Being unemployed can be hard on the ego. Whether you are recovering from a layoff or trying to get back into the workforce after a hiatus, it can be challenging to put unemployment into perspective without your sense of self taking a hit.
Being unemployed can make you feel unconvinced of your professional value. It’s time to shed that skin, recognize your worth, and energize your hunt. It adds to the difficulty from this tender place when you’re trying to muster up the gumption to sell your skills on the job market.
You’re not alone.
People lose their jobs for a variety of reasons. Some are performance-related, some are not. The COVID pandemic has unleashed tremendous implications for the American workforce.
Pew Research writers Kim Parker, Rachel Minkin, and Jesse Bennett point out: “A a quarter of U.S. adults say they or someone in their household has been laid off or lost a job because of the coronavirus outbreak, and 32% say they or someone else in their household has taken a pay cut due to reduced hours or demand for their work. Overall, 42% say their household has experienced one or both of these.”
Whether you’ve lost your role or you’ve lost fit in your job, a huge number of your fellow Americans are experiencing that pain with you. Recognize that what you’re going through is part of a cultural current that is largely beyond your control.
You’re a survivor.
These are demanding times. It takes guts, grit, heart, and optimism to manage 2020’s many challenges. Years from now, when we talk about the pandemic, yours will be a re-creation story about how you rebranded yourself during a moment of national trauma because you’re a survivor.
What you tell yourself about how you’re going to maneuver through this time matters. In their book Own your Greatness Dr. Lisa Orbé -Austin and Dr. Richard Orbé -Austin, both psychologists, and executive coaches, explain: “The stories we tell ourselves about a situation have a great impact on what we choose to do next in situations that dictate the trajectory of our lives.”
Lean into your network.
Position yourself for success by surrounding yourself with nourishing people. Reach out to mentors, former colleagues, friends, family members, etc. Remember, this is a time of national difficulty. You are likely to find that those in your network are especially supportive.
Keep in mind, too, that when it comes to asking a contact for a referral, a reference, or an introduction, you don’t have to feel like you’re asking for some giant favor. This is how business gets done. Be professional and polite when you request help, but you don’t have to feel diminished because you need assistance. Silently commit to helping someone when you can. That’s how it works. You’ll take what you need now and then help a job seeker who needs your support in the future.
Create a routine around your search.
It can feel strange to go from having a full, busy day to seeing an empty calendar. Protect yourself by creating to-do lists and daily routines. Commit to advancing your job search and building your network each day. Reach out, follow up, and send out materials for fitting roles. Get into the job search business, then allow yourself to feel proud of the work that you’re doing there.
Do those things that make you feel strong, optimistic, and healthy. Work with a therapist or a career coach. Build healthy activities into your routine. These activities stand to make you sleep better and to weather emotional challenges healthily. When your body feels healthy, your mind will feel better as well.
Sometimes, it can be hard to build on self-care initiatives. Drs. Orbé-Austin points out that micro-habits can be a helpful way of “being intentional and starting small.” They explain: “Micro-habits are actions that require minimal motivation or effort to complete.” Drs. Orbé-Austin uses the example that attending a regular exercise class may just start with packing the bag. That micro-habit then leads to attending the class once a week. More successes can build from there. Drs. Orbé-Austin note: “By developing micro-habits for your self-care goals, you can deepen your commitment to them and strengthen your ability to achieve them.”
You’re the real deal.
It can feel tempting to think that this job loss exposes you as the imposter that you may fear that you are. Imposter syndrome is common; in fact, Drs. Orbé-Austin points out that 70 percent of people experience imposter syndrome. Drs. Orbé-Austin describes this phenomenon: “Imposter syndrome is the experience of constantly feeling like a fraud, downplaying one’s accomplishments, and always being concerned about being exposed as incompetent or incapable.” Orbé-Austin explains that people who struggle with imposter syndrome tend to repeat negative “origin stories” that reconfirm why they don’t belong.
Recognize it if you’re working your recent job loss into a larger and erroneous refrain: “This kind of stuff has always happened to me because I just can’t produce as well as I should.” Challenge that refrain, and get the help and support you need to put this job loss into perspective and move forward.
Protect your precious confidence so that you can be active and engaged in your search. Reserve your energy for that, don’t allow it to be siphoned away by anxiety, self-doubt, and imposter syndrome.
Good luck! You’ve got this!
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