Surviving Unemployment with Sound Mind and Body

Rona CarrListen to this article
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It’s important to develop a plan that will ensure a focused and purposeful survival while figuring out what your next move will be. CRITICAL to your successful landing in a new position: Being proactive on your own behalf (e.g., signing up for outplacement services, drafting templates for a resume and cover letter that can be adapted for different positions), seeking help with coping methods regarding the requisite life-style changes, social demands from family, friends and colleagues during the periods of financial uncertainty, and the need to be frugal.

o Down Time: Taking some time off to relax and reflect after leaving a job, will allow you to assess your financial resources, professional and personal networks and affiliations (e.g., trade/industry associations, alumni groups, faith-based affiliations, etc.), and will be critical in charting your path of action. Building your knowledge of and proficiency in the use of the resources specific to preparing for and conducting a job search (e.g., interviewing skills, follow-up communications, etiquette, and honing your negotiation skills), will be critical. Important local resources will include the places like the local library, career counseling office at your alma mater, your local state unemployment office (which may also offer a full curriculum of classes and workshops, and may also have a computer lab that includes instruction), will be important. And the idea of reinvention and what that might be should be seriously considered.

o Healthcare: If your healthcare coverage and prescription plan has been extended for a period of time by your former employer, as soon as possible, schedule a complete and comprehensive physical exam, and re-fill your prescriptions. Resolving medical issues before they become a problem, and planning how you will manage existing conditions, will enable you to manage your life and activities more effectively.

o Temporary Employment: Should an assessment of your financial resources indicate a need to return to work as quickly as possible, consider registering for work through a temporary employment agency. Temporary employment agencies vary by industry (e.g., construction, IT, professional services, academia, public administration, etc.), and profession. For positions requiring technical skills (e.g., computer skills, knowledge of various data bases used for analytics,etc.), a series of tests will be administered to evaluate your knowledge and abilities. Many agencies are national (occasionally international), and the opportunities they offer can include project work, on-site or as part of a virtual office/team, assignments that are temporary, short or long-term contracts. In some instances, health benefits may be available, and some assignments transition into full-time jobs. To work with a temporary employment agency, you will need proof of your right to work in the US, a resume, and you will be asked to complete an application in person or on-line, interview via the telephone, Skype or in-person, and a background check will also be completed. The human resources department of your former company or organization should be able to recommend temporary agencies they have used or that are specific to your industry. Networking with colleagues and friends will help too in referring you to positions withing their places of work, or other friends who may be aware of open positions elsewhere.
The following, is a partial list of websites that you might find helpful when getting started with your job search:

o www.MyPartTimePRO.com (their tag line says it all: ‘Meaningful work. Flexible time commitment’.)

o The Chronicle of Philanthropy http://philanthropycareers.org, servicing the not for profit and education sectors

o www.execSearches.com, for senior positions, national, with the occasional international listings.

o www.HigherEdJobs.org focused on the worlds of academia from support staff to college/university presidents and chancellors, etc.

o www.ivyexec.com , specializes in jobs starting at $100k, and covers all industries domestic and international.

o Transportation Maintenance: If you have a car/motorcycle/bicycle, etc., have it thoroughly serviced. Using a local vocational training facility (usually a high school or community college), in lieu of a dealership or private mechanic, will reduce the cost of repairs and servicing. The instructors are certified professionals, students welcome the experience they gain, and the customer service is quite good. Be aware that you will have to work with their schedule, which can mean longer waiting periods. Having your own transportation reduces the cost of travel, facilitating being able to get away periodically, an important part of managing stress, and maintaining a positive attitude.

Exercise …
o Personal Presentation: Exercise, combined with a healthy diet, mental engagement and restful sleep, helps to manage stress and anxiety. Some of the benefits include clear eyes, good posture, consistent levels of energy and a better mental focus, all characteristics that indicate vitality, good health, and confidence. A well groomed presentation conveys a positive first impression when facing the public and meeting potential employers. If possible, keep your gym/studio membership current. Discipline will be required for 30-minutes of daily exercise, whether it’s a gym, studio, or exercise videos. If making the time is a challenge, having an exercise buddy can be helpful.

o While not exactly exercise, getting plenty of sleep is very important. Giving your mind and body a chance to completely relax is always a good thing.

Your Personal Appearance & Beauty Routine…. (For men & women)
Personal Appearance: Maintaining appearances is a requirement that can be very expensive, and the services of local vocational schools’ training programs in cosmetology (e.g., a private school, high school or community college), where the instructors are certified professionals, the cost can, sometimes, be less than half of what you’d pay at a salon, and a reasonable alternative. You will have to fit your needs to their schedule, and you may find yourself spending a little more time communicating your needs. If you have a preference for a type/brand of product, ask and inquire whether you can bring your own products to use. Sampling these services when traveling around the US, I’ve never had a bad experience.

Some of the services offered can include:
o Hair styling, hair cuts, shampoos, perms, braiding, extensions, weaves, and coloring

o Professional barbering for men (e.g., beard/mustache maintenance, shaves, facials, haircuts, ear/nose hair removal, etc.)

o Manicures

o Pedicures

o Waxing

o Body-wraps

You’ll be able to save money by collecting free samples of your favorite cosmeceutical products from upscale department stores and boutiques that offer them, as well as requesting free samples on-line. With diligence, you can stock up a month’s supply of your favorites, before you have to replenish.

Need a tailor or your shoes repaired? The local vocational schools (or fashion institutes for a tailor), can be helpful there too.

Social Commitments…
Maintaining Your Expenses and Social Life: Not losing touch with family, friends and colleagues is critical when you’re not working, and trying to manage your expenses and debt. Don’t be shy about making friends and family aware of the changes in your life related to being unemployed, and the need to be prudent in managing your expenses and activities. A personal network is a great resource for personal and professional outreach and support. How to survive and have a social life at no or less cost than before? Some ideas that are effective:

o Limit the number of times you eat out (e.g., once every other week)

o Have a dining-out budget and stick to it (e.g., limit your drinks to one, only order an appetizer or two, and a dessert. This is especially effective when dieting)

o Host friends at your home/apartment, and ask them to bring a dish (or two), and the beverages.

o If you’re a good cook and enjoy cooking, invite friends to pay for the ingredients and you become the chef.

o Be prudent when accepting invitations (e.g., vacations, being a bridesmaid/ best man, baby showers, theme parties, weekends away, etc.), and managing the related expenses.

o Give gifts of service (e.g., baby-sitting (weekends especially!), meal-making, reading aloud, pet/house watching, negotiate I.O.U.s for favors, etc.)

o Barter services and goods whenever possible. You’ll increase your network and add an interesting dimension to some of your existing relationships

o Join a book club. Having a regularly scheduled social engagement gets you out and in the company of others that share similar interests.

o Visit www.festivals.com for fairs, fiestas, carnivals or other social celebrations that you can enjoy with friends and family, and share the costs and driving.

Volunteer Work
Volunteer: The not for profit sector was hit the hard when some of their biggest patrons (e.g., Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and others), went out of business. Working with an organization of your choice will not only provide much needed help for a good cause, but socially, will be an opportunity to meet new people, and contribute your time, expertise and knowledge in a way that will be appreciated and make a difference. You might even find that the connection could mean a new job. Some of my personal favorites:

o My alma mater (what alumnae/i association doesn’t need help?!)

o Rioult Ballet, www.rioult.org , (a company of ballet dancers and musicians that I love)

o FIRST, www.nycnjfirst.org (a local and national robotics competition for elementary & secondary school students that is awesome),

Surviving with a sound mind & body means you’ll live to share tales of survival, enjoy new friends and colleagues, and the wisdom gained will serve you well going forward.

Best wishes for your success!Rona Carr

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