Maggie Warrell wrote an article for Forbes that is rather timely for me. I thought I’d run down her list of seven (which I’ve paraphrased and now shamelessly own) to evaluate where I’m at. For those who you who are in the same boat I hope that it will help you as well.
1. Keep looking ahead.
I’m reminded of Hebrews when it says, “let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Hebrews 12:1, ESV). It would be easy to get bogged down by having a pity party, but I (we) need to put the past aside. More importantly than looking ahead to the future, or as Warrell puts it, “stay future focused,” we need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, “the founder and author of our faith.” He has a purpose and a plan even in the midst of unemployment.
2. You are not your job status (or job for that matter).
Guys… hear me? I’m preaching this to myself. My identity is in Christ, not my job. Guys are notorious for letting their jobs define them which is why a bout of unemployment can be really challenging. I’ve worked with Serve Our Youth Network for 10 years. It has been a huge part of my life. When I wrap up in July it is going to be hard. It’s a weird feeling trying to discern what is next as for twenty years I’ve been involved in youth ministry. I still may find myself down the road employed by a non-profit, but it is definitely going to be different. It would be easy for me to get wrapped up in my jobless status, but this wasn’t a personal rejection.
That’s another thing, one thing I HATE about a job search is the thought of rejection as I apply at different places.. Again, I have to trust that God has a purpose and plan for me. He’ll open up the right opportunity. It is easy to say this being on the front end of my experience. I’ll check in with you later on how I’m doing with this.
Also there are more important statuses than my job status – like being a husband and a dad.
3. Take care of yourself (and your family too)
Am I spending time with God. Am I eating right? Am I taking care of myself physically? The honest answers to these questions are not as consistently as I would like, no and no. This is a change that I
need to must make.
Adding to this is taking care of your family… my unemployment doesn’t impact just me. It impacts my wife and my kids as well. Actually I tend to be more laid back so I’d say it impacts my wife even more negatively than it does me. I need to be praying for her and be proactive in asking her how she is feeling. Also I need to demonstrate to her that I’m being diligent in my job seeking. Security is important to her (as it is for most wives, I believe) so I can’t blow off her feelings.
Again I’m preaching to myself here. I’m sure Cheryl will remind me of this post.
4. You reflect the people you are around.
Don’t spend a ton of time around pessimistic people. No Eeyores need to be present in my life. Unfortunately I’ve been told (rightly or wrongly) that a lot of support groups for jobless folks can turn into this. So at present I have zero plans to join one.
5. Network, network, network
Talk to people you know. I’ve been doing this since I first saw the handwriting on the wall. I’ve found most of my work this way. I know in this economy when I was hiring I’d see 50 resumes per job opening. Those aren’t good odds. So I let my network know and hopefully they’ll let their network know, etc. Word of mouth is the best way to find a job bar none. A lot of times a new job is because of who you know.
Also, looking for opportunities to expand your network is a good idea – professionals gatherings, seminars, and conferences (especially if they are free) is a great idea. If you’re active on social media do you have friends locally that you haven’t actually met in person? Meet them! I’ve recently gone through my LinkedIn list and have attempted to do just that.
6. Your new job is finding a job.
You need to create structure in your day. Don’t sleep in and don’t lounge around. Get ready for the day, even dress for what is appropriate for your trade or career. Be intentional in finding a job. Since my contract isn’t up yet I’m not at the point where I can devote the time so I’m treating it as a part-time job at the moment. Though I do have freedom to do what I need to do, go on interviews, etc. during this interim period. The challenge if I haven’t been hired before is what I don on August 1st.
7. Give your time.
Because that may be all you have at the moment. Volunteering your time and giving people a helping hand will help you feel productive in an idle time like unemployment. Also it is a great way to meet other people. Make a difference even if you’re not making an income. Not to mention Christ commands his disciples to serve. I don’t see anything in the Word that gives me permission to check out from service because I’m unemployed.