Tag: unemployment


How to Answer, “What Do You Do?” When Unemployed

It’s the question we all get when first meeting someone. “So, what do you do?” Although it’s not specified in the question, we know the person’s asking what we do for a living. But how do we answer this when unemployed, and without feeling like a failure?

A lot of people are currently unemployed due to the pandemic. They dread this question. Maybe you also dread it, even if you’re not unemployed.

Being unemployed doesn’t define you

First, we have to let go of the false idea that our worth is based in our work. Our careers and jobs don’t define us.

And while our worth also doesn’t come from our skills and talents, we can better answer this question by looking back to see which God-given skills are the common thread in our past experience, including paid work, volunteer work, and what I call “fun work.”

A personal example of “fun work” is when I filled in at the local paddle board shop when they were short-staffed. This job was fun because I got to be on my paddle board, and I got to be outside on the water. Plus, it was a nice way to add some variety to my regular career coaching schedule. But it was also fun because I got to use my gifts of teaching and encouragement when training new paddlers.

These God-given talents in encouraging and teaching others have been a common thread throughout my experience. Not only do I currently use them in my career coaching, I’ve used them in my past work in higher education while advising college students, and when working with aspiring recording artists in the Nashville music industry. I’ve also used them when volunteering in organizations like Project Connect. I’ve even seen how these talents have been used in my personal relationships to help friends and family.

I love encouraging others. It’s a natural, God-given gift and talent I can use whether I’m employed or not.

A new answer

After looking back and realizing this, I now answer the question “What do you do?” differently from my previous usual answer of, “I do career coaching.” Instead, I now say, “I encourage others.” This response  leads to more meaningful conversations.

What about you? What natural gift or talent have you used throughout your past experience and other areas of your life? You can use this to answer the question, “What do you do?”, both when your employed and unemployed.

If you need encouragement, or if you’d like to discover new and creative ways to use your own talents in helping others, let’s talk. I’d be happy to schedule a complimentary initial consultation with you. Click here to get started.

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How to Be Patient When You’re In Between Jobs

Patience. They say it’s a virtue. Probably because it’s something rare. In today’s world, we don’t have to be as patient because we’ve grown accustomed to technology that provides instant results.

But patience is something I’ve been trying to learn for a very long time. I’m definitely seeing improvement, but I still have a long, long way to go.

Others have noticed and often commented on how patient I am in certain situations. What they don’t know is sometimes I’m just good at hiding my impatience (except when I’m on hold with the cable company). While my demeanor is calm, I’m still thinking in my head, “Hurry up! Hurry up! Hurry up!”

In other situations, I’ve just learned over time (often times the hard way) to exhibit true patience. This means staying peaceful when things don’t happen in my own time or I start to feel restless or worried.

5 ways to learn how to be patient during the job search

My clients often experience worry and restlessness when they’re between jobs and they’re not getting the results they’d like from their job search as soon as they’d like.

It’s easy to panic during this time when there’s no money coming in and the savings account is dwindling. Perhaps you’re currently in a similar situation.

So how do you be patient in the midst of such career and financial stress?

#1. Practice patience.

We all have an unlimited amount of opportunities to practice patience, whether it’s something small like sitting in traffic or waiting in the only open checkout line at the store. Or, whether it’s something big like trying to figure out your purpose in life or looking for a new job.

You can begin with the small things to start to practice patience. When you find yourself in those small annoying scenarios where you can choose to be patient or not, always choose patience. If you decide ahead of time you’re going to choose to be patient in these scenarios before they pop up, it will be easier to react patiently. If you mess up and become impatient, it’s okay. Trust me. You’ll soon find another opportunity to try again.

Once you start to become intentional in your patience, you’ll find it becomes easier, even for the big stuff like waiting to hear back from your last job interview.

#2 Be realistic in your expectations.

If something isn’t happening the way you wanted or in the time frame you hoped for, ask yourself if you have realistic or unrealistic expectations of the situation or the other party involved. And be honest with yourself.

The part of the job search where I see most of my clients having unrealistic expectations is in networking. They think they can just tell everyone they know they’re looking for a job and that should be it. This is not how networking works. So if this is your expectation, you’ll want to read my blog post “How to Be Realistic About Networking” and then readjust your expectations.

And when it comes to interviews, keep in mind companies are starting to take more time in making hiring decisions.

In addition, most companies tend to underestimate how long the hiring process will take. They may say they hope to have a decision by the week after your interview, but stuff happens and their work still has to get done during the hiring process. This sometimes pushes the process back a bit.

Just last week I had a client ask me how long she should wait to follow up with a company after her interview. She thought two to three days was reasonable. I told her it’s more like two to three weeks! Two to three days isn’t nearly enough time for a company to complete the other interviews, discuss among all the decision makers and check references, all while having to do their other work.

Always try to put yourself in the other person’s shoes to help you maintain realistic expectations.

And be open-minded enough to accept how things might happen in a different way or different time frame than you think they should.

#3. Do what’s in your control.

When I was coming out of grad school, I wasn’t too picky about geographic location for my first job. So, I applied all over the country to about 75 jobs. And I only got about a 10% positive response rate which is the norm. Therefore, there were a lot of negative responses.

How did I deal with those negative responses?

I told myself every rejection just meant I was one step closer to the right job for me.

This mantra helped me to be patient, stay focused on the things within my control and let go of the things not in my control.

The only thing I could control were my networking efforts, sending out resumes by the closing dates, and my emotions. I couldn’t control anyone else’s timeline and I couldn’t make them like me over a more qualified candidate. Trying to would’ve been a waste of my time.

#4 Don’t make important decisions when you’re emotional.

Speaking of emotions, it’s never good to make important decisions, especially career decisions, when you’re experiencing extreme emotion.

I once heard of something called the “SHALT” decision-making method. The premise of this method is to never make decisions when you’re sad, hungry, angry, lonely, or tired. I would also add to this list scared or afraid.

Fear is one of the biggest causes of bad career decisions. But taking a job out of fear of not making ends meet or because it seems to be the only offer available can often lead to going through the job search process all over again the following year (or sooner).

There are other ways to make ends meet and buy some time to avoid making a rash decision that could negatively affect the rest of your career. This can include cutting unnecessary expenses, selling or renting things you don’t use anymore, renting out your spare room, and working a side job or as a freelancer.

#5 Relish the time you have between jobs.

While you may be anxious to find your next opportunity, don’t forget to relish this extra time you have by spending it with your family, working out more and improving your health, and exploring your passions.

It’s also a great time to learn some new skills through online courses that will build your resume and make you more marketable.

Consider this time a gift to take advantage of while you can.

Be patient with yourself!

By following the above tips, you’ll find you have more patience than you thought you had. And, you’ll learn to replace the worry and frustration of impatience with the hope and peace of anticipation.

But it’s important to not beat yourself up if you fail at patience every once in a while. It will happen because you’re human. So remember to also be patient with yourself!

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