Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Unemployment Opportunity

By Phoebe Farag Mikhail

An airline recently posted 300 flight attendant job opportunities. It received 22,000 applications. If you were one of those applicants, I think you can rest assured that if you didn’t get the job, it’s not about you.

That’s small comfort when you might still be unemployed, or have recently lost a job, and are desperately trying to find new work to support yourself and your family. I come across people every day struggling to find jobs in the current market, and I can see the fatigue in their eyes.

Here is some good news, however, that is about you:

Unemployment is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity for you to reflect on your current career track and job search, take stock, and consider some changes that might make you more successful in your quest for work. The Nonprofit Professionals Group recently posted an article “Time to Stop and Think,” with some great questions to ask both during a job search and mid-career. Taking the time to reflect, instead of barreling ahead sending resumes – or being despondent about an unsuccessful job search – has many beneficial outcomes. 

Reflection on your job search process may lead you to:

1-      Change your search process. It may not be effective to simply send resumes to open positions posted online or in the newspaper. Depending on your field, you may need to literally go door to door with your resume, or focus more on building your network through events and informational interviews.
2-      Change your course. Perhaps there is no longer enough market demand in your current field. You may need to branch off into a different type of job that uses the same skills you have, but in a different context. It may also be time to consider doing some affordable professional development, or even a new certification in a more marketable field. Community colleges are great places for affordable certificates in up and coming fields.
3-      Pursue your passion. My friends John at TaDah! Foods and Mimi at Shadow Chic started their respective business while on hiatus from entirely different careers. They both had been nursing those dreams for years, and the time off from work gave them the freedom to explore new opportunities.
4-      Change your perspective. You may not want to start your own business. You may not have the resources or skills to make economic success out of your passion (this post by Study Hacks explains why that may be a wise decision). You may need a job, any job, to make ends meet right now, even if it has nothing to do with your training or previous career track. And the way the current economy in the U.S. is going, you may need to stick with an unfulfilling job that you may not like, possibly with a boss or colleagues you despise, for a while. You’ll need to find fulfillment in other aspects of your life, by devoting more time to family and friends, volunteering, and hobbies.

 Have you recently come out of a period of unemployment? Did you find it an opportunity? How helpful do you find this advice? Please share in the comments below.