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I just spent the longest stretch of my adult life unemployed. It was unnerving, at best. I hated it, and I’m still reeling from the experience.
But with all adversity comes the lessons learned, the lessons I wish to pass along to anyone listening, unemployed or not. Here are the main five:
1) Do Not Wait
This one is enormous. Fact is, I could have guessed my previous job would have eventually disappeared. The writing had been on the walls for years. But I was comfy. The job wasn’t terribly difficult, the pay was good, and the lifestyle it provided me was desirable.
We all eventually developed an attitude like we’d be there forever. Like we’d grow old with the company, and that we mattered and they wished to hold on to us for as long as we were willing to stick around.
But that’s not the world we live in. Company’s grow and shift. They change priorities. They merge with other companies, or get purchased by other companies. Bosses and co-workers comes and go. Often the workplace you start at barely resembles the one you’re currently working in. And before you know it, you are unceremoniously let go. You have joined the ranks of the unemployed. Some HR person coldly gives you the news, and your whole life is overturned.
Don’t wait until things fall apart. Of course, you’re allowed to enjoy your job. Stick around, be loyal. But protect yourself at all times. Keep your resume up-to-date. Keep updating your LinkedIn profile. Go to networking events. Learn new skills. Find a mentor. Apply for other positions if they look appealing.
Don’t wait until you’re unemployed.
Sadly, most companies will move forward and not even notice that you are left in the dust. Sometimes you have to be a little selfish. You have to put yourself first. No one else can do that for you. Get yourself out there and climb to the highest highs. Don’t wait around until someone else makes that choice for you.Sometimes you have to be a little selfish. You have to put yourself first. No one else can do that for you. Click To Tweet
2) The Process is Mighty Long
Another reason to start nice and early is because the process in Israel is insanely long.
For the past two decades, I worked at many places. And every single one of them had just one interview. For most teaching positions, there was a model lesson as well. Even I was shocked at the end of my interview with GoDaddy. I thought we were just introducing ourselves to one another, but at the end of the interview, we started talking about my training. I actually had to clarify what exactly just happened.
But that was it. I had just been hired. In the States, as far as I can tell, when a position needs to be filled, they fill it. The process is fairly quick and simple.
But apparently that’s not at all the case here.
Standard practice is it all starts with speaking with a hiring manager, if you somehow get past the resume stage. This person, unlike their name might imply, doesn’t actually hire you. They’re just a first step in a long process of around 4-6 interviews, a task that will normally take around 1-2 hours, and contacting your references. The whole ordeal usually takes somewhere between 1-2 months.
So if you just lost your job, you need to expect that you will spend some amount of time unemployed, even if your credentials are off the charts. Get started nice and early. Because you’re in for the long haul!
3) You Must Shift Your Expectations
I had a pretty good setup with my previous job. My hours were great. I worked from home… so my commute was superb. And the pay was pretty decent as well.
I set off on my job search adventure expecting I would have to make compromises in one of those realms. I’d probably have to shift my hours, perhaps even work a really awful evening shift. Any commute would be more challenging than just walking over to my couch. But I accepted the idea that if I wanted to stop being unemployed, I might have to travel, perhaps a few times a week. Perhaps pretty darn far.
But at first I thought I could keep my paycheck intact… and as time went by, that dream seemed to be slipping away as well.
I always thought to get a job it would be absolutely necessary for me to compromise on one of these three elements. For sure, no more than two of them. And after months of searching, I’d definitely come to realize that to make ends meet, I would likely have to take a paycut, work hours I don’t want to work, and endure an uncomfortably long commute.
And I was not at all prepared for this reality.
But the quicker one realizes that massive sacrifices will likely need to made to get a job in Israel, the quicker you are likely to be able to get one. It’s sad, but true. If you want to be in Israel, shift expectations. Be prepared to compromise. Otherwise, you might be in for a very unfortunate job search.
4) The Learning Can Never End
When you have a job for too long, you tend to fall into the shampoo pattern. Lather, rinse, repeat. All day, every day. You become a master at the one thing you’re doing, but are not necessarily preparing yourself for the other things out there in the world.
But the world doesn’t stay on hold just because you do.
Learn. Learn new skills. Take on new tasks. Keep up with what the industry wants and needs.
You need to be utterly prepared for whatever might be out there when the wheels stop spinning. At worst, you have a trunk filled with skills you don’t really need. At best, you have the resume of champions when all the smoke clears, and when eventually unemployed, you’ll find yourself with infinitely more options.
5) CONNECTIONS ARE EVERYTHING
Finally, connections are everything. No, they are not just a lot. They are everything.
Theoretically, you can send thousands of resumes out to jobs you find on LinkedIn. And all those places need to hire someone. Maybe just maybe, you’ll have all the right keywords and your extensive experience will somehow magically get you to the top of the pile. But more realistically, it will disappear into some giant resume pit of despair, never to be seen or heard from again.
I’d take one connected friend who hands my resume to the hiring manager over one hundred applications sent on LinkedIn. All that I got from sending out mass applications was endless rejection notifications, and an overwhelming email inbox.
Hunt down your connections, big and small. Don’t leave any stone unturned. Somebody out there knows someone, and if you push long and hard enough, it will pay off. A job isn’t guaranteed, but it’s the best way to push past the awful initial stages and get yourself to an interview.
So stop serial applying. It’s a waste of time and mental fatigue and frustration. Start reaching out to the people you know. There’s a precious gem hidden somewhere deep within your social media connections. You just need to find it!