contact
 
 
     

You Always Have a Job (Even if You're Unemployed)

You Always Have a Job (Even if You're Unemployed)

Daisy Wademan Dowling, Harvard Business Publishing, February 25, 2009

 

You got laid off. Fired. Canned. Sacked. Handed a pink slip. Made redundant.
 
And now you're Unemployed. Not unemployed, but Unemployed — marked with a big scarlet "U".

If you're like most of the high-talent, high-performing and high-potential people I coach who are currently between gigs, you're probably a little embarrassed to be reading this blog, even if you're sitting all alone in your living room.

Why? Because Unemployed — an identity you never thought you'd try on, has become just that — an identity. It's how the world categorizes you. Or at least, that's how it feels at the cocktail party when you're asked what you do for a living, or on the street, when you bump into a friend you haven't seen for years and they ask you how work is going. Sure, you have a quick answer, maybe even a glib one. "I decided to move on," you tell them. Or "Actually, I'm independently wealthy." Inside, however, you're cringing. Now you're not just Unemployed, you're exposed. You stop going to cocktail parties, or the gym. Even as you sit here reading, you feel vaguely guilty, and hope no one looks over your shoulder.

When smart, ambitious, and successful people like you get laid off, it's an incredibly difficult thing to deal with, and understandably so. You've got talents, and you like using them, and you like working really, really hard. A salary or bonus or performance review and that promotion you had last year are all validation of who you are: Someone who produces results, be it as an accountant, a lawyer, a marketer, a product designer, a financial analyst, a salesman. You were part of the team. You were contributing. You were an expert. You were admired. And even when work was annoying, or draining, it felt very, very good.

As an Unemployed, that's all — or so you fear — behind you. You feel uneasy, tired, all wound up. You spend a lot of time, well, wasting time — just kind of puttering around. It's extremely hard to send out 100 resumes and hear 100 "No's". You desperately want to get back to work, but aren't sure you can endure the time and effort and experience it's going to take to get you there.

You know what? You don't have to.

Why?

Because you already have a job. You always have a job.

Being between (paying) gigs is a temporary condition. It's like being stuck at an airport between delayed flights on a lousy airline — deeply frustrating, but temporary. An unfortunate part of the journey, but part of the journey, nevertheless.

Before, your work was to work — now, it's to find work. Either way, you're en route. You're still making progress. You're still moving towards the next job, the next phase of your career, your next building block, towards making your total career contribution.
The trick to getting to the next destination safely? As hard as it is, you've got to help yourself ditch the shame — yes, I said "shame" — of being Unemployed, and get your usual energy back. You've got to get yourself ready to go to that cocktail party — or an interview — looking, acting, and feeling like the champ you really are.

Here are four cost-free tricks for doing that — for shaking off the complex feelings of Unemployed and getting your head back in the game.

Read a biography. Read the story of any world-class leader or star and you'll hear the story of when they were Unemployed. Winston Churchill? Kicked to the curb after World War 2. Lincoln? As a young man, decided to kill himself if he couldn't beat his terrible depression. Joan Crawford? Labeled "box office poison" in the 1930s before coming back in 1945 with Mildred Pierce. I could go on and on. The point is, you're just in the intermission between Acts 1 and 2. Persist, and greatness is ahead.

Write your story. Finished the biographies? Sit down at your computer and write your own obituary. What's the headline on that article? What are you going to be known for? What will be your big contributions to the world? (You may want to mention that one frustrating period in 2009, when you were between jobs, before you got on the path that led to your ultimate success.)

Pick a BHAG. Select what Jim Collins of Good to Great calls a Big Hairy Audacious Goal — one that you have total control over. Run the half-marathon. Eat dinner with your kids every night this year. Join your local theater group even though public speaking scares you. Make it personal, make it big, make it happen, and savor in the success.

Get with a group. You didn't work alone before, and you shouldn't now, either. With the exception of extreme introverts, most people find spending 12 hours a day in front of their computer alone incredibly depressing. (Think "solitary confinement.") You know other Unemployeds, or you can find them. Get them together, get yourselves set up at the kitchen table, and work. Going on an interview? Get a pep talk from the guy next to you. Sent another resume out? Announce it to the others. You always have a job — and you can be on a team, too.

Interview Myths That Can Keep You From Landing the Job
Tweet Your Way to a Better Job
45 Percent of Employers Use Social Networks to Aid Hire-No Hire Decisions
As Unemployment Rises, U.S. Chamber Leads Effort to Connect Job Seekers with Career Resources
Credit Checks and the Job Search; Should They Really Be Tied Together?
Finding a Job Via Twitter
Michigan Works at Jumpstarting Worker's Careers
The Ultimate Social Media Resume
How to Get a Job Using Social Media
30 Websites to Visit When You're Laid Off
Recession-Proof Jobs
5 Things You Should Never Have on a Resume
Weighing the Importance of Benefits as You Consider Job Offers
Job Search Mistakes
Top 10 Social Sites for Finding a Job
 
Join Our Mailing List
Email:  
You Always Have a Job (even if you're unemployed) - safe_subscribe_logo
For Email Marketing you can trust