In November 2008, I learned that the Condé Nast-owned magazine where I was working, DNR, was closing. I was out of a job, along with about a dozen of my colleagues. So when I hear reports that my former employer’s decision today to close four titles has cost 180 people their jobs, I can’t help but remember that day less than a year ago when I was going through it myself.
Not only did I experience the devastation of losing my job and seeing a 116-year-old publication disappear forever, but I survived. I’m still working as a journalist, I’m not homeless and, most of the time, I can pay my bills. And the panic attacks and a paralyzing sense of self-doubt have subsided over time. I managed somehow. And so can you.
So how did I do it? I accepted help from family and friends — emotional and monetary — whenever they offered. I changed my expectations. I tried new things, talked to new people and sent my resume to everyone who I thought could help. The first six months were the most difficult, but during that time I learned more than I ever wanted to know about unemployment insurance, COBRA and writing cover letters.
If you’re one of the many who had found themselves out of a job today, I think my experiences might help you through the next scary six months of your life. Read on for three things that will help you survive unemployment.
(Photo via flickr)
Start a support group
On the day that we learned DNR was closing, my colleagues and I swapped personal email addresses. During the first few disorienting weeks of unemployment, I kept in touch with about five other women who were going through the very same thing as me. We helped each other with unemployment forms, commiserated when our new insurance cards didn’t show up for a month and met for coffee to discuss job prospects. Sometimes we competed with each other for jobs, with two in our group actually returning to Condé within the first few months. After six months, a majority of us had full-time jobs or at least the beginnings of a promising freelance career. None of us ever gave up, because we had the others to answer to.
Ask for help
Reach out to everyone you know. Right now. Sure, there are 179 people out there doing exactly the same thing you are, but you never know where your next job will come from. Now is not the time to be shy. Seek out mentors, ask for meetings, send query letters and dig into your Rolodex and the Rolodexes of your friends, employed and unemployed. Also, consider using the services of a career counselor. It’s their job to help you through times like this, and it’s probably not too difficult to find one that will negotiate his fee. I tried it myself, and found the experience to be much like talking to a shrink. She helped me through some rough times and motivated me by coming up with ideas that I never would have on my own, solely because of my lack of job hunting experience.
Start a Twitter account
If you don’t already Tweet, you should sign up immediately for a Twitter account, starting following people and start Tweeting yourself. The social media tool is great for connecting you to people just like you, as well as people who can help you find work. It’s also a great way to stay on top of industry trends, which is enormously helpful in job interviews, cover letter writing or pitching freelance articles.
Do you have a layoff or unemployment story to tell or some advice to provide? Send them to me or leave them in the comments below. Let’s turn this black day for our industry into something positive.