Part One: What I Learnt from Unemployment.
Job hunting is a minefield. A minefield that is on fire and you’re covered in petrol being chased by a pack of flame proof wolves. (In this analogy the wolves are recruiters, but we’ll get to them in a later Part in the series.)
I exaggerate, but the point I am trying to make is that I truly hated job hunting. Without sounding arrogant, I’m used to being lucky. I’m used to being in the right place at the right time, having the right qualifications and have the right personality to get whatever I needed done.
So why did it take me eight months to get a job? I kept seeing all of my friends succeeding, getting jobs before even leaving uni, getting into grad schemes, having fall back plans and securing employment quickly. I just couldn’t. I felt left out and disappointed with myself. It was horrible.
I continued with the tried and tested updating my CV, keep on keeping on, apply to everything and everywhere, eventually I started getting interviews. First it was one. Then two. Then a couple each week for months. And still I couldn’t crack it. I got good feedback from these interviews. I was told I was extremely employable and was given all of the stereotypical signals that I had got the job. But I never did. Until the last one, that is.
It took so long and I had so many sleepless nights crying alone to myself. I worried about money for the first time in my life. I felt like I’d let everyone down.
However, I learnt a lot about myself during this time. Not just the traditional things like spell check and proof read your CV, get someone else to read it, practice interviews, research the company etc etc.
I learnt that sometimes in life, things just don’t go your way. There is someone better than you. It doesn’t take away anything from you or your skills unless you let it. If you let each knock affect you, you’ll slowly become worse and there will be more people better than you. If you treat each one like an excersise, you can take from the experience, learn from it and better yourself.
I learnt that I needed to gain some humility. Being used to getting my way gave me too much arrogance for my own good. I needed to be put down a few places. I think it was for the best. I don’t think it harms anyone to have to work for something sometimes. I don’t think it harmed me to have to struggle a bit. Putting it into perspective of some of the world’s problems, it was barely a struggle at all. I was safe, warm and fed.
I learnt that sometimes you are going to be bored. Job hunting is monotonous. It’s tedious. I gave myself headaches from staring at my laptop refreshing my emails waiting for news, scrolling through endless job boards and sites, and repetitively moving commas around in my CV and cover letters while frantically fretting which was better, Times New Roman or Arial. Every day began to become the same. I learnt the daytime tv schedule and became distressed when it changed because a series ended. I saw day time news presenters more than I saw my friends and it was depressing. It was necessary. Deal with it.
I learnt that sometimes you do have to rely on others. My friends were brilliant. Truly stunning. I complained and moaned and was generally a pain. I wasn’t myself, I wasn’t able to be around there for them. I wasn’t able to help with anything but they stuck by me. I don’t think it is bad to have to take someone’s help whether it’s a phone call or a place to stay or paying for a coffee as long as you repay in kind. I know when I’m back where I need to be I’ll be able to be myself again, fiercely loyal, there for them, doing whatever needs doing to be a good friend. Because they did that for me. Times like this show who your friends are. Not just who is there for you when you are down, but who is truly happy for you when you are on the way up too.
I learnt to not get stuck. Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results does not work. You have to change. You have to grow. That is the same while job hunting. Are you on the right path for you? Are you following the career you should be doing or the career you think you should be doing? Are you even happy going down this road? These are questions you have to be able to answer for yourself. With no other input. Do what is right for you.
I needed to really look inside myself and see where I wanted to be and where I needed to be. There were easier routes that I didn’t take and now I am thankful I stuck it out because I landed a job with real career prospects. It’s not even just a job, it’s the start of my career. My life. Everything I want to achieve. I’ll be doing what I love doing and I’m so lucky and so thankful. But also proud. I did stick it out. I earnt this.
Most importantly I learnt persistence and perseverance. It was horrible but if I had given up, it would have been worse. Everyone is strong enough to achieve what they want to within reason. Everyone. Dig deep, take a breath and go for it. It’s hard. It’s a battle. It’s worth it.
I feel for everyone still unemployed or who was unemployed for longer than I was. I really do. I hated it. And I hope you are all okay and I admire your grit and determination. I almost broke. I have no idea. I don’t. I’m still very ignorant about the subject, something I am trying desperately to change. So bravo to you. With no sarcasm or ulterior motive, bravo brave people. Keep on keeping on. You’ll get there.
I did take a lot from this time. So I will acknowledge that unemployment helped me, and raise a glass to it, but I am so thankful to see the back of it, the bastard.