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Tackling Unemployment : The strategies you need to know

Unemployment is a season many of us have had to bear through, and it's easy to feel lost and hopeless.

There are certain situations we find ourselves in throughout our life that truly rock our sense of self and value.

One of the major ones is unemployment.

When I worked within welfare-to-work, my biggest challenge with clients wasn’t so much helping them with the practical elements of their job search, but actually convincing them they could bring value to the workplace and were worthy of finding a job.

Many of my clients had been unemployed for prolonged periods of time, for different reasons, and the impact on their confidence, self-worth and sense of value was something that required the most work from me as their advisor and career coach to help them overcome.

While attention to all the core job search strategies was of high importance – applications, CV writing, interview preparation – there were a number of other strategies I would recommend clients engage with to ensure they had a robust sense of activity and purpose, despite being unemployed. All of which would ultimately aid them in moving towards securing a job that would be sustainable for them.

Having experienced a brief period of unemployment myself in the past year, I had the opportunity to utilise these strategies myself.  Not only do they really work, but they also helped me to hold on to my sense of self without getting lost in the stress and anxiety of finding a new role.

Never underestimate the role of networking

LinkedIn reported that 80% of professionals agree that networking is crucial in getting ahead with finding a new role. The percentage of individuals who secure work through networking is varied in reporting, but many agree it’s around 50-60%. That’s over half the job market finding jobs through connections alone – rather than traditional online applications. Personally, my last two roles were found through the connections I had working in that organisation so I’m inclined to believe the stats.

Networking can be anything from engaging on professional platforms, such as LinkedIn, to reconnecting with other people you may have worked with. Reaching out and letting them know you’re looking for work can be a great catalyst to start finding out about upcoming roles.

Broaden your horizons

When you’re looking for work, it can be very easy to let it become your one and only focus 24/7. While there’s nothing wrong with having it as a priority, the more you don’t hear back or take time to reinvest in yourself, the more damaging it can be for your overall well-being.

Take the time to invest in yourself – professionally and personally!

Take an online course (there are plenty of free sites such as Coursera or Future Learn) to give your CV, knowledge and applications a boost. Find a volunteer role in your chosen field, or a role you’d like to get more experience in.

All of these things help you know that you’re not just defined by the job you have. It gives you something positive and relevant to talk about and will definitely help set you apart when sending in applications, and at the interview.

Create a focus

One of the biggest faux pas I’ve seen with clients is when they apply for anything and everything they can find in their job search. While it’s good to keep an open mind (clients who would only ever apply for one very specific job role or company were not successful either!), it’s also important to make sure you apply for roles that match your skills and experience.

Make sure you find employers you want to work for. Landing a job in a company you hate will not provide you with something sustainable and you can end up worse off when it comes to you emotional and mental well-being.

Keep a list of all your capabilities and transferable skills, and for every job role you’ve had, try to match it with 3-5 other similar job titles you can search for. Narrow your searches down to companies that excite you and you’ll be on your way to feeling more in control and proactive in your job search.

Most importantly – don’t forget self-care

 As a society, we place an extraordinary amount of emphasis on the role of work in crediting us as ‘valuable citizens’ – people who are productive and engaged with the ‘traditional’  workforce, even in jobs they despise, are viewed with far less scrutiny than those who do not work.

Despite this, very little attention is actually given to the psychology of work and the importance of finding work that is fulfilling, engaging and sustainable for us as an individual.

Don’t forget to do a regular check in with how you’re fairing emotionally and take a break if you need to.

Your job doesn’t define you – you define your job.

Utilising these strategies can help remove some of the helplessness we all experience in unemployment and keep you on track to feeling positive about yourself and your prospects.

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