The Battlefield of Unemployment

Employment office, 1916
Image by Seattle Municipal Archives via Flickr

At various points in the year I have felt like a medic on a battlefield. As I went from stretcher to stretcher there seemed to be no end of newly wounded bodies. Some carried bankers boxes filled with decades of memories, and others had simply grabbed whatever they could. There were the brave, the defiant and terrified all in need of assistance.

Being enlisted to the ranks of unemployment is not something to which many aspire. Yet, in this latest war, there is no age limit or neutral zone. Among the wounded are veterans who gave 20 and 30 years of service to a company and those who barely graduated basic training.

The data and statistics suggest that while progress has been made, this war is not over. Yet, there is hope.

From my position on the front lines, I have seen the good, bad and ugly. I have watched the most critical cases rise up and create a brand new future. I have celebrated as many have gone from bewildered to action oriented overcomers. It has validated what I have known for years, in the employment battle, you alone decide your fate. There is no wound from which you cannot heal.

Whether you have been fired, laid off, reorganized or retired, you can work again.  I am not at all devaluing the impact of our current economic crisis nor ignoring the effect of unemployment on you, your family or your finances. However, you have the choice to focus on the problem or work toward a solution. The choice is and always has been yours to make.

  • Evaluate your skills, those obtained through work and life experience. This will help you as you develop your marketing proposition and in your research of potential opportunities. Don’t keep it in your head and trust that you’ll know, write it down.
  • Assess how you can leverage your unique offering in the market. Remember that no other person on earth has exactly what you have to offer.
  • Don’t struggle alone. Join (or form) a job club, or find a career professional. Having trusted mentors or advisors can benefit you with information, resources and a sounding board for your search strategy.
  • You are not a victim. Get over the notion that this was “done to you.” Review the experience and learn from it. Mourn the loss of and then by all means move on.
  • Hire yourself.  Assuming that you were a responsible employee, you got up every day and did your job, often when you really did not feel like it. You were accountable for your actions, and you managed your workload. Put that same drive, commitment and action to use to find your next opportunity.

No one likes involuntary unemployment but it is certainly not the final word on your career or life. This is not the first economic downturn and it will not be the last but you can survive, even thrive with the right arsenal and attitude.

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  • Karen,

    Your message here is timely to all job seekers.

    Unemployment is not pleasant, as I have been finding since being out of work since returning home from Korea in September.

    In my own case, I am looking to move into an area which involves a lot of writing – either drafting professional correspondence for corporations or government departments or otherwise working within the media, pehaps in areas such as editing or business journalism.

    Toward this end, I have enrolled in a part time course in Professional Writing and Editing starting in February. I am hoping to find a full time job during the day and study part time during evenings.

    And in terms of work, I have been looking for writing/editing positions where I can use my draw on my background and knowledge in Commerce.

    Because of my lack of experience within the area, I am focusing on entry level positions. And whilst there seem to be a few good roles around, competition for these roles is fairly intense, meaning that the process has been somewhat frustrating as I expected.

    Nevertheless, with a little persistence, a proactive approach and a positive attitude, I am confident that I can work through this challenge.

    (I am starting now to look for a temporary job, perhaps stacking shelves or something, to suffice until I am able to secure an appropriate new form of full time employment)

    • Karen Swim

      Andrew, your wonderful attitude (and faith of course) will be your greatest tools in the job search. Don’t be afraid to go after higher level jobs that you can do. Employers can train you on technical skills (and will) but a great attitude cannot be taught. It is one of the reasons that an interview is so essential, if they like you that can work in your favour. If you need specific help with your search strategy, resume or interviews please let me know. I am at your service.

  • Thanks Karen – I really appreciate your kind offer, and I appreciate all the help I can get.

    I certainly value your expertise in this area, especially in your case given the extent of your experience not only in the area of providing job search assistance but also in the field of writing.

    So, as any specific issues pop up which I am unsure about, I will certainly seek out your input.