Putting together the last post reminded me of the experience of unemployment (it may have been him without a job, but there was no doubt that we were in it together). It also set me thinking about what got us through. My mantra through the whole thing was “nothing lasts forever” – not plague, pestilence, nor even Tory governments. Things will get better. There will be a job, eventually. The trick is dealing with the period between losing a job and having one again. I’m not qualified to offer “how to find a job” advice, but here are some tips on keeping the shreds of your sanity together while you do:
1. Do not under any circumstances define yourself by the state of being unemployed (equally when you get a job do not define yourself by that either. Experience shows that these things are fleeting. Look at Ireland.) You are not a successful human being because you have a six-figure salary, nor are you an unsuccessful human being if you sign on. The important thing is what kind of human being you are, not what you do (or don’t) for a living.
2. Do not take it personally if you have been made redundant. You are not a bad person, a poor employee, or doomed to fail. You are just, unfortunately, at the wrong end of a harsh set of circumstance which prove nothing about your skills, intelligence or performance in your job and are no indicator of what might happen in future.
3. Continue to make plans for the future – not just things you are going to do when you get another job, but plans for now. There is nothing worse than living a life with the pause button pressed waiting for a job offer to start things moving again. We were young and foolish, with no family ties and fortunate that I had a secure job, so we blithely talked about buying a home together (remember when you could do that in London on one salary?) and joked about him waving me off to work before he set to with the Hoover. We did it, too.
4. Use your time off constructively – start that novel, learn to play the bassoon, take up tap-dancing and go to the gym. Or do some volunteer work, learn a language, get politically active. When the job comes (because as we know, nothing lasts forever) you will kick yourself for spending all that time gloomily searching for a job and bemoan the fact that you only have 25 days-off a year. Yes, your priority is to find a job, but there are 24 hours in every day. Even accounting for sleeping, eating and polishing your CV that still leaves time to…
5. Do something nice for yourself every day (oh, OK, every week if you’re really Puritan) You’re having a hard time. You deserve it.