Long-Term Unemployment Story: My Dad Finds a Job!

In 2013, the company that my dad worked for had gone through a merger. Earlier this year, his team went through a massive restructuring. Unfortunately, my dad was part of the workforce that was laid off. It's been a tough couple of years for him. Unlike current day Millennials (including myself) who hop around from job to job every year or so, my dad was part of the baby boomer generation who values stability and loyalty to an employer.  He had stayed at a company for roughly 25 years, and has worked for maybe a total of 4 companies in his whole career (I'm already at company #4 and I'm only 4.5 years out of school). Back in 2010, he went through a round of layoffs with that company, but was able to easily bounce back into the job market. This time around, it took him nearly 8 months to find something new.

Since I live in Northern California, and my family is in Southern California, I didn't realize the severity of my dad's unemployment situation until my mom and brother called to tell me. My dad has always been someone who prided himself in his work; he was a workhorse who stayed up late and focused a lot on his career. After a couple months of not being able to find something, he lost confidence and one could tell he was generally not happy.

It took a lot for us as a family to get him out of that slump. My mom, brother and I agreed to be more involved in his job search, and to be a better support network. I came up with the idea to start giving him "homework" about things to think about (aka soul search); he had a lot of free time now, so I wanted him to find his passion or find things that actually interest him. Over Thanksgiving break, we ended up practicing interview questions for about 3 hours.  I think it gave him more confidence going into the interview, and it definitely paid off, as he got the job. He's planning to start after the new year :)

I learned a lot about myself and about my dad during this whole process. There were definitely a lot of generational differences between what how my dad (baby boomers) and how I (Millennial) saw a career.

Here's what I learned:

1) Life is not all about work. This is always a good reminder to know that there's more to life than just working away and making money. No matter what generation you are in (Baby Boomer, Gen X or Gen Y), there's always more to life than working your life away.

2) Confidence is key. Over the years, I've learned that one must be able to convince yourself first before being able to convince others. Maybe this falls into the "fake it till you make it" category. Either way,a huge factor into why one might not get a job is their level of confidence and being able to communicate that to the interviewer. Oftentimes, candidates automatically weed themselves out by saying (or even thinking) stuff like "I'm not experienced enough," "I haven't done that in the past," "I'm too junior."  Whenever this happens, you fail to convince not only yourself, but also the interviewer that you are not a good fit for the job. Be confident, stop doubting yourself, and stop giving the interviewer reasons to reject you.

3) Take time to reflect and find your passion. Traditionally, people work to pay the bills, feed the family, pay off loans, etc. What's fascinating is that some people go through the motion and put in many years (or even decades) never figuring out what they truly want to do.  Even after they've found a way to make ends meet, they stick with their traditional corporate job.  They are not entirely unhappy but not passionate either, and never question what else they could do to merge their passions and career together; after all, we spend a majority of our lives working. This was exactly the case with my dad; even though he's saved up enough money to retire, he felt at a loss of what to do with his spare time.  I strongly urge everyone to take time to soul search occasionally and re-evaluate their career paths to see how they want to spend their time.

4) Keep pushing. Job searching is tedious. Rejection is difficult. Interviewing is hard. There are so many hardships in trying to find a job, but at the end of the day, you need to keep pushing. Push yourself to send just one more application each day. If you aren't reaching for it, someone else is. Remember that job searching is a numbers game; the more applications you send in and the more you network, the greater the chances you have of landing a job.

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This wraps up my posts for 2014! Happy holidays to all my readers and thanks for reading! More tips to come in 2015.