Days Off Are Way Better If You Actually Have a Job!

I’m the queen of goofing off.  Seriously. I can spend hours happily doing not much of anything – or at least not much of anything anyone else would consider anything. So a day off for me is one of my absolutely most favorite things in the whole world.

But when you’re not working, the sweetness of days off begins to wear thin really fast.  And as any of us who has been there and done that knows, it also begins to eat at your spirit.

Recently I got a comment from Ms. Tere, who is out of work and waiting to hear back about a job interview. It’s been over 3 months since her first interview; and while the process still seems active and she seems to be a viable candidate for the job, she has nothing concrete to show for it. And there’s nothing more she can do to speed things along. Understandably, Ms. Tere is in agony.

Oh…she’s been doing all the right things, including thank-you notes and occasional polite interview follow-ups. And she’s been great about keeping busy and trying to make the best use of her time – and not just sitting still and staring at that proverbial pot of water that never seems to boil.

In her own words (the first interview was in January):

I’ve exhausted the thank you e-mails and follow ups. They’ve checked my references and liked what they heard…It is now May. Most days of the week I’m too busy (volunteering) to think about it, but on the weekends I’d be lying if I said it didn’t bug me. Everyone I talk to says to keep up the good work, that I’m doing the right thing by keeping so busy, and to not lose hope.

But as well as she’s handling things, it’s still hard for Ms. Tere (or anyone) not to just up and lose it sometimes. And she goes on to tell me she does:

There are so many things I would love to do and cannot do because I don’t have a salary anymore. That’s the most depressing part to me. I try to not let it get to me, but it’s still there, of course.

No matter how great you are about taking things day by day and keeping hope alive in your heart, you can only go so long without at least some creeping sense of sadness starting to take root – especially when money is getting tight. It’s hard to see an end in sight when that all-powerful e-mail or phone call with a job offer never seems to come.

“What if I never get a job again?”

Let’s face it. Thoughts like that can pop up for even the most resilient of us.

So for all of you out there stuck in this excruciating limbo – having been there myself many times – I just want you to know a job will come. Please know that and believe it. A job will come. It may not be your dream job. You might have to open up to new directions. It may not pay what you were hoping – or even close. And it may be less hours than you would wish. Or it may even just be temp work. Then again, it could also be everything you ever wanted – even in this economy. Just know it will come.

Even in bad economic times, jobs happen. In March 2009, we lost over 5 million jobs. Of course, that’s awful and the turnaround can’t come soon enough. But over 4 million jobs were also created or refilled. And you only need ONE of them!

So please have faith that your job is coming.  It may simply be taking an extra long detour. :)

Whatever you do, keep looking. Even if you just had the best interview with a job you really want…keep looking. The energy you put into that not only helps keep you sane, but it shows in interviews and may result in attracting an interesting opportunity in the process.

And to help things along, don’t be afraid to open yourself up to new possibilities that in better times might not even enter your mind. While waiting for  my “real” job, I’ve done temp reception work even though I already had an MBA. And one of those times, I got offered a job at a very good salary by the same person who was paying me $10/hour to be his temp receptionist. (See posts below for more on this.)

You never know what fate brings you when you go off the planned path. Straws of opportunity are around us all the time. Our job is to to spot them and turn them into gold! (Or at least into something that helps us until we can get to the actual gold. ;-) )

Ronnie Ann

For some tips on spinning that gold:

Job Morphing: 20 Tips to Help You Promote Yourself

To help kick your job hunt into full gear:

Make Job Hunting a Daily Job. Oh How It Pays Off!

Job Search: The Simplest Job Networking Tip of All

To read the original post with Ms. Tere’s May 7, 2009 comment:

What the Heck Goes on After a Job Interview

And for all under-appreciated folks out there:

Zen and the Art of Being a Receptionist (and Other Under-Appreciated Jobs)

 

About the author…

Ronnie Ann, founder of Work Coach Cafe, bases her real-world advice on her many years as an organizational consultant where she helped interview and hire people, added to a certificate from NYU in Career Planning & Development and her own adventures as a serial job seeker. She can also be found on her new blog, and on Google+.

Comments

  1. This post summed up my job hunting experience last year perfectly. At first I was nonchalant about the whole thing. Jobs had always sort of fell into my lap previously, so why would this time be any different? Well, the weeks soon stretched into over 5 months! Apart from the first few weeks, I did not enjoy my time off one bit. I grew positive I would never work again, lose my house, move in with my parents, work odd jobs for minimum wage…you get the drift. The only blessing was that I’m single with no kids so I didn’t have that added pressure.

    I’m not suggesting that those who find themselves unemployed kick back and work on their tan but I would handle things differently in hindsight. I cringe when I think of all the time I wasted worrying and scouring the same old want ads repeatedly. For example, I’ve been trying to lose a little weight for a couple of years. Why didn’t I hit the gym twice a day? It might seem excessive but did I have something better to do? Hell, I would probably be looking back fondly on my time off now and reflect on my accomplishment.

    For what it’s worth, here’s my unsolicited advice (from experience):
    1. Get your finances under control ASAP. Assume the worst. Are you really prepared to be out of work for 3-6 months? Cancel the cable, plan ridiculously cheap meals, end all unnecessary spending, change your habits to reduce your utilities, have a yard sale, etc Be careful not to cut back on things you will need like Internet service. I would also keep the gym membership but maybe switch to one of those low cost places like Planet Fitness ($10 a month!). Review your budget after the first month to make sure your estimates were realistic.
    2. Apply for unemployment immediately. I waited until my funds were low because I was embarrassed (not sure why) but I won’t make that mistake again. I paid into that system for almost 20 years.
    3. Put in 6-8 hours a day job hunting. People aren’t joking when they say looking for a job is your new job. Be honest with yourself about how hard you’re actually working.
    4. In reference to #3, take the weekends off! New jobs aren’t typically posted on weekends. Also, when I spent all weekend on job boards, my Monday sucked because there were so few listings that were new to me.
    5. Stay positive. You will get another job if you have realistic expectations. I finally hit a streak and had 3 good offers on the table and now make more money at a more challenging job. Oddly enough, this didn’t happen until I “lowered” my standards and applied for a wider range of positions. 7 months later, I can honestly say the whole ordeal was worth it to be where I am now.

  2. Wonderful comment Joe! Lots of great advice learned the hard way. Glad it turned out so well for you.

    Good luck in your new job! And thanks for taking the time to share your experience with all of us.

    Ronnie Ann

    BTW…Joe and I have been in touch and I’m planning on turning his comment and some of his other first-hand experience into a post – or two or three!

  3. Kristin says:

    Thank You, Thank You, Thank You… I have been unemployed for the last five months and was excited at first to have the time off. I finished my bachelor’s and helped out my family by tending my nephews. I have gone on so many interviews.. and have not found a job yet. I interview for a job I really wanted.. I had 3 interviews and now I am in limbo just waiting. It has been 2 weeks since the last interview. My boyfriend doesn’t quite understand why I am depressed and thinks I should give up on the job since I have not heard anything. I sunk into a deeper depression thinking they weren’t interested because I had not hear anything. After reading some of these articles I feel a million times better. There is hope for me yet! They haven’t told me No and it’s feels good to know I am not out of my mind about being unemployed and depressed. It’s comforting to know it’s not just me. Thank You!

  4. Hi Kristin!

    There absolutely is hope for you! While I understand your boyfriend’s desire to end your misery :) , there is never any need to give up on a job until they actually say “no” – and even then, you can keep in touch if you really like the company and had some good connections during the interviews.

    I hope by now you’ve heard some good news, but if not, please don’t get discouraged, the next one can be THE job. I’ve had long stretches in my career where everything felt cold, and then suddenly 2 or 3 job offers came up all at once. Meanwhile, remember to spiff up your resume and network, network, network! Also, to keep sane, try taking some part-time or temp work or doing a volunteer stint. It not only helps the spirits, but may lead you to that next job.

    In the meantime, this might help:

    12 Ways to Stay Sane After a Job Interview

    Good luck!

    Ronnie Ann

  5. Ms. Tere says:

    Hello Ronnie Ann,

    Thank you for responding! I happened to stop by and I stumbled upon this post. Unfortunately, I don’t have any great news to report. I still have not heard a response from that interview, and I had another one elsewhere back in April from which I received a “I’ll let you know about that second interview as soon as I know something!” (And nothing else, I might add, as I sent one more follow-up e-mail to the same person about 3 weeks later and received no response.) My volunteering is still eating up much of my time, and I’m finding myself having to demand my off days (to keep them as off days – that’s when I’m doing the majority of my searching). When I get home from volunteering, I try to spend a few hours searching and applying as that’s time I won’t have to spend the following day. So I’m at a little over 7 months of being unemployed and searching now. I AM broadening my horizons and my search, but at least two of those new pathways involve a system known for proceeding at a pace slower than molasses. As such, I remain in limbo with nothing in sight but more limbo ahead, and try to not get too down about it. It gets more difficult with each passing day.

  6. Ms. Tere says:

    As for the volunteering eating up my time, it’s GREAT to be wanted and I’ve actually taken over most aspects of the job of someone who quit (super resume booster!), but there is also something very disturbing about not being wanted enough to be paid for work someone else used to be paid a full salary with benefits to do. They’ve acknowledged that if things were better, they’d find something to offer me, but there’s a hiring freeze on basically until the recession ends. It can get very frustrating on some days.

  7. Oh, Ms. Tere! My heart goes out to you and anyone else in your situation. That’s a long time. At least you’re playing it smart by volunteering. In the “old” days (like last year), volunteering often turned into a real job down the line. It still could for you at some point…but you need something sooner than that.

    Can you cut back on your volunteer hours a bit and step up your job search? You need time for networking (online and in person) and also for simply looking for places and people to contact. You might also look for part-time or temp work that could get you a foot in the door.

    In tough markets, the more creative the better. Some people are even telling interviewers to try them and see how it works! And don’t forget to make sure your resume is working for you. Small changes can make a huge difference.

    I hope something comes along soon for you. In the meantime, please drop by once in a while and let us know you’re ok. I’ve been through times like this myself, and something good always comes along eventually. Fingers crossed for you, Ms. Tere! Good luck.

    Ronnie Ann

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