DEALING with unemployment is a job in and of itself. If you are unemployed, the first step you must take is not to allow your confidence to be seriously eroded.
When the Shock Wears Off
Confidence IS the key to getting yourself back into the working sector. Typically, those who have just been laid off or dismissed find it difficult to believe that they no longer have work to do. Then, as the shock wears off, a certain complacent numbness sets in. Some few see their new state as a temporary "extended holiday" from work. Most others experience the helplessness and frustration of standing in long lines at government employment offices. Many begin to despair that they may never find work again. Others turn to destructive behavior — drunkenness or verbal, even physical abuse of their spouses or children. In one U.S. study covering a 34-year period, Johns Hopkins University sociologist M. Harvey Brenner observed that for every 1 percent increase in the national unemployment rate, across the country there was a 4.1 percent increase in suicide, a 3.4 percent increase in state prison admissions and a 5.7 percent increase in the homicide rate. Some societies are less sympathetic to the problem of unemployment than others. In Italy, for instance, someone who is unemployed is viewed as simply waiting for the right economic opportunity. In Japan unemployment is a disgrace. If you are recently unemployed, here are some steps you can take to avoid many of the pitfalls being jobless can cause.
Eight Steps to Take
• Immediately assess your financial situation. Work out a new budget that is painfully realistic. Talk with a public credit counseling service if you can't work out a budget for yourself. Notify your creditors and see if arrangements can be made to lower some payments. • Prepare for at least six months of unemployment. In many nations it isn't unusual to be unemployed for more than a year. This has been the case with nearly one out of every four members of the French work force. • Make a job of getting a job. Set goals and objectives. Know what kind of job you want. This will narrow your job search. Public libraries or government employment agencies can help you out with pamphlets or other information detailing job descriptions and requirements. • Get out of the house at the appropriate times. Keep in a routine of getting up early. Don't sit around watching television all day. Meet people. Make it known that you want a job. Expand your informal connections to various job sectors through friends and acquaintances. If these people can't offer you a job, ask them for leads or introductions to those who might be able to help. Don't be afraid to ask. In many cases, private recommendations go further than those from government employment agencies. And many businesses would rather turn to a bit of nepotism than be swamped by the masses of individuals answering a job advertisement for a single position. Often, it is "who you know" that counts. • Knock on some doors. Bypass the common first step — Personnel Office — if possible. Try to get in to see those who do the hiring. Leave a neatly prepared summary of your qualifications, experience, education and personal information with each manager. If you live in the United States or Canada, you can determine who the managers are by going to your library and asking the reference librarian for listings such as Poor's Register of Corporations, Directors and Executives or some other such list of who runs what firm. If you live in other lands, ask for equivalent lists. Or call the company directly and ask, "Who is the manager of this firm?" By being your own employment agency, you will more quickly be employed in one of those 4 out of 5 vacancies that traditionally are usually only known by employers and who fill them by word of mouth. • Accept the possibility that you may have more than one career in your lifetime. Employment studies indicate that in the future, one may have as many as three or four careers in a lifetime. Make the most of your time by reading about those fields that are up and coming. Where are they located? If available, seek to get into job training programs in those fields. Be prepared to relocate if absolutely necessary. • Take advantage of government job training programs and seminars. Look upon your situation as a time for self-assessment and education in new skills. • Above all, do not underestimate the power of prayer. Many look upon God as a last resort. When all else has failed and there is nowhere else to turn, we seek the help of the one whom we should have turned to first. Be persistent. God knows your needs before you ask. But you must ask (Matt. 6:8, Jas. 4:2). Then step out in faith and with knowledge into the new job opening.