The loss of a job. It’s so common everyone has had it happen at least once in their life. But unemployment, is a bad word these days. It feels like as soon as you say it there are visions of vagabonds and laziness. I know that’s how I felt. Not that I was lazy or a vagabond, just it felt like I was a second class citizen. Even so much that when new people met me and asked what I do, I’d say I was a freelance designer. Which was not a lie, I have contracts, people pay me, it just wasn’t as much as my full-time employment.
I remember a long time ago, my mom told me that Unemployment Insurance was just that, insurance—it’s used as a means when something catastrophic happens and loosing your job is quite catastrophic. I never really understood it until this unemployment spell. You see, I’ve had—after college—three real jobs in my life.
The first one I halfway fell into, I temp’d and they found out I knew AutoCAD. I was hired soon after for a design position. Three years later, the market crashed and I was jobless. I wept. I loved that job. But I decided that I’d take a little vacation. I’d not had a vacation in three years. Two weeks later my mom cut out a little ad from the paper and gave it to me. I called, interviewed, and started my new design job within a few weeks. I was at that company for six years. It was lovely. But job security and my lack of forward life movement made me realize it was time to move on and do some traveling. I moved out of the country. About a week before I moved back to the United States a friend inquired where and when I was moving—they had a job opening. I interviewed, quite early, the day after I got home from a 10hr flight. I signed the offer letter two days later. So you see, in the last eight years, I’ve never had to deal (really) with being unemployed. There were job losses, but no real need for unemployment.
So what did unemployment teach me? It made me realize that there’s stages, almost like the grieving process. Maybe my process will help you if you are in the process of finding a job while unemployed. If you’re going through any of these, just know, it’s normal.
- Denial & Shock: For me, denial was that it wouldn’t take a long time to get a new job. Shock came in the form of indulgence and a lot of going out, something that I’d not done in a long time. There was a freedom in not having to go into work the next day.
- Acceptance: There comes that point when you actually sign up for unemployment, jump through all the hoops, and realize this may actually take longer than you thought.
- Resume depression: You’ve applied and sent out at least 50 resumes. You know it’s a numbers game but why hasn’t anyone called you for an interview?
- Interview depression: You’ve had a few, with different companies, a few you had to really screw up because you couldn’t fathom working for them. A few 2nd or 3rd interviews but still no offer letter or they’ve just completely dropped off the planet.
- Procrastination: Monday’s are horrible, clearly that’s the day to play video games. I’ll go through and apply to all the jobs on my list on Wednesday. Interviews? Those are best on a Friday right? That way the weekend is hopeful!
- Panic: This usually happens when you’ve spent half your savings and realize fuck, I need to send out more resumes.
- Emotional breakdown: This comes in different forms, for me it’s usually a good cry in the shower and me convincing myself that I’m talented, have the experience, and the knowledge for the jobs I’ve applied too. (to be fair, this may happen several times in the process and that’s okay)
- Offer letter: It only takes one, and as soon as you sign it you’re bound to get at least two more that’ll make you second guess if you picked the right job. You did. Don’t dwell.
- Pre-start date celebration: You need this. Don’t let it slip through your fingers. Be happy you’ve found a job. Be happy that you’ve started the next chapter in your job life. And for fuck’s sake, let someone buy you a beer. It’s been a long journey.