Virginia Bola

Article Summary:

How to retain a sense of your own personal value during a long, stressful job search.

Retaining Your Personal Value While Unemployed

A week out of work is a vacation. You can sleep late in the morning, revel in your newly found free time, shop when the stores are empty, and get around to those chores you have been putting off for too long.

Three weeks out of work and you are still relaxed. There is a new and better position waiting out there and you just need to get around to finding it.

Six weeks out of work and you are getting anxious. Fifty resumes have vanished into a black hole and the telephone refuses to ring.

Twelve weeks out of work and panic starts to set in. You review your recent efforts to find work and seem to be doing all the right things. You start to doubt yourself: Am I too old? Are my skills outdated? Are the industries I know all dying? Are there any decent jobs out there? Is there something wrong with me? Does nobody need me?

Take a deep breath and remind yourself that no matter what optimistic spin the government trumpets, it is tough to find a good job when new job seekers exceed the number of jobs created. A 5 to 6 percent unemployment rate means that every job which arises has potentially eight million applicants! Then sit down and look at yourself from a new perspective.

1. You have the personal qualities employers are seeking, such as persistence, loyalty, energy, independence, enthusiasm, responsibility, punctuality, maturity, empathy, flexibility, sincerity, and tolerance.

2. You have general job skills which work in any industry: negotiating, inventiveness, sensitivity, understanding, creativity, the ability to write clearly, assemble things, or operate machinery and experience in computing, classifying, investigating, evaluating, or synthesizing data.

3. You have specific job skills which have been acquired in all of your previous work experience.

4. You have multiple layers of value as a significant other, a parent, a brother or sister, a child, a friend, a community worker. List out each area as a reminder that not finding a job does not mean that you are worthless. Reread the list several times a week, keep adding to it as you remember skills, read it before every interview or employer contact.

The world may not seem to need you right now but it is important that you know your own worth and stop buying into that sense of incompetency and despair that prolonged unemployment (caused by economic and political forces, not by you personally) can produce.

Virginia Bola, PsyD is a licensed clinical psychologist who operated a vocational rehabilitation firm for more than 20 years. She studies the emotional effects of unemployment, aging, overweight, and social issues on the individual.  Her first book, The Wolf at the Door: An Unemployment Survival Manual addressed the emotional aspects of unemployment, provided psychological support for the rigors of the job search, and incorporated proven techniques for obtaining successful work. Her new (2005) book, Diet With An Attitude: A Weight Loss Workbook, approaches weight control through psychological strategies to permanently modify the body-food relationship. Visit her sites at DietWithAnAttitude.com and UnemploymentBlues.com.

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