Law graduate Brian John Spencer shares some of the lessons he learnt from his period of extended unemployment.
Are you young and jobless? Until recently I was. So I know the difficulties you're going through if you are. It's a painful experience; definitely the most challenging period of my life so far. It seemed the whole world was rushing by and all the while you're sitting idle for weeks and months on end... waiting and waiting and waiting to hear back on a job...only to get the rejection notice.
Fortunately that dark period of my life is now over. However the job I was looking for never actually came. In the end I finished up by jumping off the job seekers bandwagon and started out on my own. I had studied Law and French and had knocked on the doors of big corporates for nearly two years, but it came to a point where I was like: enough is enough.
So I took the metaphorical leap and did an about turn on my original career trajectory and abandoned the office route. And now I'm working for myself. That means I write blogs for some small companies, I also advise some small start ups on how to use social media, and I coach rugby to teenagers.
Basically I'm doing everything I love. I'm writing and getting paid, teaching small and ambitious companies about social media and getting compensated, and coaching the game I love and getting a bit of cash for the joy of doing so. And now that things for me have picked up I can look back with an understanding; an understanding that has equipped me the life lessons that now allow me to move forward with confidence and conviction. I want to share those lessons with you.
The central lesson that I learnt from my stint of prolonged joblessness was that no-one really cares. Certainly no-one is going to come to you and do you any favours. So you've got to get out there and make yourself seen, make yourself heard. Make the most of the tools at your disposal. That's what I did: as well as applying for jobs I blogged, I cartooned, I built a presence on social media and I networked and got as much advice from as many people as I could.
I also learnt that you need to keep busy, develop your skills and keep your mind and your competencies sharp. So I coached rugby on a voluntary basis and got some qualifications. Read a lot and I also went to church every Sunday and helped at the local boxing club.
I also learnt that you need to surround yourself with ambitious, go-getters; people who are going places. Encapsulate yourself with people like that and big things can happen. Hang around with downbeat persons and you'll soon be dragged down. I also learnt that, although things can seem very difficult, you need to think big; try to constantly remain upbeat, imagine your end goal and picture yourself there.
I also learnt that having a healthy body and a healthy mind greatly improves your outlook and state of mind. So think about easing off on the drink and setting new lifestyle goals. Think about dropping a dress size or losing some of the gut. You'll be surprised how the effects of this can have positive repercussions on other aspects of your life.
Finally, think about breaking the mould. For too long I was going with the herd and applying for graduate jobs. But only after doing everything above did I realise that you can also do something else: you can go out and be your own boss! If you have a passion or dream, follow it. Speak with a local enterprise agency and see if you can get help with your idea.
Going on my own is what I chose. Was it hard? Yes. But I was faced with a simple choice: play it safe and keep trying for a corporate job. Or, take the risk and potentially take the rewards. Ultimately I realised that the things people regret the most are the chances that they don't take. So it was an easy choice for me to make.
Yes things are rosy but it was a hard slog getting to where I am now. You can get to that point in your life too. Yes it'll take hard work and determination, but it will be worth it.
I hope that the lessons I learnt and shared with you could perhaps help you too. But whatever you do, do NOT just sit in your house let the world go by. There's a big world out there and it's moving forward fast, so get out there and make yourself known.