Isolation, disengagement and too much idle time are the enemies of self-esteem and a positive attitude. Add prolonged unemployment and you have a perfect storm for confidence-crushing thinking. Looking for a job is tough. Rejection is part of the game with so many qualified people applying for the same job. After a few months fear and doubt can set in. Add six more months and fear turns into panic. The economy is bad, job growth is slow, so it’s no wonder the phone is not ringing from prospective employers. But as a year of unemployment turns into two, the thinking pattern can turn inward. “Others are getting jobs, why not me?” If you can identify with this situation, here are six false beliefs to guard against.
1. “I’ll never get another job.” This “all or nothing” thinking sets in as time marches on. The truth is jobs are opening up every day. If you haven’t been successful for two years, it’s past time to reassess your career track. Keep looking, but look for other places to use your skills and experience.
2. “It’s my fault I’m unemployed.” Not true. If you’ve quit looking, then it may be true. But if you’re giving it your best, there are a lot of other factors working against you. The danger is taking lack of employment personal. The right opportunity hasn’t presented itself. A positive attitude and open mind will help you get through the down time.
3. “I can’t compete anymore.” The false word is “can’t.” If you’ve been out of work for awhile, your skills may need an upgrade. Things change fast, especially in technology. How things get done in your field may have changed. Use your time to research new methodologies and either take classes online or take a class at a college or tech school. Read everything you can to keep up with your field to stay fresh.
4. “No one wants to hire me.” The crusher here is “wants.” There is some employer who needs your specific skills, attitude, experience and passion for the job. They just haven’t found you yet. When you don’t get a call back or interview, you start to feel like there is something about you an employer doesn’t like. Maybe you’ve cast too small a net. Expand your job search area to see what comes up.
5. “My productive days are over.” I believe Col. Sanders started Kentucky Fried Chicken at age 75 or so. As long as you’re alive you can be productive. The problem for some is we identify our job with our worth. The two aren’t the same. I used to work in human resources, moved to training and now am a freelance writer. When one door closes, another one opens. Make a list of what you know how to do and see if you can turn them into job prospects.
6. “I’m too old, (fat, grey, out-of-shape, tired) to get a job.” Appearance does count, but you don’t have to look like a supermodel or Brad Pitt to get a job. Lack of confidence does show in your appearance, eye contact, voice tone and body language. You can look thinner just by sitting or standing up straight and more confident by looking someone in the eye when talking. Physical appearance is just an excuse. That’s something anyone can improve with a shower, a great hair stylist, exercise program, manicure and a smile.
Changing your attitude can be as easy as changing how you talk to yourself. Be nice to yourself and be your own best cheerleader.