During my period of unemployment, my ego was under assault since I had always been the big money guy.
I was depressed, anxious and irritable. How could the job marketplace be closed for me, someone with so many skills?
However, my spouse was not helping, not because she was a bad person, but because I never communicated my thoughts and feelings to elicit her empathy.
Tension was all around.
Has your spouse ever criticized you, even subtly, because you aren’t doing enough, not trying hard enough, or not making enough headway, all while you are diligently trying to get a job?
The problem with spouses is that they make assumptions and you, the unemployed, sometimes fail to appropriately educate them.
However, you should want and need your spouse’s explicit support to handle unemployment.
Spouses, especially if they have never been unemployed:
- May see you as the new cook, butler, shopper and maid since you have so much “free time”
- Probably can’t begin to imagine the feelings of anger, guilt, frustration, boredom, etc.
- Are also scared about money and the future, especially if you have kids
- Don’t realize how hard it is to find a job, especially as you get more senior
- However, they probably don’t realize how much they can help you get back to work
Communication is the key, not only to reduce family tension, but also to convince your spouse to be your advocate in very tangible ways they probably didn’t know even exist.
So how can you turn family tension into spousal support?
- Admit you are scared and nervous about finding a new job (anyone scared to admit feelings like I am?)
- Let your spouse know that since networking is the key to finding a job, when you are out of the house having coffees, it is all business, not play
- When your spouse asks how many jobs you applied for today (presumably on job search boards), let them know that they are ineffective, and networking is the answer
- Gently communicate that although you are happy to pick up some additional chores around the house, looking for a job is really a full-time job
- Relate to your spouse that many of your friends and colleagues are also unemployed; even make a list to show them
- Ask your spouse for help in networking by brainstorming together about how to use the spouse’s physical and social media network to advocate for you (more to come on this topic…)
Looking for a job is painful; you really need to bring your spouse on board to help with moral support and complement your networking efforts.
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