With a masters graduation ceremony and a licensing exam on the horizon, I spent nearly 2 months in a warehouse. Walking briskly down musty aisles picking out clothes and accessories for online orders, daydreaming about the best-selling novel I’d never write, interacting with co-workers with foreign credentials, limited education and/or limited English skills – I spent my days wondering how I ended up here.
We cannot talk about workplace mental health without dealing with the reality of the job market – which is that some people are underemployed (high skilled workers working low paying jobs), precariously employed, or between jobs and unemployed.
With it taking almost 20 years for the average young person working full-time to save for a down payment of 20% on a house in the GTA, full-time employment remains highly coveted.
Eventually I grew to like my routine of waking up early to commute to the warehouse. I made a good friend from the warehouse. I started thinking critically about the ethical production of the clothes I was picking out. I made friends with coworkers: helped one with her English skills, learned about Ukrainian movies from another. I got in shape due to having to frequently lift boxes of clothes and being on my feet.
By the time I was lucky enough to find a job in my field, I realized that I was privileged. I had the potential to find better paying and more satisfying employment, unlike many of my coworkers at the warehouse. It made me grateful for what I did have.
Dealing with underemployment or unemployment while job-seeking is frustrating for most. Here are some tips to ease the stress (Bruneau, 2016):
1) Take each opportunity as a positive learning experience. An interview that did not lead an acceptance? Makes for excellent practice for the next interview. Don’t know which jobs to apply to? It means you are open for possibilities. Take this time to reflect on your desires and explore which experiences you liked or are willing to try!
2) Get part-time employment. Whether it is a job related to your field or completely outside of it, temporary employment can be extremely beneficial as a means to establish a daily routine and bring in some income. As a plus, you can use it to learn about a different industry, make new contacts and friends, and gain perspective on the work that others do, making your next employment that much more valuable.
3) Do not personalize rejection. Looking for a job is a job in and of itself, and rejections are a natural part of the process. There are so many reasons for why a company might not accept you into the position: there was an internal candidate, there were budget cuts, you were overqualified, etc. Assuming you know the reason why you were rejected despite a lack of evidence is not helpful, and furthermore, is likely inaccurate.
4) Connect with your social network. There are two reasons for this. One is that you can let your contacts know that you are job seeking, which can lead to contacts within a hiring company or informational interviews on positions you are interested in. On top of that, it helps you get out of the house, catch up with those who can provide support in this difficult time, and prevent isolation.
5) Do some self-care. Be kind to yourself. Have a daily routine of doing the things you’ve been neglecting or haven’t had the time for. Exercise routines, eating healthy, and sleeping at scheduled times can go a long way in easing stress. Read an inspirational book, and learn from others.
I am a different, wiser person because of my unemployed and underemployed experiences, and I wouldn’t change that. Nelson Mandela was quoted to have said “It always seems impossible until it is done”. When you feel that satisfying employment is not likely or out of sight, remember that it might just be around the corner.
Bruneau, M. (Aug 13, 2016). 8 Tips To Help You Find A Job. Women@Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/meganbruneau/2016/08/13/8-tips-for-staying-motivated-when-youre-unwillingly-unemployed/#2445be0eac9e
Image from https://www.pinterest.com/pin/229965124693422534/
Quote from http://lifehacker.com/5853601/it-always-seems-impossible-until-it-is-done