As someone who’s been unemployed for a longer period than I’d thought I’d be, I often find myself shocked by my reality.
I’ve given my best efforts to the search for employment. Yet, to date, I’ve failed to secure a job offer.
Days quickly turned into weeks. Weeks quickly turned into months. Months into many more. And, I’ve never, in my life, been so discouraged.
Still, I continue my job search efforts—fighting my way through the discouragement and exhaustion seeking to overtake me daily. Some days better than others.
Proactivity aside, this job search wait is a real thing:
When you apply for a job, you must wait to hear back about your employment application. When you reach out to a company and inquire about available positions, you must wait for a response. When you interview for a job, you must wait to find out whether you’ve gotten the job. When you follow-up after the interview, if you do so, you must wait for a reply to this type of inquiry, if you get one.
Companies don’t always respond back to applicants and candidates in a timely manner. Some don’t respond at all, for one reason or another.
Either way, these encountered waits are hard when you truly desire paying work.
The average length of unemployment these days is nearly 40 weeks, according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Emphasis here: This is the average length. Many people, though, are unemployed longer. This has proven true in my case.
Long-term unemployment impacts are clear, as evidenced by the Urban Institute’s Consequences of Long-Term Unemployment report: Unemployment affects income and consumption, reemployment wages, social capital, physical and mental health, children and families.
Hearing back about employment opportunities would at least prove helpful in the physical and mental health area.
“StartWire’s research shows that only 33% of Fortune 500 companies pass along any data they have on hand to candidates,” according to Annie Fisher, Fortune Columnist & Workplace Contributor, in one of her columns, “even though 90% of job seekers surveyed said that getting that feedback would make their job hunt ‘less frustrating’ and 96% said they would be more likely to apply for a job at a company where they knew they’ll be kept informed.”
This wait, with or without employer feedback and communication, can leave you pondering thoughts like: “Why am I such a failure?” “Why am I worthless and useless?” “Why do I keep trying when I see little to no results of my efforts?”
For the longest time, I dwelled on these thoughts—thinking I was doing nothing ‘purposeful’ with my life. Thinking I should’ve done something differently. Thinking I needed to do more in my job search.
Evaluation is a good thing. Don’t get me wrong. It’s beneficial to reflect on what you’ve done, what you could’ve done better, what you could do now. But, when things turn negative, you waste your precious time. Precious time you could be using to reevaluate your life for the better.
Looking back, reevaluating my life has been a great benefit for me in this waiting room of life. Prior to becoming actively unemployed, for instance, I didn’t stop to think about the real purpose of this life as regularly as I should have.
Society expects us to strive for material things—thriving careers, top job titles and high-paying positions, social status, beautiful homes, luxury cars and clothes. It’s easy to (unconsciously and subconsciously) strive for these things with obsession—and lose ourselves in the midst of our strivings.
When you join the ranks of the unemployed, you can easily fall into the shame trap because you failed to achieve or have fallen away from the societal definition of success.
Should I move about in misery because I’m unemployed and without one of those top job titles? Should I move about in misery because I’m unemployed and don’t have one of those high-paying jobs? Should I move about in misery because I’m considered a failure?
No. I answered no, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t take on one of those top job titles—suitable to my qualifications, if offered. I answered no, but it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t apply for a high-paying job, if I can solve the company’s problem. I answered no, but it doesn’t mean I don’t struggle with the realities and frustrations of the unemployed life, to which one of those jobs would provide a sense of financial relief.
Through my reevaluation process, though, I relearned my vital life purpose and goal. I also relearned the importance of practicing gratitude for things I have, despite things I lack.
As you move forward in your wait for a change in your circumstances, I encourage you to also consider a reevaluation of your life, priorities, and goals. Consider the difference between attainable and realistic goals. Consider the actions you’ll take daily to move forward. Consider the changes and habits necessary to assist you in accomplishing them.
But don’t stop there.
Also consider the ‘why’ behind your goals. Why do you engage in your job search? Why do you want a job? Why do you want more money?
Let’s add in a few responses (for the purpose of example):
- Why do you engage in your job search? I engage in my job search because I want a job.
- Why do you want a job? I want a job because I want to bring money into my household.
- Why do you want more money? I want money because I want to independently earn the money I need to meet my financial obligations and provide for my necessities.
Consider, though, I provided these examples to get you started. Your answers to the why questions might differ a little. And, that’s okay.
What matters most is: you make time to discover your why and its core.
Familiarizing yourself with your why will help your reflect on the things of importance to you. It’ll help you press through the waiting process with action and diligence, when you feel the temptation to give up. It’ll help you to courageously continue the search for your next role or position, even when the amount of rejections, silences, and disappointments add up.
Waiting for answers to different things when you’re unemployed is challenging. But, you may find it helpful to use this time to fully reevaluate your life and make changes for the better.
P. S. Wondering what to read next here on Serenity Amidst Frustration? Here’s a suggestion: 15 Self-Management Job Search Tips Worth Implementing When You’re Coping With Unemployment.