I was unemployed for about 5 months in 2015 and very unsure about what I wanted to do next. I was spending 50-60 hours a week researching and applying to jobs. It took a while but I found a great job and it put my career on a new trajectory.
But burnout is real even when you're unemployed and I was worn down. Here are my tips for treating yourself with kindness while you're unemployed now that I'm on the other side of it.
How do you decompress after a long day of work?
I'm sure others have encountered the difficulty of immediately going to bed after a long day of work, especially if it's a frequent occurrence. On one hand, it can be mentally exhausting to eat, sleep, work for any extended period of time. For some it may feel like all they do is work. But there's another familiar challenge -- how to actually getting the mind to turn off so you can go to sleep!
My girlfriend and I have a few things we do, but I'm curious what strategies work for you all! Mine are below:
What do you do after a long day of work?
What I learned after losing the "dream job" I moved for
Imagine my surprise when I received a call on a Wednesday morning that the job I had moved to a new state for just disappeared (3 days before my start date).
I accepted a job offer to join a company in Boston, MA. The opportunity was exciting, but also a leap of faith. I knew moving to Boston from New Jersey meant leaving behind friends, family, and a great employer. I knew there were risks to joining a smaller company, but thought I could eliminate them by proving my value on-the-job. I never got the chance.
So I started a new job search unemployed. Here are the key things I learned along the way:
1.) Use your support system. I called family and friends daily to socialize and vent (job searching can be lonely!). I subletted my apartment and moved in with my girlfriend for additional support. I reached out to people I had gone to school with or worked for in the past. And I asked them to help introduce me to others who might be sympathetic to my circumstances & search. I was fortunate and by the end, 3 people had committed their time to supporting my job search.
2.) For me, creating structure and getting out of the house was key. I found a few cafes near me that I liked and worked at them for about a typical work day. I'd walk my girlfriend to work as a forcing mechanism to get moving each morning.
3.) Finding something else to advance on! My job search was turbulent. There were bumps, highs, and lows. Without much else going on, its hard not to ride the bumps and become frustrated/exhausted. I found that re-devoting my self to fitness and guitar practice were healthy ways to feel like I was progressing, even if my job search wasn't
After 3 months of job searching, I accepted a role with Jobcase. Ever since, I've been fortunate to be able to support and help Jobcase members find jobs and opportunities, which has been more fulfilling than anything else I've done in my professional life. I know that I may be uniquely fortunate to have the support network I had to help navigate my job loss, but sincerely hope my learnings are helpful for you fellow Jobcasers!
When the work day gets stressful...
When things get stressful at work, at school, or even if you're just looking for work, it can be really tempting to just sit at the computer and keep going and going and going. You might feel guilty for not pushing harder or squeezing in more things. But I've actually found that taking a walk and getting fresh air is a great way to reset. I actually think it would be a great company program to have walk groups to make sure people aren't getting cooped up at work. What do you think?
When faced with an abrupt change in employment status...
Like many, I have been in the unfortunate situation of abruptly finding myself without a job. I don't mind telling you, in the moment, it's a completely demoralizing experience. When this did happen to me, there were a few steps I took so I could move forward productively:
1) I was gracious -- I thanked my employer for the opportunity and offered to expedited any needed transition. Why was I so nice? I don't believe in burning bridges. You're going to need former colleagues/co-workers for letters of recommendation and other references.
2) The very next day I went to my local unemployment office to make sure I was set for collecting unemployment and to check what resources they had to help me get back on my feet. I wanted to be as educated as I could be on what support services were available to me. Knowledge is power!
3) I took some time for self-reflection. It's not an easy thing to do -- it's a lot easier to feel hurt or angry and just stay that way. But that's not particularly productive. Unless your entire company/department was let go, I feel certain there are things about your own history (real or perceived) that can inform future behavior. Ask the hard questions! What could I have done differently to prevent this? Why me and not someone else? Take those answers and learn from them -- it will help prevent repeating the same behaviors in the future and minimize the chances that this happens more than once!