In an attempt to set the record straight, here are some “frequently asked questions” about what it’s like to be laid-off, let go, fired, unable to find work, jobless, etc.
1. Don’t you get tired of eating chocolate and watching soap operas and Oprah all day long?
This is a myth I’m sad to dispel. For one thing, I think chocolate has a lot of soothing qualities and it tastes so good. And I admit, I love the idea of rich, beautiful young people having a life even more messed up than mine (soap operas) and who doesn’t love them some Oprah?! But truth be told, being unemployed is a full-time job — and then some! Which leads us to the next question:
2. So… what do you DO all day long, anyway?
Some days I wonder how I was EVER able to fit a 50-60 hour work week into my schedule! First you sit down with a cup of coffee and search ALL the job Web sites for new listings (yes, there are many besides Craig’s list and the Labor Dept., plus a whole heck of a lot of companies — cities and schools included — only post jobs on their very own Web site, so you must be diligent, early bird catches the worm or so they say).
Craft your spectacular resume and tweak it for each and every job you send it to. Ditto for your cover letter(s).
Get on Facebook and check out any possible networking functions.
Go through your contacts and (gulp) contact them. Don’t worry, 9 times out of 10 you won’t hear anything back.
Be sure to log into Twitter several times a day to see if anything is going on and to let your Tweeps know you are fantastic. Which leads us to the next question:
3. What do you mean, “networking?”
To the unemployed, networking sometimes seems like a magic bullet. If you can have coffee (try not to schedule lunch, you’re on a budget!) with just the right in-the-know person, you might hear of a job — wait for it, wait for it — before it’s even posted! You can also attend monthly meetings for folks in your career field but you’ll likely be spending those two hours with other unemployed saps — people with a job can’t just leave work for two hours!
4. Don’t you get tired of being at home? Do you have an office in your spare bedroom?
This is a two-part question and through the magic of wi-fi and laptop computers, you don’t have to spend all your sad, mopey, unemployed time at home shuffling around in your robe and flip-flops. You can take your show on the road as long as you have enough change for a fancy cup of coffee. Set up your office at your favorite coffee shop for a change of pace AND possible networking — bonus!
To answer the second part of the question: I haven’t really settled on an office at home yet. I’ve set up temporary digs in the kitchen, on the couch, in my hubby’s office (that worked for about three hours), back to the kitchen and now I’m trying out the basement. It’s a little difficult to get the feng shui figured out, though.
5. Don’t you get depressed, hearing all the bad news, more people out of jobs and work than ever before in the history of the human race; your unemployment is gonna run out pretty soon and that spendy Cobra insurance, too… does that make you feel depressed? How do you cope?
First of all, it’s really true that being laid off is one of those experiences, like death and divorce and moving, that bring out all those emotions you have whenever you go through the grieving process: Denial. Disbelief. Sadness. Despair. Anger. Confusion. Self-blame. Desperation.
You tend to want to drown all your sorrows in a bottle or take some happy pills or watch mindless television (see question 1.)
But, for me, at least, getting laid off is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It has given me the opportunity to spend some time in self-reflection. I looked into myself and remembered that exercise made me feel better so now I teach 80s aerobics five days a week. I’ve had some interesting pick up gigs: picked up some freelance writing jobs, taught a social media class, helped write and edit a book — and started this blog.
But I admit, every once in a while, I plunk down for an episode of “General Hospital” on my self-imposed lunch break. C’mon, those people are SO miserable and SO beautiful — how can I resist?
More FAQs to come — feel free to send some in!