Leaving a job can happen for a lot of reasons, in my case I left my position at a social games startup because I felt like there was a lousy fit between my experience, passion and focus and the company’s direction, which did not include any emphasis on community or communications. I loved working there, but it was a bootstrapped startup running without investors. Sticking around just to go to work with friends every day, continuing to draw a salary that could better be spent on somebody better suited to the company’s current needs, wasn’t in anybody’s best interest.
When I left I had everything in order. I wrapped up all my loose ends, thoroughly documented anything that might be useful to my colleagues and replacement. I even waited until I had a part-time gig lined up and enough savings to cover living expenses for a couple of months. Although I’ve never had difficulty finding a job I figured covering my ass was the responsible thing to do.
Fast-forward to a few months later. The part-time gig turned out to be for somebody who didn’t end up paying, my savings are tapped out, my phone and inbox suffer from a decided lack of replies and my self-confidence gets a little worse with every passing day. Did I wake up in some parallel universe where the resume that always got me an interview which got me the job suddenly doesn’t even get a response?
Small consolation that Canada’s unemployment rate of 8% is lower than that of the neighbouring US. I’ve always liked to think of myself as a unique individual, but this is one of those times when I would love to be part of that 92% majority. I know I’m good at what I do, but I no longer feel like it, especially when somebody is yelling that they don’t see evidence that I do anything worthwhile with my days. Trust me, if you know somebody who is looking for work they probably already feel awful enough about themselves, you don’t need to add to it.
If you are now, or ever find yourself in, the same situation as me, here are a couple of things I anticipate will make the difference and get me back to where I want to be:
- Embrace your cheerleaders. People in your life will either be cheerleaders, trying to boost your confidence and help you out, or judges (usually unintentionally) who criticize and question you. It’s up to you to focus on the positive people rather than listen to the negative.
- Celebrate the small victories. In today’s digital era it’s increasingly likely that you’ll pick up piecemeal gigs discovered online. Sure, it’s not full-time, but it’s proof that you’re still capable and appealing.
- Establish a routine. Just because you no longer have to get out of bed at a given time for somebody else doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be up at a reasonable hour. Knowing what you need to do with your day eliminates wasted time and keeps you going when you might otherwise roll over and give up.
- Document everything you do. Keep track of every company you apply to, if possible keep copies of the job postings, keep copies of every cover letter and resume you send out. When you start to feel like you’re not doing anything worthwhile with your time because there haven’t been tangible results (yet) you can look back and see how busy you’ve been. If you start to focus on how the number as rejections rather than your efforts remember that the world is full of mediocre people who overlook talent. (Just ask William Golding, J.K. Rowling, George Orwell or Stephen King, all of whom were rejected multiple times.)
- Don’t give up. If you’re anything like me you started your job hunt off with great momentum and excitement. But after the first month or two that can turn into the wrong kind of inertia if you let it. When you catch yourself buying into judgemental comments, see #1.