Unemployed? No Time To Sit Around Sulking
There are only 24 hours in a day. You can choose to use them waiting for things to happen, or making them happen.
COVID-19 and Unemployment: Obstacle vs. Opportunity
It’s often said beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It means how we see things is completely our choice. This unprecedented window we’re in is no different. See it as an obstacle, and it will remain so. See it as an opportunity, and you’ll be taking advantage of it rather than let it take advantage of you.
Unemployment: Labor Market Outcomes
COVID-19 has been a shock to every facet of the economy. With lockdown measures in place, for too many job losses and furloughs seem like the norm, rather than the exception.
As many as 30 million people have claimed unemployment benefits in the U.S. since the pandemic started. -New York Times
According to historical research in the US, the crisis will only exacerbate the country’s income inequality. The gap between middle-income workers and higher-income workers will only increase as the pandemic continues. According to research conducted by the University of Cambridge, the pandemic has already contributed to income inequality in countries like the US, the UK, Germany, Japan, and Canada.
Unemployment: New Opportunities And Changes In The Labor Market
Just because the labor market is changing does not mean that it is all negative. Innovators can see the gaps in the labor market and come up with solutions. Where some may see a problem, others see a solution. It is all about seeing new opportunities and taking the initiative.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a rise in the use of eCommerce businesses and services. Social distancing and other COVID measures have forced businesses to alter the way business is conducted.
Between February and April 2020, retail and foodservice sales were down 7.7% within the United States. This is opposed to increased sales for grocery stores (16%) and eCommerce providers (14.8%).
The interest in digital solutions has been increasing exponentially over 2020 as more people prefer to shop online in the comfort of their own homes. With this comes a massive increase in the need for cybersecurity professionals' to ensure safe transactions and data security.
Unemployment: Physical & Mental Effects
Long-term Unemployment: The Dangers of Self-Pity You should always remember that self-pity is a choice, and when we fall into it, it will control our lives...heck, we’ve invited it to do so. Worse yet, it is a negative emotion, making it is easy to fall into a downward cycle of bitterness and resentment.
Don’t let self-pity take over your life.
Focusing on the hurt means that you are not focusing on taking control of your life. Dwelling on adverse circumstances saps your valuable energy and strength away from highlighting what you DO have to offer employers. Tenacity, determination, loyalty...these are all traits we possess. Take the strength you may be losing in wallowing and apply it to highlight the greatness you have inside you. Think about how you’d feel if someone applied to your job and threw the negative aside from the start instead of showing how it’s positive. “I’ve risen above challenging surroundings and circumstances to do several great things, given where I came from” is better than (effectively) saying, “I’ve got bills to pay, and I need this job.” You need to take responsibility for your life and choose to rise above your circumstances. You also need to take control of your narrative, not shying from admitting the challenges but not shying away from sharing the pride you have in persevering through them.
Depression Depression is a severe mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness and loss of interest and motivation. You begin to feel a loss of hope, maybe you ruminate on why you lost your previous job, and the positives we note up above just don’t get enough oxygen to rise to the surface.
The best case in a state of depression is you lose some of the motivation just to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving ahead (including pulling yourself up to find a new job). The worst-case puts you in medical danger. At an extreme, depression can lead to suicidal thoughts.
IF YOU EVER FEEL SUICIDAL, CALL FOR HELP. The national suicide prevention hotline is always staffed and ready to talk (800-273-8255).
Even if you are not feeling extreme, talking to a medical professional can help assess if there are chemical imbalances that may be getting in your way. The worst thing to do is nothing. There are strategies and medications available to help those that need it to get back on the right track with their mind/body balance. Contact someone if you feel this is part of what’s challenging you.
Stress Depression’s brother-in-arms is stress. We all have some levels, even if just from various family dynamics. How will you keep up with your rent, buy food, get some gifts for the holidays? (For this last one, see our suggestions for a low-cost/free holiday season).
Even if you didn’t love a job, it most likely provided a social outlet and some daily structure. Various government assistance can help with income loss. The structure and the social aspect are entirely replaceable. It takes a little effort but set up a schedule for each day. Set a goal to reach out to three people you like (maybe one with whom you’ve not spoken in ages). Set a time block where you know you can search job postings relatively uninterrupted. Make sure you wake up and tell the kids you need 15 minutes to do stretches and a few situps. These are all free and EXTREMELY powerful tools to help activate endorphins in the body that are medically proven to keep stress levels down. Losing this causes a lot of stress and can leave you feeling hurt and anxious about what the future holds.
Effects of Long-term Unemployment
In March 2020, there were 1.2 million long-term unemployed individuals in the United States. This was before the COVID-19 pandemic. As of October 2020, the number is precisely three times higher. Again, don’t choose to look at that as a source of further frustration. Look at it as a way of knowing that you are not alone (and therefore, it’s less a “you” issue).
There are two main categories of long-term unemployment – cyclical and structural. Cyclical is due to an economic recession, and structural is when the worker’s skills do not meet the requirements laid out by the industry. You have little control over the cyclical, however, the structural is WELL within your control.
DO NOT let unemployment extend any feelings of anxiety or stress.
These feelings will trickle into other areas of job search, networking, and interviewing. Use the time to your advantage. Consider this ‘downtime’ a positive, and choose to upskill yourself. We have written extensively about ways to do this (actually, it’s the only reason we exist). KP is happy to be a resource to guide you through options (no pressure, but feel free to get in touch with our STAR navigators so we can offer ideas for in-demand skills). There are many government resources available to help you do this at no cost. There’s so much funding available many of the resources go unclaimed.
Unemployment Guide: Getting Ready for the New Year
Loss of employment does not and should not translate into a loss of hope. Your first step is to change the way you view unemployment and job search. Viewing things negatively will seep into your job search. Hiring managers will see it. It may be hard to see now, but trust us that the most fundamental shift you must force into your thinking is the fact that all the negative that’s happened puts you in a position of strength to handle little things like an employer’s work-related challenges. Find a way to convey that in your own words.
Despite COVID’s hit for everyone, we are slowly returning to what most call the “new normal.” Your new normal must include some routine. Here is a quick guide to getting you started and ready for the new year:
- Form a plan. Start the new year off with a plan - don’t just wing it. Having a plan and clear goals will help you keep moving forward as you will work to do what you’ve set out for yourself. Make the goals concrete, not general (“I want to get a job” is not as useful as “I need to submit my resume to four employers per day, and follow up with each three days later”).
- Keep a work schedule. Consider yourself employed by yourself in the pursuit of getting employed by someone else. Not only will it trick your mind away from the mindset of being “unemployed” (and it’s stress-related side-effects), but it will give you a job to do each day. Do not sleep until noon and binge-watch the latest streaming offerings from Disney or HBO. Wake up early. Activate your action plan. Do some concrete set of things to develop your skills. Structure of the time you have. It’ll pay off.
- Get certification. With regard to developing your skills, take this time to improve your qualifications by gaining a certificate you can showcase for a job. As we noted earlier, we’ve been at this for years. Be sure to check out Kinetic Potential’s certification programs for in-demand careers.
You hold all the keys to ensuring you are not left alone to deal with a challenging time. Don’t exclude taking care of your mental and physical health. Make a plan. Let us help, or others help if you’re ready for a new chapter to begin.