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When you take a career break, you can enter a world of unknown with additional problems. This may include changes in your everyday routine, lack of a steady income and varying moods. Unemployment occurs from various sources such as redundancies, organisational restructures and economic downturn or even personal choice. Everyone reacts differently to change, but when working with clients I have found the following helpful:

Adapt to change: For some unemployment is painful, others exciting, yet learning to adapt is essential. This is important because unemployment is considered a negative transition when compared to positive transitions, such as graduating from University or landing the job offer you wanted.

Accept changes: Changes are a part of life, so you must remain flexible. For me, I am actually slow at adapting to change and have worked hard on this by seeing the future positives and letting go of the past. Release your past life and work expectations, and begin to explore new alternate paths in your career phase.

There is no failure only feedback. This is important when you are actively looking for a new job. Learn from the past and learn from those employment rejections by bouncing back, asking for feedback, assessing what you can, making necessary improvements, and moving on.

Thrive on hope: You might have already heard – your view of unemployment affects your ability to press through. In this period of transition, you may find it harder to function, if you are going through it, without hope. Why? Because your suffering will have you believing, it is the end of the world. You can start to see career breaks as a paralyzing event instead of a challenge.

Maintaining the right perspective: With the right perspective, you will gain understanding into what you can and cannot control. Each day, do what you can to better your situation. When you function with hope, on the other hand, you see your situation from the right perspective and keep going onward. With this perspective, you foster a positive outlook. There is a job for you somewhere – see a rejection as a learning opportunity.

Learn and grow: One negative effect of long-term unemployment is skills atrophy. The longer a person is out of work, the more likely it is their skills will begin to deteriorate through lack of use and training. Here is a secret! Active learning increases your positivity in unemployment and it is also beneficial for your career. You cannot predict what happens in your career. Do not hesitate to learn something new during this time including how you react to change.

Care for yourself daily: When I say care for yourself daily, I mean your whole being – spiritual, mental, emotional, and physical. It is easy to ignore yourself – and push yourself to the point of exhaustion – when you are coping with unemployment. What happens next? You participate in the unhealthy behaviour of neglecting yourself. Worrying becomes commonplace and has negative effects on your health. Make it a mission to care for yourself during this time and prioritise your well-being. Get some exercise. Talk with friends. Network with like-minded people. Go to a training course. Seek out a confident or coach.

Practice patience and endure: The average length of unemployment can be upwards of 60 weeks, particularly for older adults and patience is essential when you do not know when your next job appears. The wait is challenging, but it provides opportunities to mature, plan and refocus.

Some reflection points:

  • Have you moved past your negative reactions, or are you stuck in them? Perhaps you are still angry with your previous employer or maybe you have unresolved issues to think about.
  • Are you living out your core values? It may be time to assess your life progression, your interests, habits, strengths, weaknesses and skills.
  • What is your employer of choice? Where do you want to work? Research and stay up-to-date on trends and changes, for example and look at the wider industry.
  • Is this your chance to re-skill? What other hidden talents or areas of knowledge do you want to use in your next job. Sure, you may have to take a lower salary, however finding a role that utilises your other core skills can be truly rewarding.

Reflect on every aspect of your life for development and think deeply about your career. What must you become and what do you want to accomplish? Maybe it is time to invest in skill-building activities, help others by volunteering or even looking at casual role to get you motivation levels up. Whatever you choose, believe in yourself.