The holiday season is traditionally esteemed as the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, for some people, it is hard to partake in and enjoy the festivities with family, friends, and co-workers–especially with co-workers. That is because there is a sizable amount of experienced professionals who are spending the holidays without a job.
From speaking to people day-in and day-out, it has become blatantly obvious that this phenomena exists: corporations have embarked on a campaign to separate experienced professionals from their payroll. One major contributing factor is that accomplished, seasoned employees with 20-plus years of experience tend to get paid relatively well, especially compared to a 23-year-old or a fairly recent college graduate who works in Florida compared to the veteran employed in New York City.
Companies have made the financial calculations and deduced that losing a $200k veteran worker for a $32k novice is a no-brainer. Multiply the savings when thousands are involved and it turns into big money.
This process, while mostly motivated by saving money, results in blatant age discrimination. While this practice is heinous, in the spirit of the holiday season, I’d rather focus on something positive and beneficial to you. If you find yourself in-between jobs, here are some tips to keep you motivated, engaged, and sane.
- Understand that you will have dark days. People are quick to tell you to “shake it off.” Expect for others to be insensitive to your feelings and know that when you are depressed, anxious, angry, and discouraged, you are not alone in these feelings (if that is any consolation). It is common to feel this way after losing a job. In fact, it would be peculiar for you not to occasionally have these negative thoughts. Up to this point, your identity has been grounded in your job. You are fighting a normal response and society is quick to dismiss mental health claims. If someone breaks their leg, would you tell them to just shake it off?
- Fight through the tough times. Yes, there is the mental factor and financial uncertainty will arise. How are you going to set aside money for your retirement? How are you going to pay your mortgage? But you must not let the worries overwhelm you, despite the initial shock to your system.
- You can fight back by being active and assertive. Don’t withdraw from society. Use this opportunity to regroup. Get out there and meet with former colleagues, set up appointments with recruiters, attend conferences, search job boards, send out resumes, and try to network every chance you can get. Keep the momentum going and don’t allow yourself to fall behind.
- Fill up your down time with activities to keep yourself mentally alive. If you are not sure what to do, go volunteer at a charity or community outreach, go to the gym, learn a new hobby, reacquaint with old friends. The idea is to stay active and engaged to avoid getting stuck in a depressive state.
- Set a game plan for finding a new job. Break it down to daily actions to remain focused.
- Consider going back to school or obtaining new credentials. Maybe you always wanted to start a business. Perhaps, you would like to make a career change. Now is the time to figure out the next phase of your life.
These are just some ideas, but the best advice I could offer is that you must stay positive, busy, active, proactive, and working toward a goal. This will prevent you from falling into the downward spiral of discouragement and push you toward starting a new chapter in your life.