Today on my ride to work, I was as usual, thinking, listening and looking for something to write about in this job advice blog. Sometimes that inspiration comes from outside the windows of the car I drive, and other times from the thoughts mulling around in my brain. Today it came from the radio.
You see there was this Economist with the Steelworkers Union who was talking about the jobless numbers that Statistics Canada has released, saying the jobless rate here in Canada is at 7.2%. There is a another number to factor into this according to the Economist, and those were the thousands of people who have stopped looking for work altogether, and therefore are not reflected in those numbers. Were they factored in, he estimates the percentage would be closer to 11% or 12%.
“Why would someone without a job stop looking for work and how are they supporting themselves?” the host of the morning show asked. The answer provided was that some stop looking because they truly believe there are no jobs to be found, and he estimated that for every job out there, there were in fact 6 people competing for it. Some of these people are being supported by their families, returning to live with their parents, or returning to school to upgrade their education and skills.
Returning to school is usually touted as a good use of ones’ time to upgrade education or perhaps kick-start an entirely new career in a field other than the one you have experience in. However, it costs money to return to school and there is a chance you might be told later-on that you are still not being hired, primarily because you might run back to your field of choice as demonstrated on your resume.
Returning to school is still an outstanding option in my opinion. You invest in yourself, and after all, by investing in yourself, you build on skills and knowledge that you will carry with you until you die. Contrast that with an investment in property or external things like a car which depreciate the minute you own it.
Consider too, that with an increasing number of people entering the job market, and the population in many countries showing a boom in older more mature workers than ever before, you are positioning yourself now to compete better for work ten years from now. Those who lose jobs over that next 10 years and haven’t upgraded, will find themselves wishing they’d taken the time.
Of course there are a number of unemployed who are feeling defeated, deflated, depressed and disillusioned. It’s not as simple to just say, “Oh pick yourself up and just go get a job!” Until you’ve really been unemployed or your current job brings you in touch with those who job search as a daily routine, it’s hard to understand the level of frustration connected with looking for work.
Here in Canada, the three sectors were jobs have been identified as growing, are Retail, Health Care, and Manufacturing. Now suppose you have experience and education, but not in one of these fields and you want to try your hand at a job in one of those sectors. Well of course you could bolster your resume with transferable skills, return to school, take a course in health care like a Personal Support Worker, or you might even consider a physical change in your living arrangements in order to move to areas where hiring is occurring.
Consider that if you stop looking for work because you are frustrated, that sense of frustration can be readily identified with by others. However, while that’s good in the short-term in generating sympathy and even empathy, neither one of those will put food on the table, pay rent, improve the quality of your life and that of your family, and the longer the period of unemployment, the more troubling and difficult a return to the good habits of having a working life can be.
Routines such as getting up, shaving, showering, dressing, getting on with a systematic plan of attack to your job search, networking with people, working on your personal communication skills, updating your resume, telling everyone you know that you are back in the game and actively looking for work and would appreciate any help with leads etc.; these are things you can do. These ideas, and others like them, slowly begin to counter the negatives of unemployment.
You gain purpose by having and attaining goals. If you have been without significant goals for some time, set some small goals that you can readily obtain in short periods of time. So maybe getting your hair cut instead of just letting it grow to some unmanageable length is a first step. Looking in the mirror after, you see the person you once were, and are on the road to being again. You may even look younger. Get out for a walk a few times a day and take in some exercise, and put the TV remote in a cupboard. Sure you know where it is but you have to get up to get it.
Only you have the real power to initiate change in yourself. Never give that power away.
By Kelly Mitchell, BA
*The original of this post can be found at: http://myjobadvice.wordpress.com/2013/08/12/why-would-you-stop-looking-for-work/