How To Cope With Long Term Unemployment

be grateful for small things

I often mention in my posts why it’s important to belong to job search networking groups.  That is because I am the founder and facilitator of 2 such groups.  For the last 5 years, I have met with job searchers in various stages of their search.  The members represent different industries and roles.  The thing they all had in common was their job search stress and frustration.

One of the things I urge them to do is to see the positive things in their lives.  They are facing many negatives, and it prevents them from seeing anything good.  To help them look for the good, I ask each member to say their name, the type of work they are looking for, and one good thing that has happened to them since the last time we met. 

Often they have to dig to find something good and come up with something like their car started that day.  It is a good thing; they didn’t have to take their car in for repairs.  Eventually, they begin to see that yes they are unemployed, but not everything in their life is bad. 

Here are some of the “good” things they have shared:

  • S. spent the day with his son on the son’s 10th birthday.
  • M. was able to take care of some family issues that no one had time for.
  • C. updated her portfolio.
  • J. lowered her blood pressure after being laid off from a toxic work environment.
  • S. finished a home improvement project that he never had time to finish.  His wife was very happy.
  • L. met the love of her life at a networking event. 
  • A. & J. grew up in the same neighborhood, each moved away, and many years later reconnected through a networking group.
  • Many people said they met wonderful people.
  • Countless people announced they had a phone screen or an interview.
  • Numerous mentioned something about the weather; it rained; it didn’t rain; it didn’t snow;or they saw a rainbow.

Big or small each good thing helped a job searcher see that there was hope. Even the employed members still have good and bad days because everyone does.  We should all look for the good in our lives and be grateful. When we are grateful for what we have, the things we don’t have seem less important.

Please share one good thing that has happened to you in the last few days.  I’ll start—I thought I lost my new cell phone, when I did find it, it had been out in a parking lot for almost 24 hours.  It was still there, not crushed and in perfect working order. 

How can I help you in your job search?

8 Comments to "How To Cope With Long Term Unemployment"

  1. February 25, 2014 - 9:04 am | Permalink

    I was laid off after the crash in ’08. I watched the company owner walk away with millions upon millions and I was given a small severance package. It felt like the end of the world.

    But my wife reminded me; you aren’t dead. You’re still here with your kids and family and we’ll get through it.

    So remember that, I guess. SO WHAT if you loose your possessions. All the stuff in your house isn’t worth failing health.

  2. David's Gravatar David
    February 17, 2014 - 9:56 am | Permalink

    Hi Arleen,
    I have been unemployed for almost a year. I think it is important to move on and keep as positive as one can. Try to get the histories/circumstances of the past postion behind you and look forward at the new chapter that is opening up in front of you. You do need to talk about the past, the negatives the “why’s & what if’s”. You need to release yourself so you aren’t stuck. I don’t want to make it sound like it is easy. You need to look at the new opportunities ahead of you, the new experiences. I don’t look at my situation as a gap in my employment. I have taken workshops, courses, attended professional meetings, upgraded my computer skills, watched webinars to keep current in my profession. You have move forward and look at your situation as a new lesson in life preparing you for a new chapter.
    – D

  3. Cathy McGrath's Gravatar Cathy McGrath
    February 13, 2014 - 6:18 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for the reminder to think positive. I’m going through similar frustrations.

  4. February 3, 2014 - 4:11 pm | Permalink


    I am in IT and into my second year being unemployed. Utilized the time to upskill while actively looking out for the next job but haven’t even made it to the interview stage. Feel like as if I am fighting a losing battle. Now that there is a gap in my CV, I am not sure if it is the reason for potential employers to turn down my application?

    Thanks for your article to keep looking for positives. I have actually been doing just that all along unconsciously.



  5. Mike's Gravatar Mike
    January 31, 2014 - 2:39 pm | Permalink

    Hi Arleen – Thanks for the post. This morning I was passed over again (this time for a part time retail job). I’ve been out of work this time of year 3 of the last 4 years and 6 times since 2001. I’m 46 years old, with a family and mortgage. I’m struggling to stay motivated in my job search/possible career change. But it’s not all awful. I’m an avid road biker and got out for a couple hours on the bike. I find these rides helpful to get out of the house, get some exercise and think. I also spend a lot more time with my boys and help them with their homework and help out with their baseball & basketball teams.

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