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Jobless, But Not Hopeless

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Dear Christine,
I have gotten to the point of despair when it comes to finding a job. I know I am not alone in this terrible market, but I am starting to lose all motivation. I've been looking for a job for six months now and I feel like my degree is completely going to waste. How do I stay hopeful and afloat on a sinking ship?
- Jobless and hopeless, 26

Dear Jobless and Hopeless,

The first thing I recommend is to stay out of the conversation of how terrible the job market is as much as possible. Yes, the economy and employment rate may not be optimal right now but how much energy are you spending reaffirming this in your own life? Notice how much you think about it, talk about it, read about it, or expose yourself to it through the news and media. Giving more energy and attention to how difficult things are is not helping you. Think about it - is reading yet another article or hearing one more news report about layoffs encouraging you? Probably not. If anything, it's bringing up more fear.

Consider going cold turkey when it comes to any behavior or thoughts that reinforce this hopeless feeling. Now I am not saying to be in denial and just expect that a job is going to fall into your lap if you think positively. What I am saying is to redirect your energy. Fill the space you have been occupying with fear and doubt with creativity, action and a positive vision of your future.

For instance, think about the words and phrases you have on your resume and cover letters that you use to describe yourself to potential employers. Perhaps there are some things like: "hard-worker, multi-tasking, accountable, experienced, self-starter, out of the box thinker, strong worth ethic, dynamic." Ask yourself, are you employing these qualities NOW?

I've noticed that many people are going into such a place of worry that they not bringing forward the qualities they are promising to a potential future employer during their job search. Reframe this time of seeking employment as an actual job. How can you be your own best employee right now? Move from a position of being powerless to becoming more empowered. Make this time of crisis a true time of learning and opportunity to be innovate, proactive and dedicated. Don't buy into your story of being unmotivated - who would want to hire that person anyway?

And speaking of hiring, there are still jobs out there. For example, the government is going through a huge hiring campaign right now. Of course working for Uncle Sam may not be your dream job but there is no shame in taking a job that supports you financially while you continue taking steps back toward your desired career path. Your degree does not have an expiration date. Explore multiple fields right now and realize that any work experience is beneficial.

Also, in situations where we become so focused on obtaining one "thing" that we ignore all other things, it mysteriously seems to elude us. Often we miss opportunities that may be right in front of our face due to tunnel vision. Ever noticed how when you are shopping for something in particular it's more difficult to find? Get yourself involved in things that are uplifting and even distracting. And remember to appreciate the things that are working in your life. It's nearly impossible to be hopeless when you are grateful.

Yes, it's challenging right now but how you take on this challenge will determine how successfully you overcome it. Don't lose hope or momentum. We all need to start to shift the consciousness of our country from one of hopelessness to one of taking action and creating new opportunities for ourselves and each other.

- Christine

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