Being out of job can shake one’s confidence, bring a sense of hopelessness and make one feel miserable.
Unemployment is a socio-eco-political issue, for obvious reasons, but at the same time it is a psychological phenomenon as well.
A person needs to feel engaged, valuable and socially acceptable, which apparently becomes null while being unemployed. It becomes the cause of social embarrassment. We would talk about how being unemployed should not validate these feelings.
Few of the reasons of unemployment:
Finding the right job– You just quit your job, because of as simple a reason as not liking it. Wouldn’t you send back your food at a restaurant, if you found it has nuts which you’re allergic to? If we can do it with food then why not with work where we spend more than two-third of the day? Staying in a place because of social reasons (fearing what others might think of you) which you know brings stress, may invite problems causing ill-effects to your health.
Fired from job– So, when you have that food which you did not know you were allergic to, your body will have ways to get it of your system. Similarly, at times, our idea of job may be largely different from the management we are working for. It can happen to the best of us. Remember Steve Jobs, who got fired from Apple? Take this as a learning experience of what/how/why went wrong and use it wisely for future applications/jobs.
Out from College and looking for job– This could bring distress in many people’s lives, as this is the period of transition from life of college to work. It generally does take time to land yourself a job.
When we have our own reasons, internal or external, but why does it bother too much?
- Fear of social disapproval
- Making Work as a part of one’s identity
- Unable to manage finances
- Assuming permanency of the situation
So how to manage unemployment, apprehensions as well as this period of time efficiently and effectively:
- Fear of social disapproval: We all are scared of our friends, parents, relatives raising eyebrows; constantly asking why aren’t you doing anything? Are you looking for jobs? Why did you quit? Being unemployed may bring a share of social stigma. But do remember sometimes you work for others to get paid; sometimes you work for yourself to get to the place you want to. Latter is the investment of a lifetime.
- Making Work as a part of one’s identity: We take work as a core of our identity. How many of us introduce ourselves as a professional of the company we are working for? The conventional response to” what are you doing in life?” is our working status associated with some revenue generation. Our identity is just not our profession, but also encompasses the passion/hobby/values/belief that we live for.
- Managing finances: One of the prime concern of being unemployed is budget constraint. We all need to meet our ends. Use your savings if any, wisely. Track your expenses and cut out on the things that you wouldn’t need to invest in for now. You could also do freelancing work to take care of your expenditure.
- Assuming permanency of the situation: It is a human bias, to exaggerate/magnify a constraint or difficulty in life. Have you ever seen anyone who has been looking for a job all his life? If yes, then what the percentage is as compared to people who do manage to find a job? Focus and invest in yourself to keep yourself calm and patient.
- Add valuable points in your resume: You can start building on your skills and knowledge, which you always felt could be polished. There are lots of free online courses available for various fields. Build your resume with the certifications. This is one of the best ways where you can show/justify the usability of the gap after your previous job, to your future employers.
- Invest in your hobbies: One thing people mostly crib about while being in the job is that they do not get enough time to spend with their hobbies. Pursuing a hobby would not only make you feel engaged and happy but also help you with your resume. An interviewer would always look out for it, and gauge into the other activities that you like to do.
- Network: Get in touch with your college seniors/mentors, professors, ex-colleagues, managers and even friends to let them know what job roles you are looking for. Some companies give their employees referrals points to get their known ones on board. Referrals might land you in a job more promptly which job search portals might not.
- Physical Activity: Engaging in physical activities like exercise and walking can give you natural high. Body releases chemicals which keeps your mood upbeat and pushes the stress away.
- Schedule: Looking for jobs whole day can take a mental toll on you. Schedule particular time slots for job search/network, hobbies, eating, exercises, etc. Scheduling gives you a sense of control on your day and life in general.
- Volunteer: One of the best ways to feel good about oneself is by helping others. Volunteer with an NGO or find a channel where you can help others.
- Social Support: Since fear of social disapproval is one of the major implicit concerns through the unemployment phase, it is best to be surrounded by loved ones and share your feelings with them. Supportive and non-judgmental relationships would keep your confidence and self esteem intact.
- Speak to a counselor: In the times of confusion, and apparent perception of lack of support and clarity, you can always speak to a counselor/life coach. They would help you de-clutter and empower you to navigate through this period of self development!
How you manage any period of your life depends largely on how you perceive it. One can see it as a phase of distress and not do anything about it or as a phase of opportunity to build further on self.
Remember, everyone has their own timeline to get things.
Eisenberg, P.; Lazarsfeld, P. F. (1938). The psychological effects of unemployment. Psychological Bulletin, Vol 35(6).
McKee-Ryan, F and others (2005). Psychological and Physical Well-Being During Unemployment: A Meta-Analytic Study. Journal of Applied Psychology . Vol. 90 (1).
Bruce Woodcock, University of Kent.
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