If you are someone entering the holidays either unemployed or navigating career changes due to COVID-19, you’re not alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics update in October 2020, “long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) increased by 1.2 million to 3.6 million”.
27 weeks = 6 months of job searching, dead-ends, interviews, rejections, and overall confusion.
Seasons of job searching often feel lonely, confusing, and tough for many reasons. Whether you’ve been searching for 6 months or 2 weeks, you might feel a bit of stress thinking about talking to your family during the holidays (especially if you have an Emily Gilmore at your dinner table, eager to ask you ALL the questions).
The inevitable questions arise:
“So, Whitney, how’s work going for ya?”
“Sophie, how’s that job search going - has it been 3 months now?!”
“Laura, are you still in that job you said you hate?! You gotta get out of there!”
The list goes on. I’ve had seasons in my life where I feared being asked what I do for a living because I hated my job and wanted out, but had no idea what I wanted next in my career. What I’ve learned is the more prepared you are to answer that question, the better. Read on for a few pieces of advice before you head into this Holiday Season!
1. Prepare yourself. It’s inevitable that you’ll be asked how you’re doing and what you’ve been up to. If you’ve been job searching, furloughed, or just hating your current job - this question might bring up insecurities and hit some trigger points. Prepare a response to this question before feeling overwhelmed and stumbling through a response over your mashed potatoes at dinner. Read on to learn HOW to craft that response.
2. Be honest. I know it can feel really hard to be vulnerable, especially around family you haven't spoken with in a while. But you know what? Everyone is ALWAYS going through something. No one lives a perfectly peachy life. Your family members have likely been through a tough job transition in their lifetime. They're probably going through something in their own lives right now. Being honest opens the door to a deeper conversation.
3. Focus on what you’ve been doing. If you’re reading this blog post, I bet your season of job searching has not consisted of binging Netflix and playing video games. I bet you’re someone who is invested in making an intentional career move. I bet you’ve put in work applying for jobs and growing your network. Instead of viewing those actions as worthless - TELL people what you’ve been up to! Job searching is hard, uncomfortable, and brave. When someone asks you what you’ve been up to, tell them you’ve been job searching and working hard to grow your network. You’ve been working on your resume and practicing your interview skills. You’ve been doing so much more than twiddling your thumbs and waiting for that next job to arrive at your doorstep. Be proud of this season of GROWTH.
4. Be confident in who you are. Do you truly believe you have value to offer a company? If you struggle to believe you are worthy of a great job, I highly recommend getting clear on what your strengths are and how to market them to an employer. A popular and paid strengths test is called Clifton StrengthsFinder, it’s around $50 but is such a helpful tool when reflecting on your strengths. Another great and free test is called HighFive strengths. Going into difficult conversations with clarity on what you have to offer a company will help you lead with confidence. Last but not least, think about where your identity lies. Is your identity wrapped up into work? Does your job define who you are? It shouldn't. As a Christian, I know my main identity is a follower of Christ - and that changes every aspect of my work identity and confidence levels. Where do you place your identity?
5. Ask questions. Please don’t dwell on your current job status for long! Flip the conversation by asking questions. Ask people how they’ve been doing with their quarantine. Ask someone what they’re most thankful for this year. Change the topic and stay curious about your loved ones. One of the best ways to love someone is to ask them a genuine question.
Best of luck! Remember, you are one of the MILLIONS of people who have struggled with their job search this year. Stay persistent, use a job search strategy, and never be afraid to ask for help. Inviting someone into your job search might just be the catalyst you need for change.