Virtually all of us will experience unemployment at some point. Being out of work impacts each of us differently but, for many, a good deal of our identity is wrapped upin who we are in the workplace. Without work, it’s possible to lose that sense of self, and the confidence that comes with it. For the senior executive, being unemployed can be particularly disorientating due to the sharp contrast between the status and power enjoyed at work and being suddenly at home. So, what can the senior executive, or anyone else do, to stay positive and make the most of this challenging time?
First, it’s important to be realistic about how long it can take to find the right job. Many experts agree that it takes about a month of searching for every $10,000 of salary you plan to make. For a senior executive, clearly, it may take a long time to secure a suitable position. Knowing this can help mitigate the self-doubt that can creep in as time passes by.
Second, searching for a new job can be particularly demoralizing if you really treasured your last one. All positions have their pros and cons. Are you looking back too fondly? Rather than yearn for what was, focus on what can be — a fabulous new position that might otherwise never have been found.
If you were nicely packaged out by your former employer or are otherwise financially stable, now might be a good time to do something you have always wanted to do. Take an extended trip, for example, or play golf all summer. This is not a guilty indulgence, it’s a reward for years of hard work and sacrifice. Don’t include this special time as part of your unemployment period but accept it for what it is, a sabbatical, which is also how it should be positioned on your résumé.
Enough can’t be said about the value of your network right now and this is definitely the time to review your profile and connections on LinkedIn. Let people know you’re looking for your next position. Don’t avoid connecting with someone simply because you haven’t spoken to them in a while, as that’s precisely what LinkedIn is for! Also, if you have long admired a particular firm, check your connections to see if any of them works there because a referral can be hugely impactful. In fact, in a LinkedIn survey, 48% of businesses said their quality hires came from employee referrals. Staying connected with peers will also help prevent any feelings of professional isolation.
Your contacts may also be a good source of consulting work. Consulting can be an excellent way to keep busy, make new contacts, try new things and even test the water should the role morph into something more permanent.
Looking for a job is a job in itself but, if you can spare the time, consider using this period to brush up on your skills or complete any training required to maintain your professional standing. This will help you feel more connected to the “working you” and ensure you’re current on developments in your field, which will be important when land your next great job.
Finally, a period of unemployment is the ideal time to reflect on your career path. Are you in a field you really enjoy? Is there something else you have always wanted to do? A professional coach can be very valuable here in guiding you through the processes of re-evaluating your career, identifying your strengths and aptitudes, and digging deep to uncover what is truly important and fulfilling for you.
Being unemployed can take an emotional toll but, it’s important to see it for what it is — a transitional time in your life. With persistence and a positive attitude, it can be overcome and even turned to your advantage.