If you’re currently unemployed, or possibly risk being unemployed very soon, this article is for you.
I know, and have known, many unemployed people over my career. They always fall into one of two categories:
1. People who lose their jobs but get new ones shortly afterwards, usually within three months at the most. Even during a down economy.
2. People who lose their jobs and stay unemployed for a very, very long time. A year, two years, or longer.
I have seen both groups of people in all walks of life and at all income levels. Regardless, I have noticed very distinct differences in behaviors and attitudes between those two groups of people.
There tends to be an (often unspoken) opinion about people in the second category, which is they’re lazy and just don’t put in the effort to get a job. I have found this to be untrue…to a point.
It’s my experience that people who stay unemployed for a long time aren’t necessarily lazy. It’s just that they’re way too picky. They often forget that a crappy new job is better than no new job. It’s not that they don’t want a new job. They do. Badly. It’s that they only want a new job if it’s the pay they want, doing what they want to do, in the industry they want, and that isn’t located too far away.
The problem is when you suddenly find yourself unemployed, and you’ve got bills that need to get paid, and possibly a family to support, you don’t often have the luxury of holding out for all of these things. You may indeed have to get a crappy job at less than you were getting paid, doing something you may not like, in an industry you’re not accustomed to, and/or in a very inconvenient location.
“But I don’t want to do that!” you scream.
You’re forgetting something! You’re not going to be doing that crappy job forever. You’re just going to be doing it now, for a little while, while you look for a better job. I probably don’t have to tell you that employers are more likely to hire someone who already has a job than someone who is completely unemployed. Unfair but true.
Get that crappy job, then keep looking for a better one while your bills are getting paid. I’ve had to do this once or twice myself. This is orders of magnitude better than being unemployed with zero income for a year or more, while you destroy your savings and freak out about the government possibly cutting off your unemployment checks. Isn’t it?
It’s my observation that these overly-picky unemployed people do indeed hit the pavement and do work hard looking for a job. But after a few months of complaining that all the jobs they get offered “suck” or are “too far away” or “not enough money” or whatever, then they do indeed start to get lazy. After rejecting all kinds of jobs they don’t want, they tend to get used to being unemployed. Then they become a statistic…people who stay unemployed for a year, two years, or even longer.
Finding A Job Fast
Is it hard to find a job sometimes? Especially when the economy is really bad? YES. But is that an excuse?
Before you answer that, let me tell you about someone I know very well. I haven’t received permission from him to tell his story so I’ll keep him anonymous. I’ll call him “Jake”.
Back during the horrible economy of 2009, Jake was laid off from his warehouse job. He received almost no severance pay. Jake had a wife and three children to feed. His wife had a little income from a new daycare business she ran out of the home, but not nearly enough to support the family. Jake had to get a new job.
In the job market, Jake immediately had several strikes against him:.
1. He was African American (living in a predominantly white neighborhood).
2. He was an ex-convict with a criminal record.
3. He had no formal education or training of any kind.
You think YOU have a tough time getting a job? Try being a black ex-con with no education.
Jake didn’t let that stop him. While unemployed, he woke up at 7:30am every morning, just as if he had a job. Then he went out and hit the street. Meeting people, applying for jobs, going on interviews, making phone calls, filling out applications, all that stuff. He was doing all of this while many of his friends, who had been unemployed for months or even years, were sleeping in, watching TV, and complaining the only jobs they could get “sucked”.
Jake had a new job within two weeks.
It wasn’t a great job. It was another warehouse job with even worse hours and harder work. It was also at several dollars less per hour. But he had a job. He was able to support his wife and small children.
That was several years ago and his income is now back to where it was before he was laid off. (Actually I think he’s making more, but I’d have to confirm that.)
You can get out there, and get a temporarily bad job, and get your bills paid, or you can be picky and stay unemployed.
The choice is yours.
In a future blog post I’ll talk about how you can make it easier to find a job if you suddenly find yourself unemployed, and how to prepare for this while you’re working.