September 20, 2012 | Barb Carr

Career Development: How to Push Past the Negative Stigma of Unemployment

If weeks of unemployment have turn into months, you’ve probably felt the social stigma of being unemployed a time or two during your job search. The negative perception of others along with the stress of maintaining your lifestyle as you watch your unemployment benefits bleed away can be overwhelming to the point of losing motivation to keep up the job search.

Sometimes our own perceptions can keep us from moving forward. Guilt or self-blame over losing a position or a belief that the present economy will not offer any viable options can hold you back.

Here are some thoughts on attending to your emotional wellness and overcoming negative perceptions so that you will find inspiration to resume your job search in a powerful way.

  • Define yourself. Don’t be defined by someone else’s perception – if someone looks down on you for being unemployed, keep in mind that they don’t know your story and are judging based on a story they’ve made up in their own minds without the facts. You define you – not someone else. There are always going to be people who look down on others for whatever they perceive as a shortcoming, that is, they’ll feel superior until they have to deal with a similar crisis.  No one is exempt from a possible crisis, and experience is a great teacher.
  • Advance in your field by pursuing a certification. By continuing your education, you are re-entering the workforce with better, more competitive skills. You’ll also restore confidence in your ability to succeed at something new.  If you can’t afford training, contact your unemployment counselor for the best course of action. He or she will be able to direct you to training options for which you may be eligible.
  • Create a consistent schedule. Don’t be tempted to turn on the television and get too comfortable with a bag of chips. Go to bed and rise at the same times that you would if you were working. Your schedule should also include exercise, like walking or using that gym membership you were too busy to use when you were working. Plan and prepare nutritious meals so that you are feeding your body with foods that make you feel fit and energized.
  • Volunteer to help at a conference in your field of expertise. You may be able to attend for a free or reduced rate as a volunteer and you will have the chance to learn and meet others in your industry. You may also find volunteer opportunities in your church or community where you will meet other professionals who can give you tips on who is or isn’t hiring in your local area.
  • Reconnect with your family and friends.  When disappointment happens, sometimes it’s easier to turn away from others than to reach out to them.  A strong foundation of people who support you will make the load lighter to bear. This is a great time to visit with parents, siblings and old friends.   There may even be opportunities for you to do things for them that you never had time to do before due to your career.  It will feel good to help them and give you an emotional lift.

You can make positive steps that can open up more exciting possibilities for your next career. You will not only inspire others who are in the same situation, but gain the admiration of many when you come back after a crisis stronger than ever.

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