Today's Great Fear: What if I Lose My Job?
- Wednesday, January 07, 2009
As I write this, unemployment is at about seven percent and we’re being told that it may rise to 9% or higher. Of course, it's good to remember that TV news is less about dispensing the news than it is about keeping viewers. So, rather than report that 93% of all Americans are employed we’re reminded on a daily basis of the threat of unemployment.
To give some perspective to our current situation, historically economists felt that anything under 6% was great. But in the last couple of decades we’ve had such great prosperity that anything over 4% seems cataclysmic. So with the help of the mainstream media, we’re all scared. Some are even predicting another Great Depression. While, anything is possible, let's not forget that during the Great Depression unemployment ran around 25%. In those days people were trying to sell apples on street corners to get by. Today, we’re more likely to be concerned about whether we can afford an Apple Computer!
Now, this doesn't mean that our fears are completely unfounded. If you’re part of the jobless 7%, you know it’s tough! To give you some more statistics, the average time to find a new job right now is about 4 and 1/2 months. I’d like to help you shorten that. If you have a minute, let me share some tips that might be helpful if you’ve lost your job and are in a desert period.
1. Remember, it’s nothing personal. After a job loss, many people go into a real funk and find themselves asking over and over, “Why me? What did I do wrong? Am I not up to the task? Am I a failure?” This is what is sometimes referred to as “stinkin’ thinkin.’” The truth is, you probably didn’t do anything wrong. Because of economic realities, it simply became more profitable for the company to cut your job. Businesses don’t have feelings. To be successful at business, by definition, means the business must make a profit. Otherwise, it ceases to exist. So your dismissal wasn’t a personal attack on you. It was simply a tough, pragmatic decision made to lower the company’s cost of operation.
2. Negotiate with your boss. Try to get an extension. See if she will let you work for an extra month or two while you attempt to find new work. Ask for a severance package. While this may sound unlikely, some employees are wise enough to parlay a boss’ request for a “non-compete” clause or a “no solicitation agreement” into the promise of several months of salary in the form of a severance.
3. Fake it ‘til you make it. Don’t fall into the trap of acting like a depressed person. If you act that way—you’ll become that way. And, depressed people aren’t very appealing to employers. Sitting on the couch, eating chips, and watching Oprah ain’t going to fix it! This means that you maintain a disciplined schedule. Get up early every morning. Eat a decent breakfast. Go to the gym. Get dressed like you would for the job.
Then go to work!
You may be thinking What do you mean, ‘Go to work?’ Don’t you remember this article is about the fact that I don’t have a job!”
Oh, yes you do. Your job is to look for a job. Note: I didn’t say, “Your job is to find a job.” No, it’s to look for a job. If you do enough “right” things for a long enough period of time—you will find a job. Set tough (but do-able) goals for yourself. For instance, determine to shake hands with 25 new people each day. Cold call five businesses each day. Call five people you know each day and tell them that you’re looking for a job. Aggressively seek out and respond to online job openings. And, of great importance: keep a daily journal. At the end of each week you can review it and see whether you’ve truly stayed on course.
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