A few weeks ago I joined the ranks the ranks of the unemployment by choice. I will not reveal details except to say that I realized I simply was not a good fit at my last employer and decided to cut my losses. Since then I have been looking for work and for the first time, I’m running up against roadblock after roadblock looking for work.
It is a daunting, demoralizing experience for someone in their forties to be able to find work in a super competitive environment, and more so when the degree you have am been seeking for so long feels further and further from your reach due to poor decision in budgeting and financial aid limitations. Sadly, today’s hiring environments often demand Bachelors degrees at a minimum for jobs which really don’t even require such an education. A human resources expert I know told me part of the reason for this has little to do with whittling down the applicant pool (though it is part of the reason) but instead demands of employers to appear more educated to investors. Essentially, a psychological shell game. So what can a job applicant do when they have exhausted or are exhausting all the “glossy magazine” advice foisted by websites? Well, here are some things I’ve learned which might actually help:
Count on “happy accidents”: This is not a think positive” platitude because, frankly, those make to me want to throat punch the bearer. I’m referring more to the attitude counting on blind luck to help you out. It sounds weird, but I’ve learned that when you surrender to fate and literally rely on blind luck, you tend to get lucky. That happy accident could be as simply as striking up a conversation with a person you discover is an executive and, whammo, they want to talk to you about a job. Don’t laugh, it does happen.
Wear your work clothes daily. This may sound ridiculous but I actually feel more successful when I wear my only suit. I feel more professional, more determined, and less willing to accept excuses. More important, I am more discriminating in my job preferences. If you know what you want, wear those clothes. Believe it or not, this is the essence of “fake it til you make it.”
Work for yourself. If you know you have marketable skills, consider websites which connect providers with customers. In my case, I perform writing jobs on Fiverr and, while its not a lot of money, it affords me gas money and a daily cup of coffee for wifi use. I also do freelance writing work on other websites and will be adding my services to my personal website. Take every customer as a networking opportunity.
Forgive yourself. This sounds like a coffee table psychology book pop cure, but for job seekers this is an essential thing, especially if you are denied unemployment and are relying on others for help. It’s easy to get stuck in a downward spiral or self destruction, and our current political climate with the “electronic courage” of social media encourages mean spirited statements masked in the guise of “brutal honesty.” Forgive yourself for being unemployed, especially if you doing everything you can to help yourself and find work. On a semi humorous note, most people who rip others to shreds online are either themselves unemployed or being closed watched on their own performance.
Never sell yourself short. Yes, be realistic about the job you want, but don’t think you deserve less that what you want. Also, bear in mind that what you want and what’s right for you are often vastly different. Not every baseball player can pitch, but every player wanted to be a pitcher at one time. It’s all in what works best for you.
In the end, you really do control your fate, even if it doesn’t feel like it. Either go out and find the right job, create your own job, or do both. It can be tough and draining and downright depressing, but everything does come together in the fullness of time.