Life And Time: Dealing With Unemployment

I guess you can say that it was a quiet Thursday morning. Well I thought it was. I was finishing up a double egg and cheese sandwich and an orange juice from the building café while scanning through the previous day’s email.

It was probably too quiet now that I think about it.

Around 9:45ish I get the, “Can you see me in my office?” call. And whenever you get this call, it always seems to have the same tone. It’s unemotional – yet stern – so you understand that you are walking into something that isn’t going to be pleasant.

So I take the walk, knowing that at the end of this corridor awaits a conversation that is probably going to mess up my day. As I cross the threshold of the office and see all three of the my managers awaiting my arrival, I immediately understand that this conversation is about to be even worse than I could have ever imagined.

So I put a little smile on my face – and open with a line that sounded good at the time.

“Well this isn’t good.”

At 10:00 AM on Thursday, November 10, 2011, I was set on-course – like so many others in the past few years – for one of the hardest journeys a professional will ever face:

Surviving unemployment.

The first 72 hours came quick. And it really didn’t hit me until the run of “concerned” phone calls ended. When they stopped, the reality of the situation really set in:

I no longer had a job.

The transparency of the matter was not immediately projected onto me. I would be getting on the hardest roller coaster that I would ever ride; yet this would end up being one of the most rewarding times of my life.

The emotional highs and lows of being unemployed made me feel bipolar.

I have gone from feeling unstoppable after a strong interview to being distraught while sitting in an ACME parking lot after being declined at the register. Keeping a positive mindset through the majority of this time was key to my emotional survival.

I had good days.

I had great days.

But the bad days were inevitable.

And it’s very easy to become un-constructive – especially because there are a lot of people out there who vocalize this negativity. But this is counter-productive. Surviving the bad days makes the good days become great days. I strengthened my confidence through bad moments by shaking them off and remaining poised.

I knew what I had to offer to my next employer.

The most prolific skill that I developed?

How to network effectively.

Now this took months for me to find my right stride. And I tried it all.

I did resume drops, increased my LinkedIn network through connections/groups – and even went as far as developing and sending marketing keynotes for organizations that I was targeting.

But the most effective thing I did?

Contributing to my local advertising club.

I made positive connections that wouldn’t have been possible without giving that time to the club. But I believe that the success of utilizing this channel wasn’t me being “job-driven” – rather, my mindset was to help where I could and to have no expectations.

I just demonstrated to the members what I could bring to the table to help their efforts.

This did uncovered “hidden” jobs that led to interviews. But the most important thing was that people in this club developed an appreciation for my skills outside of my previous network.

The most stressful aspect of this journey for me was the sense of un-productivity.

Before being unemployed, I always had a daily purpose – from school to sports and then to my career. Then all of a sudden, that was taken away.

And for awhile, that drove me crazy.

So I internalized those emotions and challenged myself to grow in other ways.

The biggest challenge was getting back to a healthier lifestyle. I took up a “Primal” lifestyle and developed a routine of working out. I challenged myself to get back into reading, and during the day I would devote time to reading books or marketing literature. Lastly, I took the opportunity to really dive into my stepchildren’s lives by getting involved in their sports programs.

Shifting my mindset to finding a purpose through other means gave me an opportunity to find productivity and set goals in these avenues.

This “productivity” didn’t pay the bills, but this part of my unemployment – and my life – is far more rewarding then a paycheck.

At 6:00 PM on Friday, June 8, 2012, an amazing job offer arrived in my inbox. This could have possibly been the longest 30 weeks of my life – but with the support of my family and friends, I beat unemployment during possibly the worst job market in modern U.S. history.

This might not have been as quick or as easy as I would have liked it, but that’s life!

For all of the unemployed who still wake up each day wondering when their day will come, I wish that your great days overshadow your bad days.

I wish you positive growth in your network.

And I wish that you find productivity during this trying time in your life.

Originally appeared on Advertising Week Social Club

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