I never imagined a life of unemployment.
I planned for my profession of choice through research and preparation. I earned academic degrees by completing my higher education endeavors. I developed my hard and soft skills along the way through paid and non-paid work experiences.
I was excited about the possibilities, and I looked forward a successful career in this profession. Things didn’t happen as I planned. I eventually took on a role of elderly caregiving and consulting. I regularly received compliments concerning my efficiency and “success” in this role, but (in my mind at the time) it threw my planned career trajectory off course.
Years later, I found myself among the ranks of the active unemployed.
Initially, I didn’t fret. I had a strong work ethic, skills, and education. I believed an employer, somewhere, would see the value I’d bring, and I was on it with my traditional job search.
I prowled (niche and general) job boards and company websites for leads. I read books and websites relating to the job search and career management. I cold called and sought career advice from professionals in my field. I also submitted countless employment applications, cover letters, and resumes to prospective employers for targeted job openings.
I’ve been called in for job interviews and interviewed, but I have no job offer right now to show for it. It’s all been a drain and has brought about increased levels of frustration.
Quickly, I went from the label of unemployed to one of long-term unemployed. And despite the seriousness of my job search, I remain in the land of joblessness. I had no clue I’d ever experience unemployment, more or less be out of paid work for such a long time.
Looking at the state of things nowadays, however, I see I’m not alone in my struggle to find a traditional job. High numbers of people, all over the world, are going through unemployment.
You might think applying and interviewing for jobs with higher education, skills, and experience would immediately result in being hired. But, it’s just not today’s labor force reality. The challenge to find any job is harder than ever. Yet, the unemployment stigma is real, and I see it regularly in the criticisms and judgments of persons who are without jobs—despite their efforts to find paying work.
In the U. S., the unemployment rate is 6.2%, according to the latest labor report. This same report shows: the number of persons who are unemployed stands at 9.7 million, with 3.2 million among the ranks of the long-term unemployed.
You can hear or read about choice words for those of us who are unemployed everywhere. The only reason they’ve been unemployed so long is because they’re lazy. They don’t really want to work because they would have a job by now if they did. They should try harder. They need jobs and shouldn’t be picky in their job searches.
When hearing and reading these types of comments, I wonder: How can people so harshly judge a group of people without knowing us personally? Without knowing our backgrounds and experiences? Without knowing our individual circumstances?
These comments do nothing at all to help the person who is unemployed and actively engaged in the search for suitable employment.
This is a serious issue. Where are the concrete unemployment solutions instead of the harsh comments?
The unemployment experience differs for everyone, but I’m sure many will agree with the following statement: unemployment isn’t an easy situation for the responsible person who wants paid work.
You deal with loss and disappointment.
You deal with lifestyle changes.
You deal with an extra layer of stress because you want a job.
You deal with feelings of failure because of how things turned out.
You deal with the shame of being unable to land a job at your age.
These things can hit hard, too. Your emotions can vary from one moment to the next and leave you questioning everything.
In my life, the frustration of a prolonged job hunt lead me to question why I haven’t yet secured a job. Lead me to question whether I’d gone wrong in my (academic and other) life choices. Lead me to question whether I should’ve been doing more in my efforts to land a job.
Thing is, I was already doing everything I could in my situation. I was already giving my best efforts to my job search. In fact, I was trying too hard and burned out.
Burned out from an aggressive job search filled with rejection and silence.
Though I understood the importance of finding a job, after experiencing job search burnout, I knew it would only hurt me further if I didn’t create the balance I needed in my life.
Job seekers don’t hear this often, but you must balance your job search and include time away from it. Time away to recharge and engage with other aspects of your life.
I learned the hard way.
With time, however, I created this much-needed balance. And for some time now, I’ve been moving forward with a different perspective.
I’ve also recently opened myself up to alternative options. I now maintain an open mind when it comes to work opportunities. I’ll be exploring every legitimate possibility. I don’t know which direction paid work will come from, so why not remain flexible?
I’ve also accepted this fact: unemployment is not my identity. The result? I’ve not only corrected my mistaken identity but have also readjusted my thinking: though I’ve failed to land a traditional job, this failure doesn’t define me or my life.
With these changes in my thinking and perspective, I can openly blog here at Serenity Amidst Frustration about unemployment and my experience with it. Unemployment is one of those taboo subjects. However, it’s one society should make an effort to better understand—without a negative view of someone’s character and personality.
So, while I continue the search for my next position and explore all options, I’ll be maintaining this blog for others who are also navigating the challenges of unemployment.
I hope you’d join me here!