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The Unemployed You: Battling Through the Waiting Game (Part One)

Tuesday Sep 21, 2010

While my boss was telling me that I was his go-to person, he was also informing me that my position was being downsized. It struck me as funny because my immediate thought was…the go-to person is GONE?

This happened years ago while I was working at a tech company; a product launch, delayed several times over, prompted the downsizing. At the time, tech companies were going down faster than leaded balloons, which meant the unemployment rate was increasing along with the competition. I had never been suddenly unemployed and I wasn’t scared or upset—I was curious.

While I was embracing this change, I was declining invitations to blame games and pity parties from former and current employees, friends and some family. One college friend insisted that I was in denial because I wasn’t angry or scared. She said “you are acting too calm during the worst time in your life.” I told her I was healthy and no one had died, so how could this be the worst time in my life?

Being angry couldn’t change anything, plus I am a strong believer in graceful exits. They treated me well the years I worked there. I liked the job and had learned a lot; the industry was dynamic and my coworkers were smart and innovative. My biggest contention was reconciling my ego with my unemployed self. My ego told me I was smart and talented and would be working in a few weeks; my unemployed self said, ‘Girl, I don’t hear the phone ringing daily.’ My ego told me to relax and take a vacation and my unemployed self said, ‘If you don’t have a job, that’s your vacation.’ My ego told me this was the time for better opportunities; my unemployed self said, ‘Your opportunities are knocked down!’

This was a chain of “crazy,” but ironically it gave me perspective by not allowing me to go too far on either side. I didn’t want to slip too deep into the negativity of being unemployed making it easy to accept invitations to blame games and pity parties, feel dejected when the phone wasn’t ringing, or get discouraged when the unemployment rate increased. I also didn’t want my ego to set impossible standards where I couldn’t be flexible and open to possibilities, i.e., accepting a change in industry, position, salary or location.

My ego and my unemployed self continued this power struggle, but I just dealt with it:

-          I interviewed with a COO at a growing tech company that needed someone to create a new support department. This was a great match for me, but the salary was surprisingly low for the responsibilities and the company size. A few days after the interview, a company representative contacted me stating that they liked me but couldn’t be flexible on their salary. I said I could be flexible to a degree, but explained that it was a major undertaking and detailed the necessary tasks. They didn’t change their initial offer, but continued to call me every two weeks to see if I had changed my mind. I felt like they were waiting for me to go on sale.

My ego said, ‘that’s a lot of work, a significant salary cut, an ugly commute coupled with a low-balling, shameless company.’ My unemployed self said, ‘Girl, you aint got a salary to cut!’

They both had a point, but I went with my ego because I had savings and a well thought out, best-case through worst-case, three-step unemployment plan. This would have been a desperate decision, which didn’t factor in until step three. I was still on step one.

Since they kept calling me, I offered to consult until they found someone, but they declined on the premise that they wanted a company employee. I offered them two suggestions:

1) Conduct a salary survey to see if their expectations were realistic, and

2) Consider the bigger picture. If they continued to pursue people at clearance price, it may be counterproductive to their end goal because a seasoned person may take it as a temporary stopgap until a better offer comes along.

Going with my ego kept me in the waiting game, which was a risk I was willing to take. During the unemployment journey, the question is simply “Now What?” But the answer can be complex. The unemployment ride is different for everyone, depending on resources, responsibilities, reactions and your reality check—four big R’s. As the waiting period extends, whether you are feeding your ego or feeding your insecurities, all of these R’s will be challenged by the constant R called rejection.

The Unemployed You:  Battling Through the Waiting Game (Part Two) concludes on 10/5th.

“Part Two Excerpt”– No matter how optimistic you are, the longer you are unemployed the greater chance you will run into frustrations, insecurities, disappointments and self-doubt. Since this is part of the journey, the challenge is deciding how much of it to keep on your drive.

Written by: Gwendolyn M. Ward, Principal at FOOW? Email: swimming@foowater.com

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7 Comments »

Synergy:

This post provides a great perspective on holding out for something great while unemployed and job hunting. It seems like a unique situation wherein the job seeker is sought ought repeatedly after saying no for a low salary offer. However, maybe it is not unique if more people did the same — instead of taking the job due to fear of the unlikelihood of getting a another offer (or better offer), decline the offer because the job seeker knows that it won’t be a win-win for the employee and employer; the employee will be miserable and the employer will have to cope with low morale and turnover. Also, as your 4 Rs acknowledge, your situation sounds like it can hold out for that better job/offer. For many people with kids or debt, that is not the case and it would be helpful to if individuals in that situation commented on that.

The question for me is did holding out work to the advantage in your case?

This is part one of the real-life story. Hopefully part two will have a happy real-life ending! Either way, it’s an enlightening approach. Thanks!

September 22nd, 2010 | 1:28 pm

My ego and unemployed self have experienced together a wide range of emotions and physical sensations over the last 26 months of my unemployment. Combine that with losing my home to foreclosure in the last 2 weeks and you can only imagine what I am going through. I still won’t take the low bid because my 25 yrs experience as a degreed accountant has value even in this disaster of an economy. I don’t know where I am going to “live” after I move out seeing as most apartments require you have a “job” before they will rent to you.

But, such is life. I am where I am because of the choices I have made and I won’t get into a blame game with myself. I continue to pray and believe that I will survive and prosper again.

September 23rd, 2010 | 10:49 am
Ben:

This is a good reminder that job hunting is a full time sales position where you are selling the most valuable asset you will ever have the opportunity to sell…yourself. I made the mistake 5 years ago of selling myself short. I am now back in a job search because I made a wrong decision at that time. I can say that I learned from my mistake and will not rush to a decision if I am offered a wrong fit this time around.

September 24th, 2010 | 8:30 pm

I love your writing style and your message! I’m reading and thinking “right on,” this is the attitude to have and I admire your strong sense of self worth. Now I’m eager to see Part 2.

September 26th, 2010 | 10:31 am

Thanks for the compliment Lori!

September 28th, 2010 | 11:56 am
Joe:

Can I submit your post to my blog? I will add a backlink to your forum. That’s one really good post.

November 17th, 2010 | 10:50 pm
Iona:

I swear your blog is the best!!! I love it, thanks for postin’

May 21st, 2011 | 2:13 am
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