Getting laid off, being unemployed, and beginning a job search ranks high in the scale of life stressors. Suddenly the daily routine, the connections with co-workers, the sense of accomplishment and recognition drop off a cliff. Who are you without your work identity? (According to Gallup’s polls which have been consistent since 1989, US workers get their source of identity from their jobs.) Most of us take a hit to our confidence and our sense of who we are in the world when this happens.
The process of searching for a job is usually a full-time endeavor and it involves skills that you may not use in your regular daily professional work—things like “branding yourself, researching target companies, developing a marketing plan and promoting yourself, networking, writing a resume, interviewing or negotiating a job offer.
It requires scheduling your time without external prompts. It involves hearing rejection or hearing “nothing” and wondering—are they going to get back to me? It also impacts your family and can make them very anxious about finances. They may be pushing you to “take any job you can get”. They make question whether you are working hard enough at getting a new job—because it is hard for them to see the “actions” you are taking. They may want you to pick up new responsibilities at home that make it difficult to manage your time.
So, how can you manage the stress?
You may need to take a intermediate contract position or a lower paying job part-time to bring in some cash to tide you over, however I encourage you to stay focused on the “bigger long term picture”. Think about where you want your career to be in the next 5-10 years and whether you need training to help get you there.
Many individuals don’t stop and reflect about their careers until a lay-off happens. Use this time to your advantage. If you aren’t sure about the long-term, work with a career coach to help you sort that out. Then, remember that the job search process is a “two-way conversation”. It isn’t just fitting yourself into what they need. It is also researching and interviewing to see if they fit who you want to work for. This takes time.
While you are job searching, remember to take care of yourself physically— get good sleep, make time to work out, and find fun ways to exercise (sports). Try to do some of the following: make time to have fun with your family, consider joining a job search support group, hire a career coach, take a class to upgrade your skills, volunteer in your community to help expand your network, and read something inspiring each day.
Check in with your partner/spouse every couple of days to let them know the steps you are taking to find a job. Reassure your children that you will be able to take care of them. Schedule time in the morning for your work researching online, applying, doing emails—and time in the afternoon and evening for meetings with colleagues and your network to get support and build connections.
Remember the times in the past that were challenging and think about how you grew stronger in those situations and what you learned about what helps you in dealing with stress. Perhaps talking with friends is helpful. Maybe doing creative tasks is key for you. It might be that being outside in Nature is your best stress reliever.
Remember-this situation is temporary. You will find an answer. Recall all the major accomplishments you have achieved and the strengths you have inside your self. They haven’t gone away. That “warrior” is still inside of you waiting to take action.