I’ve been unemployed for seven months. It has been seven months filled with the highest of highs and the lowest of lows.
On one hand, I’m glad to be free of the prison-like confinement I felt being around my previous boss. I’m glad I’m not in an environment that celebrates toxic-masculinity and treats women as though the only thing they bring to the table is boobs.
On the other hand, I miss work. I miss financial independence. I miss the feeling that I felt when I was contributing to something, when I was making a difference to someone’s (not in my office) day.
I looked in my resume folder last night and I realized that it now has more than 200 files in it. 200 resumes. 200 times I was rejected. 200 times I was said no to. 200 times I tried and it didn’t work out.
I’ve been applying for employment throughout the past seven months. I’ve applied for career positions, for retail positions, for casual positions, for any position that I thought might allow me to start earning a pay cheque again. I’ve been hired and had my job offer rescinded after I signed contracts and employment paperwork, I’ve made it to the final round, I’ve been one of the last two candidates for them to choose from, I’ve had people ignore my resume, I’ve had scammers tell me that I need to pay $4,000 as a security deposit before I can work for them. I’ve been to good interviews and bad interviews, I’ve wasted my time trying to hunt people down and I’ve spent a lot of time on interviews and conversations that didn’t end up going anywhere.
I’ve been through it all and, through it all, these are the things that my unemployment has taught me.
Always, always, ALWAYS review your resume. The most embarrassing thing you can do for yourself is to send off a resume with the wrong company name on it, or with spelling mistakes. Whether you’ve sent off 3 or 4 resumes, or 200 resumes, ensure you’re reviewing and spell-checking every time you curate your resume.
Curate your resume. Every time. As annoying as it is, it will stand out a whole lot more if you’ve got it curated to the job your applying for. Everyone on earth can write standard skills for standard employment on a resume. If you want ‘this’ job, then curate your resume to showcase skills that would make you an asset for ‘this’ job.
Rejection is not about you. Think of it this way: most often, you’re competing against hundreds of candidates for a position. As one of hundreds of candidates, if your resume doesn’t even make it into the ‘read’ pile, that says nothing about you. Sometimes, they only read the resumes of those who are local. Sometimes, they only read the first 300 resumes they get instead of all 800. I know what you’re thinking… that’s silly. Why would they only read 300 of 800 resumes, they’re missing out on so many candidates. The newsflash here is… most companies don’t give a damn. They really don’t. I’ve seen this in action. Though they’d never say it publicly, the previous office I worked in would eliminate all resumes from the pile for, management positions, if the candidate had a female’s name on their resume. If they had a name that is more gender neutral (where it could be a guy or a girl), they’d go into the maybe pile. They’d only move to the gender neutral named candidates if they couldn’t find the person they want in the resumes that were clearly men. I guarantee you that my former office is not the only place on earth where things like this happen.
Don’t feel bad about lying to put yourself ahead. Companies don’t care about you. They don’t. If you need to state that you’re living in a place in order to get them to consider you as a ‘local candidate’, say that. If you need to have your best friend pretend that he/she worked with you at your last job in order to get a reference, do that. Companies are putting themselves first, so do the same thing for yourself.
DO NOT be afraid to correct a potential employer. I’ve been called the wrong names… multiple times, I’ve had companies read form the wrong person’s resume to ask me questions… in front of me. I’ve had companies imply things about me that weren’t true and I’ve had companies speculate things they have no business in asking. When you’re unemployed, it’s easy to sit and be quiet about these things because you worry that if you speak up they won’t like you and you’ll miss the opportunity. I’m telling you right now, honestly, it’s far more important for you to stick up for yourself then to fall quiet and be seen as a push-over. Do not let a company ask you when you plan on having children. Do not let a company call you the wrong name. Let them know who you are and that you’re strong enough to speak up for yourself.
If it doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. I had a company tell me that in order to work for them I needed to pay a $4,000 security deposit. I was told that it’s a ‘normal thing and that all employees have to do it’. There is no security deposit required to work. None at all. There are, however, a lot of people in this world ready and willing to scam the vulnerable. If you feel as though someone is scamming you, they probably are. Be mindful of what companies are saying and trust your gut.
You are strong, you will get through this. Deep in the throws of unemployment, it can often feel as though you’re never going to get a job. It’s easy to get ‘down in the dumps’. Though it seems as though it’s never going to end, it will. You’re talented, smart and a viable candidate for many a positions. Don’t let your current situation define your future. Don’t let your head win.
Use each devastating blow as fuel to the fire. Having my job offer rescinded just three days before I was supposed to have my first day of work… it broke my heart. It really did. I think it’s important to remember in times like these, though, that I still got the job. I still was their candidate selected. And I dodged a bullet now that I’m not working for them. Turn those negative thoughts into positives and use it as motivation for your future job applications, future interviews and future opportunities.
Seek help. Accept help. Use help. Wherever you find it, however it comes about in your life, help is a good thing. Whether it’s someone to vent your frustrations to, someone to read over your cover letter or someone give you money, no questions asked, so your bills get paid… use the help. Don’t be too proud. If you’re lucky enough to have people offer help when you need it, take advantage of it when you get it. There’ll be a time in the future when you can pay it forward.
Remember your worth. There are a lot of companies in 2019 who list egregious qualifications and education requirements for positions where they’re only opting to pay minimum wage, if that (a lot of companies are trying to turn these positions into internships). Don’t ever allow a company to make you feel as though you’re worth less than you are as a means to pigeon hole you into a run of the mill position in a sub-standard office. If you have a means of holding out for the right position, do that. And if you don’t have those means, take the position that pays minimum wage, but take it ‘for-now’ and don’t stop looking for your dream job. Because it’s out there and you deserve it.
Find and effective means for managing stress. Unemployment is stressful as heck. You need an outlet to help you get through. So find that outlet and make use of it. Whether it’s yoga, a good book, screamo music or whatever helps you destress, find it and use it.
If it doesn’t work out, it’s probably for the best.
Don’t stop. Don’t ever stop.
Unemployment isn’t easy. It’s one of the most difficult things that anyone can go through, quite honestly. I think the biggest thing you can remember through a trying time like this is to just keep going. Keep your support system close and make use them, every step of the way. Whether it’s for a cup of coffee, help with your resume creation or just And don’t ever stop. In the words of Ayn Rand, “the world you desire can be won. It exists.. it is real.. it is possible.. it’s yours.”