Where are all the jobs?
Where are all the jobs?

How to deal with stress and anxiety when looking for a job during a recession.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment was 8.8 % in March of this year. It is now May, and no matter what the government says, many people still do not have a job, especially here in New York, where 30-year-old beggars at street corners in button-down white shirts hold placards that read: “Out of unemployment benefits. Please help if you can.”

To make matters even more depressing, many neighbourhood stores and restaurants are closing down after decades of providing service, unable to keep up with ever-increasing rents. What is happening to our society, and why are things not yet better? Furthermore, how can we keep our famous cheery, American attitude when the situation is seemingly getting worse?

Are We Asking for Too Much?

I cannot help but wonder what my generation is doing wrong and why so many of the 20-year-olds I know are still out of work after obtaining a bachelor’s or Master’s degree. Even more disheartening is that I have friends who tell me that when they are in a position to hire, they only look through the first two or three dozen e-mails to recruit candidates and satisfy themselves with “just good enough” individuals. It will sound critical, but I have to ask, is anyone checking up on this kind of superficiality? A candidate cannot question a potential employer on the hiring process, but maybe we have to start thinking differently.

I, for one, though I could get past the anonymity of the e-mail and the online application when I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to drop off my resume in person. I wore my best suit and had a tailored cover letter and resume ready. I did not want an interview; I wanted to drop off my materials to the Human Resources section, for I believe very much in face-to-face contact. Once at the museum, my smile was quickly wiped off my face by the attitude of the Help Desk ladies, all of whom were over sixty years old. I did not even get past the front desk at the museum, and my online resume was probably never seen.

What To Do

So what do I do? Stay inside all day, depressed, thinking about how shall I pay my next bill? Or do I do some temporary work here and there and get out a little bit? I choose the latter. Unfortunately, stress and anxiety are integral parts of the job search, and often they amount to a considerable loss of confidence. But here’s some advice from friends, therapists and other helpful lifelines that have helped me and perhaps will help you as well.

1. Go for a Walk. The purpose of this activity is to get away from the computer, from the writing and sending, from the e-mails on top of e-mails. Walk outside, especially now that the weather is fair and beautiful with summer’s advent.

2. Join a Club. I would recommend a book club because it seems that it often has much to offer, but you can join any club you want: sports, karaoke, language, etc. In New York, the site Meetup.com has plenty of groups to offer, with meetings set up monthly, where you can meet with people who can help keep you positive.

3. Speak to Someone. Talk to your parents, talk to your friends, talk about the year of your significant other or your therapist. Talk about what you are feeling. It is a difficult period for everyone, and people will sympathize, and if they do not, talk to somebody else who will understand.

4. Make Time for Hobbies. Read, write, go to the theatre, see a play, make music, take an acting class, go to the park to people watch, etc. There are so many things to do to fill your time and enrich your existence, so go out and do them. Your community is most likely full of these activities, and if it is not, maybe it is a sign that you can start with them and help others.

5. One word: indulge. Drink some wine; eat some chocolate. You may not get the time to have a glass at 10 a.m. again once you get a job, so make the most of it, and do not worry about gaining weight—these are challenging times!


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