In 2008 the banks began to crumble, the auto industry found themselves in hot water too, the political season ended on Election Day, and as a result of all of that, conventional advertising dollars, the primary source of media revenue, took a nose dive. Despite every effort my company (Media General Inc / WNCN NBC 17) made to save its staff from lay off, on March 30, 2009, the inevitable occurred. I was not immune.
Now, I had a choice at that moment – I could wallow in self-pity, self-doubt, get pissed off at my former employer, get pissed off at the banks & car companies that helped get us into that mess, all that crap OR I could choose the exact opposite and find a way to flourish despite the circumstance. If you’ve been reading my blog over the last 15 months, you know which choice I made – the latter.
Yesterday, after an intensive 15-month search for the perfect position for me that would allow me to continue to hone my craft as a writer as well as my skills in social media, that search finally came to an end and I announced it here.
I not only survived unemployment but I thrived at it. There was not a day that I took “off” from searching or doing something that would continue to allow me to grow professionally. In the first month, yes, I took that vacation I had planned months prior. Heck, I felt I deserved it! And, on my 40th Birthday, I hightailed it out of town to celebrate away from the stress and the unknown. But, outside of that, I was either networking, speaking, building a clientele, volunteering my time, blogging, and of course, searching.
I did it all with what I call the 7Ps of Surviving Unemployment – passion, persistence, perseverance, professional development, people, patience, and prayer. Before you read on, you might want to grab yourself a good cup of joe (or other beverage of choice), not to mention block all other distractions. This is going to be a long one but hopefully, an inspirational one.
take a look at the kind of jobs that will allow you to turn your passion into work so that your work IS your passion.
The very first thing you have got to do is figure out what you’re passionate for. If you have many things that pump your juices, then narrow it down to one or two that you can concentrate on. Then, decide what skills you have – what gifts God gave you – that can only help you to cultivate that passion. Once you’ve figured out those two very important things, you can then take a look at the kind of jobs that will allow you to turn your passion into work so that your work IS your passion.
I did that. I have several passions – film, music, performing (bet you didn’t know that about me, did ya?), writing, helping others, and social media marketing. I narrowed my list down to the last three. My goal then was to find a position that could combine them.
It was 2009, the market had p-l-u-n-g-e-d. The unemployment rate was not only astronomically high, but the highest I think I’ve ever seen it (or at least taken notice of it). Of course, it didn’t help to be living in a state that had one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation either. However, I kept the faith and remained steadfast that eventually I would find something in the field I desired.
Over the last year or so, I have applied to close to 100 some-odd companies or nonprofit organizations. Sure, I could have applied to more but I centered my search around my target field and my target area – Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, also known as, the Triangle. Occasionally, I’d apply to positions in Boston, Connecticut, New York, DC, Maryland, Virginia, California, Denver, or Florida. The way I saw it, I couldn’t leave any stone unturned. If I couldn’t find the perfect job here, then I’d be willing to at least look at the options elsewhere. I had to. It would’ve been stupid of me not to in this economy.
I was persistent.
be cynical and fall into a state of (near) depression because of it OR rise above the obstacle.
Perseverance and Professional Development
With persistence usually perseverance follows close behind. Mix in a little professional development too and you’ve got your key ingredients.
Every time I got a rejection letter or a didn’t get asked for a second (or third) interview, I just kept pluggin’ away. Sure, those rejection letters can dampen your spirits. They do! But, once again, you have a choice – be cynical and fall into a state of (near) depression because of it OR rise above the obstacle. I chose to rise!
By doing so, I’d spend my time networking in the circles I wished to make key contacts in but more importantly, grow relationships with. I’m a big believer in getting to know people because you never know who it is you’ll meet that might be the next connection for you or even better, that you might be a connection for them!
Networking wasn’t the only way I found to press on. I volunteered my time mostly for events or organizations that centered around my passion (Ignite Raleigh, Social Media Business Forum, Wordcamp RDU, various nonprofit organizations, etc.). Even better – I created my own woman’s networking group, Triangle Ladies Who Tweet which later merged with Tweet Divas. Now, I’m the Lead Organizer of Triangle Tweet Divas events that not only allow the ladies of the Triangle to meet with those they Tweet with but also gives back to the local community through charitable donations at each event. I did this. I made my time useful but above all, rewarding. You give & you get back ten-fold!
Another source of strength and perseverance for me – I was invited to speak on the subject of social media at several area nonprofit gatherings. By presenting at organizations such as the Cleveland School Rotary, the Johnston County Beekeepers Association, the Johnston County Human Services Council, the for-profit NC School of Math and Science, and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit Alliance, once again I continued to hone my skills in social media as well as in public speaking.
OK, so I’m a former teacher. One can never practice their presentation skills enough, right?
Probably my biggest accomplishment in the face of obstacles that allowed me to press on – my “campaign” to work for Alicia Keys and the positive results from it despite not being selected as a semi-finalist. Rather than rehash the details to that, you can read all about it on my professional site here. The important thing to take away from it is that I strove for an amazing opportunity despite the odds and while I didn’t even come close, I walked away with more expertise, more contacts, and more relationships. It really was a win!
I persevered, and all of this falls under developing professionally too.
in today’s market you NEED to market yourself
Besides networking and public speaking, I continued to surround myself with people who would help me grow professionally, challenge me, encourage me, and believed in me. Whether I met each one in person or got to know them online (and to the skeptics on that I say – Pfft! Give it a try before you judge.) or they were already part of my community of friends (in real life or on Facebook), followers (on Twitter), readers (on my blogs), and viewers (of my You Tube Channel), each connection I have made has only made that much more of a difference to me professionally AND personally.
Want to know why I went for the Copywriter / Social Media Specialist position at Media Two? I’ll tell you.
I had been following Michael Hubbard, CEO / Media Director of Media Two, on Twitter for quite some time; not because I wanted a job but because he engages on the medium with relevant topics that interest me. So, when he Tweeted out that they had a position available, I inquired. Add to that that my friend and fellow Tweet Diva, Morgan Siem, is not only a part of their team but speaks very highly of the company and is a top-notch social media strategist in the area herself, well, I had to at least find out more about the open position. Let’s not forget fellow Tweet Diva, Ellie Johnson, an amazing lady who absolutely shines on behalf of Media Two, once again, it was a no-brainer.
Had I not made connections, cultivated relationships with people I originally got to know online, I’m not entirely sure I would’ve been right up there in the consideration pool…and that’s not because I don’t believe in myself or I don’t have the experience they need. Rather, it’s simply because of two very important factors – (1) in today’s market you NEED to market yourself and (2) that old saying “it’s who you know” really does apply.
I made the choice to go out there and get to know my community and that made all the difference in the world.
if you don’t have the faith to give you that patience, then this is probably going to be the toughest “P” you’ll ever have.
Patience (and faith)
This does not need a whole paragraph. A simple sentence will do. If you don’t have patience but, more importantly, if you don’t have the faith to give you that patience, then this is probably going to be the toughest “P” you’ll ever have.
What I will say in addition is this – my faith is very strong. Most people who know me know that. Because of that presence in my life (hey look – another “P” word!), I am a very patient person. It’s a fruit of the spirit and it’s one fruit that I’m happy is a part of my soul.
Patience is what got me through more times than I can count thanks to my faith, which segways into the last one -
Deep, constant, trusting, believing type of prayer is the only way to go. I’m not saying that I never lift up a simple prayer every now and then. Yeah, occasionally in this process I’d look up and go “OK, God, you have that path for me, now lead me to it, will ya? Today would be a great day for that!” Mostly, though, as with all of my other relationships, if I don’t cultivate the one I have with my Father in Heaven, how can I expect anything more?
Prayer is a KEY component…a key “P” if you will…to surviving the rut that can be unemployment.
There you go – the 7 Ps. If you have recently become unemployed or have already been living the “not so” dream, I hope these 7 Ps – passion, persistence, perseverance, professional development, people, patience, and prayer – have given you inspiration.
Your turn will come. Believe it. Live it! You have a choice. I’ll leave it at that.
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