The End of Unemployment: My Story and Tips (My Unemployment Story Part 1)

It is finally here! I have a job! I start next week and I couldn’t be happier to be contributing to society again. It wasn’t easy and I’m sure I’m not the only person that has (or will have to) go through this. So I want to share my experience and write a few posts about what I went through and how I got through it. Being unemployed is exhausting on many levels: emotionally, professionally, physically, and personally, and the only way to survive it is to believe you are constantly on the cusp of that next great opportunity.

A few facts:

  • 25 weeks without a job
  • 150 job applications
  • 14 networking events
  • 10 personal contacts
  • 4 career fairs
  • 17 phone interviews
  • 5 in-person interviews
  • 2 emotional breakdowns

What can you gather from this? Three things:

  1. I have these numbers
    • I know what these numbers are. Period. That means I kept track of what I did for each of those 175 days. Writing down your accomplishments as you go is important! It helps you know when to remind that recruiter again or check that top 3 company career page again. In case you didn’t know, in order to receive unemployment checks you do have to complete the minimum number of job submissions (for me it was 5) each week (and yes, I got audited and had to prove it).
  2. It is not easy
    • The hardest thing without a doubt is staying positive. I did go through tough money conversations, weight gain, avoiding old work friends, and more. Don’t feel guilty for feeling however you do. I felt it was impossible to find energy or fully relax. I even tried to have fun by trying T’ai Chi (bucket list, check!). It is a constant roller coaster with interview invites and rejections. You need to force yourself into some sort of balance in which can reward yourself and manage yourself. Visit family and friends out of town that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Sleep in and cry when you need it. Do whatever you want as long as your want to join the workforce again is the strongest desire and you actively work towards finding a new job all the time.
  3. Finding a job IS a job
    • You can definitely spend 40 hours a week applying to jobs. The truth is that you have nothing to show for it until it is all over. I didn’t laze around “happily living off the government’s dime”. I bet people surf Facebook on the job more than I did the past few months. Because no one has a manager when unemployed, active job seekers actually have 2 jobs to do: strategize as the boss AND do the work like an individual contributor. Oh, and you also need to be your own HR department for benefits and job satisfaction (self motivation).
For more on my story, check out Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4! I blog about what to do if you know someone unemployed, what I found entertaining about HR, and what I did to earn that next job. And my first post with my reaction that very first week is here. I hope my experience can help you if ever face the trials of unemployment.

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