How to Talk to the Unemployed…

Let’s be straight for a second… most of us out there that are unemployed don’t like the word unemployed. We like to use words like job hunter because that is our current job is finding a new one. Unemployed is not a fun word. It has a huge negative connotation to it. People will turn their noses up at you when that word is labeled as you. Ultimately, it’s just a word, but it still kinda stinks. Overall, I’m still technically unemployed so it’s going to get brought up a lot so I might as well get used to it.

The Finances…

What I would like people to understand is that being unemployed does have its freedoms, but it’s tough. Yes, I get to choose the next job I want, but all the struggles that come with it can be hard to cope with sometimes. The biggest struggle of all is I’m not getting a paycheck. I have been very successful in the past year. I came out of college, magna cum laude, graduated one year early, with a fantastic degree from an amazing university, got a fantastic job in a different city. Now I’m deciding to be closer to family and try a career shift. Every time I look at my bank account, not seeing green numbers or plus signs coming in, it doesn’t seem financially successful to me. So when you’re talking to a person that’s unemployed, a lot of us aren’t just sitting on our butts waiting for a paycheck to be handed to us, remember that we have financial goals and obligations just like the employed do.

Talking It Through…

Every possible waking hour there’s a conversation with yet another person that always starts with, “Have you found a job yet?” “How’s the job search going?” “What was the last one you interviewed for again?” “Well, why don’t you try out this type of job…” A lot of the time when people ask us these questions they truly are coming from good places in their hearts. A lot of the time those questions are coming from people who actually care. What people have to realize is when a person is jobless that is the only thing people talk to them about, all day, every day. It is exhausting. I know from personal experience that I have to breathe every time I hear a question like that because I just want to not hear those questions every moment I turn around. I wish people could understand I just want to be normal again. I want to talk about theology, the musical we just saw, politics, sports, the trip we just went on, etc… Treat me like you would when I had a job. When I get approached by the start of every conversation about how my job hunt is going it reminds me that my life is kinda upside down right now. I have had lots of conversations at my networking event I go to about this very topic. There are people just like me that don’t want to talk about their hunt all the time with their families and friends. That’s what we do all day is to find a job. We aren’t always so chipper to bring it into our family and friend’s lives just yet until we find a good prospect. What people have to remember is we are facing so many rejections throughout the day with applications, interviews, no callbacks, and waiting to hear back that we don’t want to disappoint our families. We lose hope and have to gain it all back so quickly in order to stay positive throughout this process. As we continued the conversation at the networking session, we all agreed that we don’t want to burden our families with all of that. When we have news we’ll let them know. As job seekers, we want to hear more about the outside world. We get so bogged down with this networking, hunting life that we want to hear more about our loved one’s days and their experiences. When we do have success then we want to celebrate it with our family and friends. The other job seekers and I talked some more and we came to the conclusion that no matter what, our families care so much about us to just ask. That means a lot to us. In the end, the key to talking to job hunters is to be normal with us. We might not talk about our situation or give you updates all the time because we might not want to due to the fact that we are waiting for a good opportunity or actual news to pop up. When striking up a conversation with us, try to find different topics to talk about, when we open up the job hunting door that’s when it would be a great time to walk through it and talk about it.

Perspective…

This networking event that I’ve been going to has really humbled me. I see over 200+ people of mostly middle-aged living in DFW that are going through a career change, but mostly they’ve been laid off. Some of them are even coming out of the military and don’t know where to go. It’s shocking to me when I hear some of their stories of how they were laid off, how many months they have been jobless, and their current living situations. I’m sitting over her, spring chicken, fresh out of college, with a family that is able to support me with housing and right next to me, is a father that can’t support his family financially the way he wants to because he was laid off. Across the table is a grandmother, head of her household, having full custody of her special needs grandkids, not having a paycheck come in. I am so blessed to be in a somewhat, financial, ok place. I am so blessed to have a family that has a spare bedroom so I can have a roof over my head. So the next time you hear someone is unemployed, truly listen to their story and their intentions before you lay a judgment on them, throughout empty encouragement, or give a hopeless suggestion. Let the Holy Spirit use you as a mouthpiece.

Suggestions…

What’s one thing that job seekers get all the time… suggestions and the same type of encouragement. I have been trained to use an incredible amount of sources and trending ideas to use outlets for attraction to recruiters. I’ve been shown how to use different avenues to go about the interview and application process. No, I don’t know everything, but I am using professional help on many occasions and learning something new every day. A lot of us hunters are well equipped by now to find a job. We can have all the tools in the world to find a career, but it’s up to the hiring manager at a company to give us that callback. When it comes to taking people’s suggestions, it’s kind of sad to say, but we really have to hone in on a certain set of people’s opinions in order to keep our heads on straight. It’s not necessarily about who do we trust, it’s about who is in the know right now, and who is the person that can give us the best advice in this day and age. If we were to soak in everyone’s ideas, ultimately opinions, on what we should do about finding a job we would get deranged just trying to sort out every thought. Also, it can be hard when loved ones really want to help so they flood you with suggestions too. Nobody wants to disappoint their family. Of course, they’re looking out for you in the best way possible. The problem is that when people don’t listen to what you’re looking for in a career and suggest a job anyway that has nothing to do with what you want. Also, when they themselves haven’t gone through an interview or job search in decades. I am not discrediting family or friends suggestions or saying that job hunters shouldn’t listen to their loved ones. It’s just we can get tired constantly getting suggestions that come from a place of not listening to what we are actually looking for in a career, people don’t want to tell their families no. People don’t want to disregard their friends. On the encouragement topic, we always love an uplift in spirit because finding a new career can be taxing, but whenever people use cop-out encouragements for job hunters it can get annoying. When people say, “just give it to God” or “you’ll find something someday” or the best one… “just be patient.” People….. we’re already doing that… As Christians, of course, we’re going to give it to God. Is it too hard to ask for a real kind of encouragement, not a four-word one-line text? Can we stop for a second and actually be praying for the people that are out here jobless? Can we try caring and encouraging on a deeper level? Don’t get me wrong, we’re not hypersensitive to what you call us or what you say. Trust me, we deal with rejection every day, a couple of small annoyances aren’t going to drag us down. I’m just saying be real with us. Treat us like we used to be treated, and read this as a guide to understand our struggles and hearts.

My Thoughts…

My days consist of hours of LinkedIn, networking, seven job searching apps, professional head hunters, research, more LinkedIn on top of that, and even more phone calls. (Also trying to get out of the house every now and then so I don’t go crazy being on the computer not socializing all day…) So, here’s a real answer for you, I don’t live the most glamorous life, but I don’t want people to be jealous of my “free” life. I want people to see that no matter how weird this job gap is God is still hangin in there with me. The Holy Spirit is still knockin at my door saying yes and no to all these job offers and interviews. He’s leading me down this path. Christ has every single power and opportunity to just hand me a job, but I know that God wants me to put forth my best effort. He wants me to give it everything I’ve got, so while He’s leading me, I will work with strides to finish strong. I don’t know how windy, or long the path is but isn’t that what Faith is for? I do wish my life was back to normal, but God has me right here where He wants me to be. I’ve just got to keep calling on Him for guidance to finding the right place for me. I have to keep up with the asking of patience because I can get annoyed easily with this position in life. I am asking for new hope and more tenacity to face the negativity. I ask for positivity every day. I pray for my future career, future city, future life, future boyfriend, future friends, future church. I pray that in this shift of life that I can grow closer to Christ. This journey may seem like a valley to people looking from the outside. This journey seems like a valley to me sometimes too, but I know God is doing some seriously great work, and I will always follow Him. I may be shifting careers, but I’m going to shift being “unemployed” into a blessing.

To all the job seekers out there….

“God will move the mountain. You just have to bring the shovel.” -unkown

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