot of sense in the bigger scheme of things. Actively working and engaging with people is far more likely to open a door than staying home painting the bathroom. It is only after you get an offer that you have a choice about what happens next.
What to do?
- Think out of the box
- Consider every possibility
- Be prepared and ready to act immediately
- Go the extra mile – do what others are unwilling to do to show your interest
- Be realistic about your situation
What fears are you fighting that keep you from moving forward?