In 2010, I left a job of five years from what seemed like my dream job. I started in January of 2011 and in March of 2011 they laid me off as they restructured. I was unemployed for the next 25 months before finding a new job.
Over those two years and one month, I can count on both hands how many places I was able to land an interview with, even though I was applying for at least jobs a week within a 60-mile radius from where I live. Some interviews were multiple phone interviews, while others were several in-person interviews – each was spread out over weeks and gave you hope that things would change. My unemployment benefits had run out months before I found a new job and we were scrimping by in every sense of the word. I won’t go into details, but it was some of the most constant, crushing stress I’ve ever experienced.
I want to thank some dad bloggers I know who encouraged me to write this post, instead of only sharing my story and advice behind the confines of private discussion groups.
As someone who has “been there,” I can empathize with other people – especially other fathers and husbands – who find themselves either unexpectedly out of work, or in the midst of long-term unemployment. While I can’t make the problem go away, I wanted to talk about what helped me deal with long-term unemployment, and also share what I wish I had done differently, so you don’t make the same mistakes that I did.
The most important thing is to never stop looking. I know, I know, you’re probably tired of hearing this and the statement oozes with overuse. But seriously, never stop applying for jobs. Never stop networking. Never stop talking with other parents at your kid’s school. Never stop smiling and looking for opportunities masquerading as chump work. If I had stopped looking for a job after the last “Thank you for your interest, however you weren’t chosen for the position” email, then I never would have applied for the job I have now – which I love.
Being unemployed and searching for jobs will be discouraging as hell. You will want to bash your head against the wall just to end your own misery and shame. You will want to run screaming into the hills, thinking your family will be better off without your dead-beat, out-of-work ass taking up space. But you’re wrong.
Staying in the ring and taking the blows as they come will show everyone what you’re made of. There’s a lesson in everything and the real lesson in being long-term unemployed is finding out how mighty you really are and how much you can handle. With each setback, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and tell life, “You hit like a bitch.”
When you’re unemployed, get your ass out of bed every day like you would if you had a job.
Put on shoes.
Be the first one up so you can greet your family with a smile and a hug in the mornings.
Make the coffee for your spouse before they leave for work.
Clean the house.
Don’t sit at home all day wallowing in self-pity because that won’t change a damned thing. It might feel good at the time, but I promise you that at the end of the day, looking back on a sluggish day of missed potential is far more demoralizing than looking back at productive day where you tried to make the most of a shitty situation.
Be optimistic that you are capable of finding some way to provide for your family. This mess that you’re in can’t and won’t last forever – you won’t let it last forever!
Look at every “failed” interview as an opportunity to get better at interviewing.
You are a hungry wolf on the prowl for the next thing to sink your teeth into. Wolves don’t lay down and quit!
Eventually you’ll find something, even if it’s just a stepping stone to the thing you really want to do. In the meantime, be an involved dad and spouse because once you find a job, you’ll look back on the time you have now with “nothing to do” and wish you took more advantage of it. I look back at the two years I had and lament how much time I let go by without making the most of it.
Good luck out there!
Photo credit: Okay Yaramanoglu