Dealing With Unemployment Like a Man

by Brett & Kate McKay on October 5, 2008 · 40 comments

in Money & Career

Unemployment for anyone is tough. Being an unemployed man is even tougher. Studies have shown that men who are unemployed are more depressed and more prone to substance abuse than women who are similarly out of work.  Studies have also shown that men who are unemployed and in a relationship are more likely to physically abuse their partner than men who are employed. The reasons that researches give are twofold. First, men tend to find their identity in their job. Think about it. When you first meet a person, what question do they always ask you right off the bat? Probably, “What do you do?” When a man loses a job, he often loses a big part of his identity. Second, men, particularly married men, view themselves as the breadwinner in the family. Despite feminists’ efforts to change the perception of man as breadwinner, most men still believe this responsibility rests primarily on their shoulders. When a man can no longer provide for those he cares about, it can be a damaging blow to his manhood.

In this uncertain economy of ours, unemployment can strike a man at any moment. In order to thwart the feelings of worthlessness a man can have when he’s unemployed, here are 11 suggestions for maintaining your manly vigor.

1. Don’t be a bum. Our natural tendency in dealing with unemployment is to devolve into a huge bumdom. Sure you’re depressed. And yeah, lying around in your pajamas and playing Halo 3 all day will probably help you forget your troubles for awhile. But you’re not going to fix your unemployment problem by numbing it with bum-o-caine. While you’re busy earning the perfection medal on Halo, job opportunities are passing you by. Moreover, becoming a bum will only make you more depressed, which will only further sap your motivation for finding new employment.

2. Reflect on your career. Getting laid off is a good a time to evaluate the career path that you’ve been pursuing. Perhaps your layoff reflects a change in the economy that may affect the future viability of your career. If so, now is a good time to consider getting into something else.

3. Update your resume. If you’ve been employed for a while, you probably haven’t updated your resume for some time. Because you’ll be applying for new jobs, you’ll need to freshen it up.

4. Contact your contacts. Believe it or not, people like to help other people. Especially people they know and like. Call on your social network to help you find a job. Send a mass email out to everyone in your contact list explaining your situation. Include a resume as well and a description of the kind of work you’re looking for. You’re guaranteed to find a few leads from this. Also, take advantage of online social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Send a message to your “friends” to let them know you’re looking for a job.

5. Read. You’re not working, so you have plenty of free time. Instead of sitting around drinking beer and feeling sorry for yourself, put that time to good use by reading. Start off by reading books that can help increase your knowledge in your career. If you’re a programmer, read up on new code. If you’re in sales, read books on improving your leads. You get the idea. Don’t forget to include books that will help you become a more well-rounded man. The 100 Must Read Books for Men is a good place to start.

6. Freelance. Just because you’re not working doesn’t mean your bills are going to stop coming. You still have to make ends meet. While having an emergency fund will help cover most costs during unemployment, it’s always nice to have money coming in. Take a look at your skills and see if you have any that you could freelance.

7. Volunteer. Nothing puts your problems in perspective better than helping those with bigger problems than yours. By volunteering, you’ll make yourself feel useful and help prevent any feelings of depression that can come with unemployment. Also, volunteering is a great chance to network with other volunteers who might help you land a paying gig.

8. Inventory your finances. If you think you’re going to be unemployed for a while, it’s a good idea to take an inventory of your finances to see what you have. Make a list of all your assets- cash, investments, and real estate- and make a monthly budget.

9. Hit the streets. There are only so many times you can troll monster.com and check your phone for messages. If all of your leads have dried up, then it’s time to hit the streets and wear out the soles of your shoes. Go from business to business and try to get some face time with potential employers. Applications often get lost in a HR black hole. I’ve gotten a couple of great jobs simply by showing up in person after I had submitted my app and introducing myself to the employer. They scheduled an interview right there on the spot.

Even if you don’t land a job this way, making yourself go door to door will force you to get out of your pajamas, shower, shave, get dressed nicely, and leave the house. All these things will lift your mood considerably. Any activity, however fruitless, will make you feel better at the end of the day than knowing you sat at home in your slippers.

10. Eat a slice of humble pie. If you’ve been unemployed for awhile, have gone to lots of interviews, but haven’t gotten any callbacks, you might want to explore the possibility that you’re doing something wrong. During interviews, you might be presenting yourself in a manner that is turning people off. The next time you don’t get a callback, give the employer ring. Ask the person who interviewed you to be very honest as to why they didn’t consider you for the position. They’ll still probably sugarcoat it a bit, but you’ll be able to read between the lines and see where you can improve. This takes a lot of pride swallowing, but it’s worth it.

11. Do it now, dammit! Make this your motto during your unemployment. Don’t wait to take action until things are just right; circumstances will never be ideal. Take steps, no matter how small, each day to getting back on the path to employment.

Do you have any suggestions on dealing with unemployment? Drop a suggestion in the comment box and add to the list.

{ 40 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SaintJer October 5, 2008 at 7:38 pm

Great post and unfortunately more necessary in our modern economic climates.

2 Kevin October 5, 2008 at 7:49 pm

After the tech crash and 9/11, I hit rock bottom and was without full time employment for over a year. I’d love to be some fount of advice, but all I can say is I made it through. It didn’t kill me, so by definition it made me stronger no matter how I may look back and beat myself up for not playing my hand differently.

And ultimately, I became a stronger man in a career with greater reward and promise than my old career in tech. Of course, if somebody had told me that this would be so when I was in the depths of my struggles, I’m not sure that it would have meant much to me.

Hold on to the ones you love and be the best man you can be. In that sense, living in the valley really isn’t different from living at the peak.

3 R***** October 5, 2008 at 8:42 pm

It’s not that I don’t bother to look for a job, it’s just that certain people expect me to “dance” for them when they know I am well suitable for the job. Why bother if they play games?

4 Arsh October 6, 2008 at 12:28 am

Nice blog.

That picture is the same one as the front cover of the latest TIME magazine :)

5 Daniel Richard October 6, 2008 at 1:07 am

Another point to add: Playing Games

I remember reading a book on the Parker Brothers on how during the last economic recession way back in WW1 or WW2 periods, they got to motivate the entire nation through various boardgames that they had released.

Of course one game which took off was Monopoly! That got people to be psyched up and wanting to get their dreams back alive of having a great life.

6 David Barnes October 6, 2008 at 3:28 am

I look back on my (short) period of unemployment as a wasted opportunity. You have free time in the house or out and about during the day. If you can’t be a full time job seeker, just find ways to enjoy your time so that you can look back on your ‘sabbatical’ fondly.

Also look for other ways to define yourself besides your career. You have time to be a good husband, father, son, friend or whatever in other ways now. You have the gift of time so use it.

If you have a list of jobs to do around the house — putting up pictures and so on — you’d better do them now or you’ll look like a REAL loser!

7 Kevin October 6, 2008 at 7:26 am

Amen to David. I spent a ton of time and energy on pointless effort and negative thoughts. If I’d had a more open mind I might have actually enjoyed the process a lot more.

8 Nick Rachielles October 6, 2008 at 8:16 am

Just wanted to say thanks for a great article! Im recently unemployed and I definitely needed this little checklist to help me get my rear in gear. Love the blog, and definitely will be subscribing.

9 Robert October 6, 2008 at 9:32 am

This comes just at the right time for me. I am recennty in the job market right out of school, this really helps.

Another tip of advice/personal story:
I was at an open house for a defense company here in Silicon Valley. I went to the open house expecting, maybe 300 people to show up along side me. I was very surprised to find 3000 other applicants stretching around the block. Needless to say, I was very worried, along with the 3000 other friends that I was in line with. So I did what I needed to do. I manned up.

I looked around me and saw an opportunity in the challenge. I started to talk to the other people in line. We all started chatting and sharing the stories. I was talking to people whose first computers were Bell telephone switchboards, graybeards. In fact, I got to hand my resume out to more people in that line than in the open house, and others did too. It turned from a 1930′s job line to a resume fair out on the street.

That is a small example of what men do. They hold themselves up and help others too.

Thanks for the post, it comes at the right time for me, and (hopefully) not too many others.

10 Brett October 6, 2008 at 9:39 am

@ Robert- Thanks for sharing your story. That’s was some quick and creative thinking.

@ Nick- Glad you enjoyed the post. Thanks for subscribing to the site.

@ David- Great suggestion on getting stuff done around the house and focusing on your family.

@ Daniel- Interesting story about board games. I didn’t know that. Do you by chance know the name of that book?

@ Kevin- Glad to see you came out better from your period of unemployment. I think sometimes unemployment can be a blessing in disguise because it really forces you to evaluate your life.

11 Ethan October 6, 2008 at 9:59 am

For Men who find themselves, or may soon find themselves in situations that may be worse than just being unemployed (such as being homeless), I discovered this little jem a while ago:

http://guide2homelessness.blogspot.com/

12 Kevin October 6, 2008 at 10:16 am

I was laid off and was out of work for 6 months. The thing that kept me sane was to set objectives for myself. I wanted two interviews and sent out 25 resumes a month. Additionally, I did extracurricular activities such as re-landscaping the backyard, connecting with my kid, and learning how to cook (not only saved me from going insane, but saved us a big load of money).

It’s all about the objectives. Set them up early, and work everyday to accomplish something.

13 MarcJ October 6, 2008 at 12:14 pm

Another way to stay busy is by staying up on household chores and getting through the honey-do list. It is very rewarding to accomplish something even when things might not be going your way. Mow and fix up the yard, clean out the garage, fix the door latch, etc. As a bonus, If you end up having to relocate, you are that much ahead.

14 David Coit October 6, 2008 at 5:02 pm

I’m now retired and happy as I can be. When I was a working man and found myself out of work I developed a very quick way to find a new job.
In the first place, I took on looking for work as my full time job. I kept the same schedule, went to my favorite coffee shop, bought my paper, read the news, comics and then turned to the help wanted pages and circled all the job openings in my career path, If There were no new openings then I circled the part time openings that were not exactly in my field but I could do while still looking for the job I really wanted.
Then I would book three interviews a day/ five days a week if possible. Since I did home sales, I knew that my track record was if I got thee appointments I would get one sale. Now the trick was getting three quality appointments. I screened the job openings just as I would screen a sales appointment being as sure as I could that the job prospect was a good appointment.
I was never out of work long.
I now work just as hard and long as a volunteer in my community and I love life.
Happy job hunting brothers, its all good if you don’t cave in.

15 Britt October 6, 2008 at 5:29 pm

hmmm, and despite feminist rhetoric, most women in the US still sort men based on their perceived ability as providers. So, an unemployed man knows that many women no longer view him as a man, as he can not be a provider.

16 Rodney Hampton October 6, 2008 at 5:33 pm

This job market is about to become even more competitive.

17 Matt October 6, 2008 at 6:12 pm

I’m a retained executive recruiter and know the hardships of the unemployed all too well. A couple of additional suggestions. The absolute best and fastest way to get a new job is to network. This has to be done while you’re working, obviously, but expanding your network will get you the job you want and fast. If you discover an open job that you want to apply for, finding someone who personally knows the hiring authority and can recommend you for the job will work wonders on moving you toward the top of the pile and securing you an interview.

You’ll also need an elevator speech about why you’re unemployed. Never lie, but if you were fired for cause, you may want to consider crafting a story that avoids the topic as best as possible. Most employers won’t disclose the reason for separation and will generally only verify position and dates of employment unless you give specific, written authorization for them to release your personnel record.

Finally, try recruiters. Job boards don’t typically work. Nor do newspaper ads. The volume of resumes received is just too great for yours to stand out in the piles. There are three kinds of recruiters (other than military): internal company recruiters, retained recruiters and contingent recruiters. If you’re looking for a job fast, contingent recruiters have many, many jobs available for filling and can place you quickly. They are only paid when a candidate is placed in a job, so their motivation is to get you placed as soon as possible. Retained recruiters, on the other hand, get paid regardless of whether or not they are successful in filling the open position. They take longer and generally try and find passive candidates as currently employed candidates are seen as a lesser risk to the recruiting firm (they offer guarantees on the candidates they recommend). One word on recruiters, if you contact a contingent recruiter, don’t tell them you’re working with other contingent recruiters. They will be less inclined to help you if they think other recruiters are shopping you. If you talk to a recruiter and submit your resume, if you don’t hear back from them within 72 hours, move on – they have.

You can find a list of every recruiter nationwide (by name, region and specialty) in a book by Kennedy Publishing.

Happy hunting!

18 Brett October 6, 2008 at 7:00 pm

A sad example of what unemployment can do to a man: http://www.cnn.com/2008/CRIME/10/06/california.murder.suicide/index.html

19 Chris October 6, 2008 at 7:41 pm

Back in 2002, I was laid off. I was fortunate that I was set up financially to easily stay out of work for quite some time. This is the number #1 thing that a man has to’ve done ahead of time. People depend on you. You need to be in a financial position that you can be out of work for a while if such a thing were to happen.

The 2nd thing was that I set my alarm every morning and got up. At 730 most every morning, I was up, out of bed, showered, shaved and dressed. I didn’t always focus on job hunting (I was burned out enough that, to be honest, I went a looooong time before I even started to look for a job).

In the end, I was out of work for just over 20 months. I went back to school and finished my degree, cooked dinner every night, biked 20 miles a day, worked around the house and completed many projects that I’d been putting off. And yes, every once in a while, I’d sit at home and play Vice City for 15 hours straight.

When I finally did get a job, my first thought was that i didn’t have time to have a job, since I was so busy. Because I’d prepared for it, I am able to look back on that time extremely fondly.

I had no idea that I could go so long without working, but I did without incurring a ton of debt. By getting up and getting on with life, I was amazed at how cheaply I could live and how long I could stretch out my reserves.

I tell people constantly that if you can get out of the rat race for a coupla years and just enjoy life, do it. That was a most excellent time of my life. By the time I went back to work, I was really ready to have a job again.

20 Josh October 6, 2008 at 7:48 pm

As a recent college graduate, I can say that I whole-heartedly agree with this post. I did each and every one of those the wrong way. I was a bum. Drank too much, smoked too much (cigarettes, not anything else. Still bad, though). Just in general sat around and was a bum, waiting for the the jobs to come for me. Looking back, I am disgusted with myself. I used to be such a disciplined person. But the depression of not having a job really gets to you.(And I wasn’t even in bad shape. This was -before- I even graduated.) Retrospect is a gift, though. I can seen now what I was and I will never be it again.

The biggest gem of knowledge that I gleaned from my “predicament” was this: Keep moving. There’s nothing to get you down more than sitting on your ass and feeling sorry for yourself.

21 Linda October 7, 2008 at 5:13 am

Great list. My husband hasn’t worked since December of 2005 when he lost the business he had run for several years. It took him until September of 2007 to get his shit together. He is now a full-time student and Mr. Mom to our beautiful baby. There was nothing I could say or do to encourage him and I didn’t quite understand how he could be so bummed about being a bum and yet not do a damn thing about it. I didn’t realize how depressed he was. He pretty much just played Everquest until he snapped out of it.

22 Ben October 7, 2008 at 5:39 am

When I lost my job in 2006, I was devastated at first trying to figure out how I was going to pay my bills. I made just over minimum wage working a job I hated, so I didn’t really have any money squirreled away in case of a “rainy day”.

It turns out that losing my job was one of the best things to happen to me. Since then, I’ve been able to spend a great deal of my time working on furthering my art and building my design portfolio doing the occasional freelance illustration gig. To help pay the bills, I work weekends at a bar making close to what I made at my previous job working 40 hours a week.

My budget is a bit tighter than it was, but I have a lot more free time to be able to work on the Mt. Everest size pile of ideas and projects I’ve been meaning to do for years. It’s also given me the motivation to decide to move to a different state and possibly go back to college.

Eventually, I’ll re-join the workforce full time, but I know I will be doing it for a company I actually want to work for rather than whatever I can get.

23 David C. October 7, 2008 at 5:52 am

12. Get a temporary job delivering pizzas or throwing newspapers.

I’ve been there. It sucks. But a temporary, part-time job (even one delivering pizzas 3 or 4 evenings per week) gives you a chance to get out, earn a little money, but still leaves plenty of free time during the day to hunt for the job you love.

Temporary, part-time work usually reserved for high school students is nothing glamorous, but it sure beats the discouragement of being completely unemployed, and it makes you appreciate you’re new job (the one you will get eventually, if you stick to it long enough) when that day finally comes.

24 Cameron October 7, 2008 at 6:06 am

one thing that i tried to avoid when looking for a job was comparing myself to others. I compared to other people I knew that were looking for jobs in my field. I compared myself to my brother when he was looking for a job, to my dad when he was looking for a job. It did nothing but frustrate me and get me down.

I knew what worked best for me. I knew what I needed to do. I just needed to do it. Instead of psyching myself out by thinking that Jim Bob over there sent out 500 resumes in 2 months, I set my own schedule and organized myself. I focused on my own needs and tried not to compare myself to someone in a completely different situation.

I saved myself a lot of anguish and was able to find a job I love.

25 Chris October 7, 2008 at 6:40 am

@David C. – “12. Get a temporary job delivering pizzas or throwing newspapers.”

Absolutely. i was amazed by how many people I knew after the tech crash who assured me that they were too good to do this or that kind of job.

I spent a lot of years mowing lawns and working fast food back in the day. I didn’t get it at the time, but 20 years later, I’m well aware that I’m not. too good for any job. There are jobs I’d rather have, of course, but i do not have too much dignity to go back to ‘that kind’ of job.

I’ve thought about it wrt to my son (who is 15mo). As a father, I want to make his life as easy as possible, but learning early that hard work to keep food on the table is not beneath you is a very important lesson.

26 Brett October 7, 2008 at 7:12 am

Great comments everyone. I’m enjoying reading your stories on how you handled unemployment.

@ Josh- Couldn’t agree more. You got to keep moving.

@ Linda- Sorry to hear about your husband’s bum-i-ness, but I’m glad to hear he snapped out of it.

@ Ben- Good to hear that unemployment has been a blessing in disguise. Good luck with your projects.

@ David C. and Chris- No job should be below a person. Work is as lowly as you make it. If you have to be a pizza deliveryman for a bit, be the best damn pizza deliveryman you can be.

@ Cameron- I’m happy to see you’re enjoying your job.

27 John October 7, 2008 at 11:29 am

I couldn’t agree more on volunteering. When I was out of work for 5 months in 2001, I fell in with my local chapter of Habitat for Humanity. I worked once a week with a bunch of other guys, most of whom were retired – either permantly or “temporarily” like me. It helped me meet new people in the community, but more importantly it gave me a sense of contributing to a larger effort, and feel like I was doing something to support my family — by remaining upbeat and involved — even if it wasn’t helping our financial situation.

My pastor (Episcopal) actually offered some useful advice as I was going through the experience that I still reflect upon and with which I think both Christians and non-Christians alike can identify. He advised me to view my unemployment as a sort of personal Lent, and to consider Jesus’ experience in the desert. His point was not that we should remain pure in the face of temptation or all of those Sunday School tropes, but rather that such an experience like a layoff can itself be transformative. Jesus entered the desert as a carpenter but emerged a prophet, minister, or preacher – depending on your interpretation. Likewise, spending a few months out of work can help restablish your priorities and change the way you think, and maybe give you a new direction all together.

28 George October 8, 2008 at 5:12 am

I had a rather nasty experience with unemployment.

Basically, for a number of reasons, I do not have the legal right to work more than part-time in my current country of residence. A full-time work permit can be obtained; however, it is a highly complicated procedure that is not guaranteed to be successful, which is why a lot of employers here prefer to hire local personnel rather than go through the hassle of recruiting a non-EU person.

At the same time, I am also in a relationship with a very high-maitenance woman. We’re talking designer clothing, diamonds, expensive nightclubs with $1,000+ expenditure a night – that sort of stuff. While I am not expected to support her, even going out with her requires me to dress to a certain standard (meaning, designer clothing for me, trendy hairstyle, expensive accessories, etc).

In the end, if there’s one thing that my experience of unemployment has taught me, it’s that there are always ways and means around it. Can’t get a job? Start your own one – set up a business and work your rear-end off. It’s difficult. It’s risky. It’s frustrating and time-consuming, and not all of us have what it takes to actually start and manage their own business.

But the fact of the matter is, you gotta do SOMETHING – and, in my experience, your woman will respect you a lot more if she sees you busting your butt trying to get out of your current predicament. Nothing disgusts her more than coming home to a man slothing on the sofa, drowning his sorrows in sixpacks of beer. It’s fine for the first few days after being laid off – but if you keep going at it, you’re asking for trouble.

So that’s my experience with unemployment, then – it was an excellent kick in the read-end that I desperately needed to finally realize one simple thing – I can either sit here and wait for life to give me what I think I deserve, or I can get out there and take it myself.

29 John October 8, 2008 at 11:05 am

Originally Posted By R*****It’s not that I don’t bother to look for a job, it’s just that certain people expect me to “dance” for them when they know I am well suitable for the job. Why bother if they play games?

Look at the photo accompanying this article. Every person in that line is also “well suitable” for the job. Why should they give the job to you instead of to one of them? THAT’s what the interview process is all about! It isn’t a game to the employer. It’s a huge hassle to find the right candidate, and to make very sure that the candidate will live up to his claims.

On the other hand, if you’re not willing to bother doing what it takes to land a job, that says a lot about the effort you’re willing to put forth to keep a job.

30 Jake October 9, 2008 at 12:35 pm
31 A. Human October 9, 2008 at 7:09 pm

A good thing to know especially as I am recently unemployed and considering drowning myself in vodka for th next two weeks.

32 Brett October 9, 2008 at 7:53 pm

@A. Human -Well, at least try some of the tips after the two weeks.

33 M. Graves November 5, 2008 at 4:52 pm

Take a class. Many community colleges have worker retraining programs that will pay for tuition and books for laid off workers. There are short term certificates so you can learn a new marketable skill in three months to a year and increase your job prospects. It also gives you a way to explain your time off — I was learning project management, or updating my database management skills…etc. And you also gain access to the college’s career center where you can get help to update your resume and connect to employers. I, obviously, work at a community college and many people who come here after a layoff, in time, come to feel quite positive — and, dare I say, more manly — as a result of their bout with unemployment. They can return to work in an demand field they enjoy more and with higher wages.

34 Drew November 10, 2008 at 9:39 pm

EXERCISE

I have been unemployed for the past 5 months. I finally found a new job (actually an old one that I have been welcomed back to, but I digress), and I used a number of these techniques to get me through the rough time. I heard them from a number of different sources, and I think it is great that you have compiled them into a list. I do, however, think one of the best things that got me through it was working out. I think that should absolutely be added. It got tough after the first few months because my savings started drying up, and I found it hard to justify spending $5 a day to go to the gym. Instead I went running and did pushups, sit-ups, pull-ups, and other free exercises in a nearby park. The fresh air and physical activity did wonders for my mood, not to mention making me feel better to be in better shape. It also motivated me to follow more of these tips, like getting out and hitting the street as well as contacting my contacts.

35 Scott September 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Unlike my friends, I never got a job in high school because I was not interested in working just to turn around and dump my funds into video games, restaurants, and pointless electronics. But then college began to approach, and I realized that nobody was going to hire me because I had no job experience. Two summers in a row I loafed around jobless, feeling incompetent. I justified myself by thinking, “Well, this is the last time in life I’ll have free summers.” But I did nothing. I told myself I’d work on my languages studies, but really didn’t. It was stupid. Really stupid. And I was jealous of all of my friends who seemed to be moving along just fine. Sophomore year in college, I started looking more seriously, though again I got no response from anybody. I was freaking out. One day the library had a booksale on the lawn, and, being something of a reader, I stopped to look. I was able to talk to the librarian in charge of the sale, and after talking to him for some time, was invited to put an application in even though they didn’t currently need any workers. A week or two later, the university email announced an open position at the library. I opened the email one hour after it was sent. I had sort of given up by then, but I knew I needed to grow a pair and at least give it a shot, so I went right on down to the library to ask about the position, and was more or less hired on the spot. The pay was low and the hours were few, but I really enjoyed the job, and was thrilled to have one. I transferred the next semester, and with my experience and references from the librarians at the old school, easily got a job at the school I transferred to, which is where I still work now. And I make better pay than my friends who have been working for years. I can’t say I deserve that, but I’ll take it!

I was, during those summers, “too good” to apply to retail and fast food. However, I was ready for anything that sophomore year. It is interesting that when I became humble enough to apply all over, I got the job I had been looking for. Oh, and the guy who originally hired me is something of a friend now, too. We both enjoy working with ancient languages, and I might even find myself working in a similar field someday. Friends and contacts are good things.

36 Nathon October 1, 2009 at 2:33 am

@Scott. Awesome story. Thanks for sharing.

I just found this blog today on AllTop. Great timing because I was laid off at 3:30 today!

37 Arno October 5, 2009 at 9:01 pm

Another great thing to do when unemployed, if you have the resources for it, is to increase your employability with new skills, certifications, or even a Master’s degree. Scholarships are often available, computer texts to study for a certification aren’t so expensive.

Power through it.

38 Joel October 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Really solid advice. I went through this a while back — I was without work, and I had a five-month-old daughter to support. Not fun. (Plus, my wife had dramatically decreased her workload to stay at home with our daughter.) Everyday, my first thought was to stay in bed and feel sorry for myself. (Although that wasn’t really an option, since my daughter was waking up before 5am every day. But still.)

So it wasn’t easy, believe me. But you have to look beyond your immediate circumstances and look big-picture. Losing a job is a big setback, but you can still better yourself. You can exercise, volunteer, and catch up with old friends (who might just know of a job opening). And you simply cannot let self-pity get in the way of good old pounding the pavement. You have to stay busy — finding a job is a full-time job.

And to go back for a second — the exercise thing is pretty huge. The inclination is there to want to just melt into the couch with a battalion-sized bag of Dorito’s and all of the old “Starsky and Hutch” DVDs. But you will feel much, much better about yourself if you work out — aside from the role of endorphins, you can say, “Hey, I may not have a job (yet!), but I’m starting to feel and look better.” That can really help your mindset.

39 Zevik July 19, 2010 at 6:50 am

I’m looking right now and feeling quite trapped. I have 5 kids to feed, bills to pay and not sure what to do. To stay sane, I keep on sending out resumes and mountain biking…

solar

40 Alex July 23, 2013 at 1:04 am

Articles like this and many others from this blog have been critical in keeping me going. After graduating college, things basically brickwalled for me. Started out applying for work within my choice major… Didn’t hear back from one place. Started applying for lower pay and minimum wage positions, still nothing. While visiting a temp office, I was told that my problem was that I was over qualified for the lower paying jobs yet I didn’t have the 3-5 years professional working experience in this profession that most of my jobs using my skills called for. Internships weren’t turning anything either. So as you would guess, depression took over viciously. I could feel the look of disgust and scorn from my extended family at get togethers and frankly, i was becoming suicidal. But at one point my mind was made up on something. I could either go ahead and clock out of life, or take one last stab at things and teach myself a new in demand skill from the ground up. I chose to study web programming, with a special emphasis on Javascript and Node.js. It’s been the best decision I ever made. The process has been the greatest challenge of my life. After all I wasn’t exactly a computer prodigy as a kid, but the combination of art and engineering compelled me and now things are starting to change. I’m close to finishing my first website for a client and from there opportunity is starting to grow. At times the old black dog tries to rear its head but I’m really blessed. I’ve successfully cut off the people who only wished to be a leech in my life. I’ve managed to invent something and am waiting on that patent to come through. I have had the undying support of the most amazing girlfriend on earth (who has been there with me through my lowest period, and I hope to spoil her rotten in the years to come). I guess I just wanted to say thank you to all of you guys for sharing your stories and to you Brett for running this blog. You’ve certainly helped a guy like me push forward and take back my life.

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