Can becoming unemployed open us up to avenues and opportunities that give us joy which we would otherwise have ignored?
That’s the key message that my guest blogger Tamuria Fazel shares with us this week as we relive her son Ash’s journey from long term unemployment brought on by the same nasty corporate politics that I has written about in my post on office politics and promotions.
Thank you Tamuria and Ash for agreeing to share your story to help others whether they are going through the difficult days of job search while unemployed or are loved ones who are watching and trying to be the crucial support system that the job seeker needs.
Guest Post: Hope is important during long term unemployment
The most important thing to hold onto when you are unemployed and looking for work is hope.
If you lose that, you go on a downward spiral that can lead to depression.
These are the words of Ashley, a 30-year-old man who knows exactly what he is talking about because he’s been there.
Ashley went from being one of the brightest, and youngest, stars in a major company, to losing complete confidence in himself and others in just a matter of months.
When he started work at the company his enthusiasm and dedication propelled him into a management position, in charge of his own team, in record time. He was the youngest employee to receive this recognition.
The thing that many people forget is that managers are managed by someone else and have their own bosses to answer to.
From New Boss to Job Loss
When Ashley’s boss moved and a new one took his place, things began to go sour.
His new boss was a micro-manager who had very clear favorites within the company. The favorites would receive special treatment, the others left to clean up their mess.
Ashley was in the latter group – a new experience for him.
Unused to being treated with such disregard, Ashley’s enthusiasm for the job quickly turned to resentment.
He began dreading going to work and the healthy pay packet, good enough to help him buy a house in his early 20s, was not enticing enough to compensate for miserable days on the job.
When he injured his shoulder in a non-work related accident, his boss found the perfect excuse to manage him out of the company, refusing to let him back until he had clearance from a doctor. She did not offer him the option of light duties, as she had for others.
Ashley procrastinated about getting the necessary treatment and clearance and when he ran out of sick leave he resigned, sure that he would walk into another job easily. He had been with the company for five years.
“By that stage, I was totally fed up with the unfair politics going on,” he said.
“There was a clear company policy on following the chain of command. I couldn’t go above my manager as it was against this policy.”
The experience taught Ashley some valuable lessons about dealing with office politics.
How to cope with a Bad Manager
- Understand that office politics are everywhere and be prepared they will, at some stage, affect you.
- Try to be flexible with different management styles and understand how to work with them, instead of against them.
- If you’re getting complacent, start retraining yourself and look for something else. Otherwise, you become resentful and blame others instead of working towards resolving issues.
- If you decide you need to leave, make sure you have another job to go to.
Hang onto Hope
Walking into that new job was not quite as easy as Ashley thought it would be and he soon lost confidence in himself.
He also lost his house and became depressed.
The lack of confidence he felt from being unemployed resulted in some bad decisions in other sectors of his life, creating a downward spiral.
“There were days I just couldn’t get out of bed and face the world,” he said.
“I had lost hope.
“I felt like I was a failure and was letting everyone down.”
Ashley applied for dozens of jobs almost every day. For every 20 jobs he tried for, he was lucky to get even one interview. Lack of confidence was oozing out of him, creating a barrier that hid his ability.
After a few disastrous jobs where he was verbally abused, or not paid, Ashley decided to look at different career paths.
Try something New
In desperation, he took a sales course, partly because the company paid all expenses and offered a small paycheck.
“I figured $50 a week was better than nothing and the course was interstate so it got me away for a while,” he said.
“I had never thought of doing sales before but discovered I really enjoyed it and was good at it.”
These days Ashley is happily working in sales and heading towards another management position. He is certain his previous experiences will make him a better manager, with more empathy and understanding.
“I don’t have regrets,” he said.
“Everything leads you somewhere.
“I discovered a hidden talent in sales and I love speaking to new people every day and hearing their stories.
“My best advice when you are unemployed is -don’t lose hope. And be prepared to consider different job possibilities.”
A Mother’s Viewpoint
As Ashley’s mother, I would offer the same advice to parents watching in torment as their adult children deal with the stress and helplessness of unemployment – don’t lose hope.
Hubby and I watched in horror as Ashley changed from the joyful, enthusiastic son we had nicknamed “Happy Face” as a toddler, into an angry and resentful young man.
We didn’t realize how good the anger and resentment were until they were replaced by the nothingness that is typical of depression.
While it put a strain on our finances to help him through his period of unemployment, that was nothing compared to the strain of watching his emotional torment.
It was a matter of great pride to Ashley that he had started earning money from the age of 12 with a part time job after school.
It was torture for him to go back to relying on his parents for financial help.
We begged him to apply for unemployment benefits but he didn’t want to be labelled a ‘bludger’ and said he would lose all hope and ambition if he had to resort to that.
We asked him to seek counselling, but that too added to his sense of failure.
In the end, we had to back off and trust that he would find his way. When we pushed he went MIA (Missing In Action) and it scared us, given his emotional state.
What to do when someone you love becomes unemployed
- The most important thing is to help them keep, or regain, their confidence. Point out all the things they have achieved and the skills they have to offer, not just to employers but on a personal level as well. Too often our sense of self-worth comes from what we do rather than who we are. It is important to recognise our worth and contributions outside of the workforce.
- Let them know they are important and needed. When someone loses a job because of redundancy or a management conflict, like Ashley’s, they can feel like they are an unnecessary burden. Let them know how important they are in your life and the lives of others.
- Encourage them to have fun and indulge themselves occasionally. People who are unemployed often feel they do not have the right to have fun.
- If you are giving them financial support, make it clear it is just a loan until they are working and can pay you back. This saves their pride and gives them extra incentive to keep looking for work.
- Encourage them to learn a new skill. This not only keeps them busy and less likely to fall into despair but can lead to a new career path, as it did for Ashley.
- Stay positive, but also realistic – false hope can lead to unwise choices.
On the other hand, genuine hope is contagious and can help your loved one realize that better opportunities are waiting if they are open to them. Being unemployed can be scary when there are bills to be paid but it can also be an opportunity for new learning and a new direction.
Have you been down this road and reached a better destination? Have you been the silent support system to an earnest job seeker?
I’d love to read your perspective in the comments box below.
Meet The Writer: Tamuria Fazel
I happily quit my career as a journalist with a daily Sydney newspaper to become a stay at home mother decades ago.
Aside from taking odd jobs that fit in with my husband’s shift work when money was tight, I was totally engrossed in my job as mother to three sons and it was not until they became older that I realised how much one’s identity can be caught up in what they do.
As my sons grew and their need for me changed I knew I needed to find a new direction and went through a period of self-doubt.
I kept the hope alive and strong and started my own business, first as a professional potter and then as an arts and crafts teacher. This led me to my current job as art therapist to people with disabilities.
I have a passion for sharing arts and crafts projects as well as tips and tricks for keeping the balance in life through creativity and organisation. When not writing or researching for my blog GleefulGrandiva , I enjoy playing and creating with my adorable granddaughters, the Goddesses of Glee.
Vatsala’s note: Here’s a gift from Tamuria’s from her awesome blog Practical Steps to Self-love Guide plus Journey to the Centre of Your Heart Game
Share with others!