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.