I’ve thought about you a lot since I heard you lost your job, but hesitated to send advice, worried that I might come across as a know-it-all.
And yet… having run Unemploymentville for over 5 years now, I do have some ideas that might help you.
Know that these suggestions are my ‘two cents’, take them or leave them, and we’re still friends either way.
First, about mindset: Some people are thinking it’s futile to look for a job now, with entire industries shut down. But I disagree and here’s why.
The rules of our daily lives have changed completely, but the principles of how to cope with unemployment and look for a new job are still the same.
Step 1: Identify Your Superpowers
- Write down your strengths.
- Get input from others.
I hate those multiple-choice questionnaires that spit out their view of who you are. I don’t believe humans can be so neatly scored and sorted.
Instead I suggest you write down 3 to 5 qualities where you feel you stand out compared to other people you know.
What are you good at? What qualities have you pitched to others hiring you in the past? Write down the first things that pop into your mind.
Then draw a line and spend 20–30 minutes writing down any ideas that come to you, without evaluating them. Think about your capabilities that others have commented on. Where do you excel? What tasks do you find easy that others struggle with?
When your timer goes off, move on to the next part.
Get input from others.
Send 5+ emails and each email can go to more than one person. Tell them that you’re using this time to evaluate your skills and abilities to help you with your career (or job) going forward. I’d mention your current job situation in case someone isn’t aware of it. That way, they will send any leads they may know of, without feeling badly if they don’t have any suggestions. Send the emails to people you know in different ways — family, friends, maybe former co-workers or bosses. (Maybe you’ll be sending one to me.) Here’s a sample email:
I wanted to touch base and see how you and your family were doing during this difficult time. I hope you are safe and healthy.
As you might have guessed, I’m currently out-of-work indefinitely, with my current employer, X, closed as a non-essential business. Didn’t see that one coming. I’m trying to make good use of my time and evaluate job and career options both short and longer-term. Part of my process is getting other people’s perspectives of me.
What do you consider to be my 3 (or 4) strongest qualities or capabilities? Things that would make you want to work with me or do business with me? Just a few words will do, no need to write an essay.
p.s. If you happen to have any ideas that might lead to me earning some money, also feel free to pass those on.
Great. You have completed Step 1. Do NOT sit and wait for replies to those emails. Put them out of your mind and move on to Step 2.
Step 2: Remember that life is more than your job.
I want you to remember that life is more than just your job and focus on at least one other positive area of your life. Find something that you can do now, that you enjoy and take pride in. Though the pride can come from simply trying something new. Here are some cartoons I drew, when I was unemployed, based on a book on How to Draw Cartoons. I thought they might make you smile — or prompt you to think you could do better, or maybe you will want to give names to some of them 🙂
I also began training to run a 15K, because it was way above how much I had been running and again, it was something I could set as a goal and be proud of. Whatever you choose, do it with pride and passion. I think this is essential to you finding new work.
Because no one wants to hire the desperate job seeker. People hire people they like and they like folks who are well-rounded, resilient and able to find joy in their lives even when other stuff is going wrong.
Ideally, you get so wrapped up in other aspects of your life that you almost forget about missing work.
Step 3: Sift Through What You Know and Ask How Can I Meet a Need?
The secret to finding paying work in any economy is finding the overlap of what you are capable of-preferably good at-doing and what people need and will pay for.
It’s possible the overlap might come in the form of a full-time job with benefits. But it might just be a few gigs right now. Or perhaps it’s time you launched a new business idea you have.
Ideally, you could find a way to met a need that also involves something that interests you. That’s the awesome job formula that I drew below:
You say that you have no idea how your skills + today’s world of needs have any overlap or connection? Don’t get discouraged — brainstorm, ask questions, and keep an open-mind.
One Suggestion for Thinking Outside the Box
There is no right way to ‘think outside the box’ — that would kind of be a contradiction of terms, right? I’m going to throw out one strategy for brainstorming about “People’s needs that they will pay for.”
1) Start with a blank sheet of paper (literally) and write down how people make a living filling other people’s needs. Start with broad categories. Here’s what mine looked like:
And then keep branching off. This is just an exercise to keep your brain thinking about jobs in general, because if you think only in terms of yourself, the voice of doubt might start whining, “there’s nothing I can do now in this pandemic with social distancing.”
Other people suggest you take more of a problem/solution approach. What problem are people having today and how can I help solve it?
If you think there’s a job or field that you’d like to get into, but you don’t have the background — dig a little deeper.
Look for people who do something in that field and figure out how to contact them (website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, etc.) Ask them if they can talk to you on the phone for 10 minutes.
Ask people how they got started doing what they are doing. What do they like most about their job? What do they like least? Give them a 1-minute history of yourself (practice explaining your background in a minute or less) and express your interest in what they do and ask what they would do if they were in your situation. At the moment, there are a lot of people who are hungry for a 10-minute conversation and getting to ‘meet’ someone new.
And if you are still struggling to see how you can meet a need in the world today, especially during this pandemic time, consider how you might develop the skills to fill a future need. Maybe now is the time to take a course that will lead to a job in the future.
Step 4: Give yourself an A for effort.
Okay, that was a lot of advice and if you are still reading and trying out some of these steps, pat yourself on the back for taking initiative.
Step 5: Know that you are not alone.
Mostly, I want you to know that you are NOT alone in this. While I have a job now, I traveled through Unemploymentville before and saw the demons (doubt and discouragement) there. I want you to know that I am rooting for you!
May your steps be steady and your passage brief. Take care of yourself and let me know how you are doing. If you found any of this helpful, consider passing along to other friends who are out of work. It does feel good to be able to help others, even in small ways.
About the Author:
I’m Anne Emerick, part-time author and creator of Unemploymentville.com. If you found this post helpful, please share with a friend or comment below. You may also like the book, Out-of-Work to Making Money, 21 Career Comeback Stories Every Job Hunter Should Hear — now available on Amazon and Audible.
Originally published at http://www.unemploymentville.com on April 27, 2020.