…Unemployed. There was a time I believed that placing the word ‘unemployed’ at the end of that sentence would negate the rest of it.
During my transition, I met several unemployed people who greatly impressed me with their energy level, focus, and expertise. After a while, I discovered some had been unemployed for much longer than I’d imagined. “How can they be so upbeat and confident after being unemployed for so long?” was the first thought in my mind. Eventually… over time… I did away with my stereotyped belief that the word ‘unemployed’ was inconsistent with any positive or flattering adjective, for all of the 5 characteristics I’ve listed -Proactive, Knowledgable, Energetic, Successful, and Unemployed- were consistently exhibited by these folks. The act that truly wrangled my mind was embracing the consistency of ‘Successful’ and ‘Unemployed.’
The New Oxford American Dictionary provides the following definitions for the words ‘successful’ and ‘unemployed:’
successful |səkˈsesfəl| adjective
- accomplishing an aim or purpose: a successful attack on the town.
- having achieved popularity, profit, or distinction: a successful actor.
unemployed |ˌənimˈploid| adjective
- (of a person) without a paid job but available to work: I was unemployed for three years | (as plural noun the unemployed) : a training program for the long-term unemployed.
- (of a thing) not in use.
Neither term identifies the other as an antonym. Interesting…
An employed person receives less scrutiny from people and groups that they meet, regarding their level of success, than an unemployed person. (Regardless of your credit rating, try applying for a credit card while unemployed.)
The longer you are unemployed, the more important it becomes for you to possess and display ownership toward your personal (and professional) value. While in transition, find a way to continue demonstrating your skills. It is even better if you can exercise your skills to achieve a previously-stated commitment, or deadline. If your skills are difficult to conduct while unemployed, show that you continue to participate in some larger program or endeavor. If you do this, you will (as I did) look forward to the ‘What have you been doing while you’ve been unemployed?” question that inevitably comes up in phone screenings and interviews.
This is the space that you want to be in, regardless of your employment status: demonstrating to yourself that you have been, and remain, successful.
Allan Channell is a new ‘Blog to Work’ contributor. He has experience in software development, project management, and has interests in communications, Tai Chi, and humor.