I have been unemployed for two months now.
I would really, really, really like to be somebody’s full-time, decently-paid employee by October 1st. This shit is just bad for my mental health. Also, between working from home part-time and unemployment, I have abused my Netflix account. I need a purpose to leave my house everyday, that’s not grocery shopping on late weekday mornings, like a housewife.
I do not pretend to be good at this unemployment thing. As a matter of fact, I’m probably horrible at it. My room is not clean, nor is my closet organized. I haven’t taken advantage of all this extra time to go to the gym daily. As a matter of fact, I went to the gym more when I was holding down a full-time job. (I still pay for a monthly gym membership, though, mind you. I’ve used it once in the the past 18 months.) I haven’t reached nirvana or practiced gratitude. I do write more often, but who knows if it’s any good?
However, I hope that I will be someone’s full-time employee one day. And more than that, I hope to be someone’s staff writer, with a decent following. And then maybe, these lessons learned will help someone else stuck in my shoes. You know, someone who is fairly impressive for their age, but is in-between “purposes” right now and doesn’t always feel the most confident in his/her/their abilities.
1. Whatever you do, DO NOT look for jobs when you’re feeling depressed or self-conscious. Now, granted, I usually feel some mixture of depressed/self-conscious… but it’s more prevalent at certain times/days. Also, being unemployed can be rather depressing all by itself. Still, if you’re just really down in the dumps about yourself or life or job prospects, do not apply for things. You will either (a) hate every posting you see; (b) talk yourself out of applying for postings that you’re a match for; and/or (c) let that negativity seep into your cover letter writing/job applying process.
2. Force yourself to leave your house and do fun things. I have gotten into the habit of staying at home. My reasoning is that if I’m at home, I will actually be more productive. And also, I will prevent myself from spending money I don’t have. This is somewhat true. But also, being at home all the time isn’t all that enjoyable. After a while, I get bored. And then I surpass boredom and dive straight into melancholy. Losing your job doesn’t mean you have to lock yourself in the house all the time. Go outside. Take walks. Find free shit to do. Scrape pennies to buy coffee, so you can then go to a café and get work done.
3. Ask for help when you need it. I’m really bad at this one. But as I move into my third month of being unemployed, I know I will indeed need to get the f*** over it. Hunting for a job can be really shitty, especially when you do not currently have one. After a while, it stops feeling like an opportunity; it feels like torture. And if you’re like me, you’re constantly reading articles like, “Your Resume Sucks! Here Are 8,562 Vague Ways to Get It Not to Suck!” These articles can do more harm than good. In those moments, you need to reach out to real people for help. Have friends, family members, mentors, and colleagues look over your resume and cover letter. Ask them if they know of any companies that are hiring that you would be a good fit for.
4. Figure out other productive things to do with your time that also showcase your skills. I write. And I adore social media. Sometimes, it feels like a rather masturbatory practice. Sometimes, it seems like something worthy I do with my time. Either way, I am hoping to be employed as a writer or editor someday, hopefully for a digital media company. So in the meantime, I need to be honing my skills and getting my work out there. Figure out what your thing is and do it. You can also learn new skills. I keep telling myself I will sign up for one of those free skill-sharing classes and legitimately learn graphic or web design. But for now, I open up Abobe Illustrator once a month and practice drawing shapes.
5. Try a new technique. With technology and the Internet, it’s pretty easy to just send out your resume and cover letter by email, feel good about yourself, and then just twiddle your thumbs as you wait for the job offers to roll in. Or maybe it’s just me who does this. But I’m realizing, everyone else and their mom is also employing (no pun intended) this same tactic. So maybe, you need to go the extra mile, especially if those job offers do not roll in. The Internet is great and all and I love it so much, but it’s also made it a lot easier for people to remain anonymous. You are not a real person anymore, you are the 107th email that HR person has received today.
6. For the love of all things holy, stop doubting yourself! You may be unemployed, but you are not a worthless individual. You have skills and experience that people need. You are talented and smart. You can put together nice outfits and have perfected your firm handshake. Stay faithful, remain confident. Do not talk yourself out of applying for jobs, just because you’ve applied to 20 thus far… and no one has emailed you back. They’re dumb. They would be so lucky to have you drink their free coffee every morning. Someone else will realize this and beg you to come work for them. Just be patient.