Hopefully you won’t mind the re-post. It’s great to see where we came from over a year ago!
The Job Search
You’re on the hunt for that elusive game at the safari. You’re searching for your Eleanor. You want that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Okay, so a couple of these are more realistic than the other, but sometimes the job search can be so frustrating and, dare I say it, depressing. Tough economic times don’t lend themselves to optimism, but there are things you can do to keep your glass-half-full outlook going. As Chris Farley said so often on Saturday Night Live, “Keep a PMA: Positive Mental Attitude!” It sounds hokey, but the truth is, a PMA can have a PME (Positive Mental Effect) on your job search.
Seeing as how I’m in the middle (hopefully somewhere near the end) of a job search, I reflect on this time and see where I can make improvements, where I’ve utterly failed, and where I’ve done well. For a little backstory, we were coasting along in Texas about a month ago when my husband sent me the dreaded text: I lost my job. Time suspended itself and things really did get a little woozy. I was glad to have had a desk job at that moment, because I was already sitting down. Hubs is the one who pays the rent and the bills. I cover the insurance and school costs. From there, we have been in a whirlwind. We were in an economically depressed area. There aren’t many jobs and the one large industry there was bought out recently and almost completely shut down. It’s the one town in the area that people have to commute 45 minutes to get to in order to have a job if they aren’t a rancher or truck driver.
We have been doing the whole Dave Ramsey budgeting thing, but we were not very far into it. I will say, what we had achieved saved our bacon! We figured out what we had on hand, what our expenses were, and what was our best option to not be homeless in a few weeks’ time. So, after much prayer and soul-searching, we decided to move. We sold half of our possessions in a moving sale (sounded better than yard sale) and earned the moving truck money. All the other money we had saved was still available for the bills that keep rolling in. I gave my notice at my job, we pulled our son out of an excellent school, packed up the remaining belongings, and headed out on the road.
I will say this: we were pretty happy with our choice of destination. We arrived in Florida after 11 1/2 hours on the road. How it took longer than we thought, I’m still trying to figure out. We moved in with family to be rent-free for a few months until we get back on our feet. It’s not easy, but I’m trying to tell myself we have a “studio apartment”. It’s a single bedroom. Again, PMA!
We took one week to get settled in, get our son in school, put things in storage, and revisit the area. The next week I began the hunt. Now, this area isn’t exactly booming, but there are opportunities out there. I’ve been scouring the web and visiting personnel agencies and doing some other things to keep me going through this time. I’m a worrier. I try not to be, but when I see the bank account dwindling and I see so many jobs that I’m not qualified for, I tend to panic. However, I’ve made a list of things I’ve been doing “in the meantime”. I hope this helps you in your search, also.
1. First things first: Get your resume’ together. This is an essential and the whole process hinges on having this ready. I have one that I add to with each new job. I’ve had some temporary jobs and a few “long-term” jobs. And I’ve had great jobs like my last one that we had to make the hard decision to leave in order to save money. I’ve made sure that it’s completely up-to-date and pretty sharp looking. I don’t fluff it or pad it. I’m pretty realistic about what I did. The last thing I want to do is have a job offer based on a resume’ that is way above my pay grade!
2. Set up a command center. I’m the type of person that hates having to continually get up and get something else, find what I need, or move things around. I took over the dining table (I can move it easily enough for dinner) and set up the laptop, my phone and charger, my coffee, my water bottle, and a snack. I have my pen and paper. I have my jump drives for whatever reason I may need one, and I have my bag packed. This keeps the flow going and allows you to continuously search and apply.
3. Search, search, and search some more. I have scoured the internet looking for work. I decided on the radius I can search within and have visited several websites and put my resume’ or an application through. I visited two personnel services and applied with them. Since we are having to conserve money, I’ve decided that driving around town (especially one as large as this one) isn’t the most useful, productive, or cost-effective use of my time and resources, except for places I had to directly apply with, like the personnel service. And be willing to let go of some pride. I don’t want to flip burgers, but if that’s what it comes down to in order to pay bills and and put food on the table, so be it.
4. Be ready. Every morning I have to get up and get my son ready for school. It’s not far, but the traffic is atrocious and it starts earlier than school did back in Texas. In fact, we were late within the first week, because I didn’t realize the traffic was that bad! But I digress. As soon as I get back home, I get my shower and prepare for the day as though I already have a job. Getting ready does a few things:
- if there’s a call, you’re ready
- it keeps you motivated
- it helps keep you focused
- you don’t get out of your routine
I have always had office jobs. Always. Every morning (except the weekend), I go through my normal routine. I fix my coffee the night before, I get up and shower and get dressed. Today is a little different. I did the usual, but all my dress pants are in the washer, so I have on a fantastic yellow argyle sweater with black and pink running shorts and flipflops. I SHOULD have done laundry yesterday, but it was a day off and I just didn’t want to. Now, I’m unprepared. I don’t like that feeling.
5. Spend some time on yourself. Eat right, get some exercise, spend some time outside (where it’s weather-appropriate), and take care of yourself.
- Eat meals that are nutritious. Nothing boosts the mood like healthy foods. Don’t drown yourself in Ben & Jerry’s, but a serving every now and then won’t hurt. Be sure to drink plenty of water, also.
- Take your vitamins. I’m anemic and I tend to panic, so iron, potassium, and magnesium are my best friends! Vitamins and good food can keep your health boosted.
- Get up and get moving, especially when you get bogged down and start feeling hopeless or helpless. It’s proven that exercise gives a surge of “happy” feelings. Why not boost your mood and get the blood pumping? It will burn off stress and help you to focus.
- If you’re a woman, take a little time to primp. I’m not saying you need to get a full manicure if you don’t have the money, but take time to trim nails and put on a neutral color or pluck some eyebrows. Men, trim up the beard or mustache. Shine shoes. If you enjoy having a professional appearance and it boosts your mood, by all means, do it if you have the resources.
- Get plenty of rest! Anxiety can keep you up at night, believe me. Turn off the television, plan out the next day’s agenda, and calm your mind. Some people enjoy yoga (like me) and all the stretching gets the knots out and the deep breathing is very, very…very… calming. Maybe a cup of herbal tea can help you relax, such as chamomile. There are also apps, if you have a smart phone, that have relaxation sounds. I have a free one that has beach waves. Read a book, if you aren’t a page turner. But get your sleep!
- Optimism is key. If you’re having trouble being optimistic, go to Pinterest, for heaven’s sake. You will find more encouraging phrases on plaques, teacups, and pieces of driftwood than you can shake a stick at! And there are plenty of articles out there that are pretty much saying the same thing I am. If you are religious, the Bible has plenty to say about your Source of strength. Stay positive!
6. Keep yourself occupied. Yes, you need to be vigilant! You need to consistently look for work. However, you can do plenty of other things in the meantime, such as write a blog (yes), work on a creative project that you find productive or calming, try to start a little side job that you can keep going after you’ve become employed. Who knows? That side job may turn into a full-time income-producing job! But keeping yourself occupied will keep you focused and keep you positive and give you an outlet, as well.
7. Take a break. You can burn out easily or fall into despair if you sit by the phone. A watched pot never boils and a watched phone never rings, or so it seems. We happen to be in a place that has plenty to do. Most of it costs money and we can’t do it, but there are plenty of free things, also. Yesterday, we literally spent half the day at a mall. We don’t really like malls and we didn’t buy a thing, but it was great to get out and see something besides the same 4 walls. We got to see new things that fired the imagination. We were around other human beings. We didn’t have an agenda. It’s good to recharge.
To all who are searching for that dream job, a job that pays the bills, or any employment at all, keep pushing forward. Believe me when I say I feel your pain as you are in the thick of it, possibly facing worse situations than myself and my family. Stay positive. Stay focused. Best of luck to you!