5 Things I find more enjoyable than seeking employment:

When the going gets tough, the tough get a part-time gig at the Crate & Barrel to pay the electric bill. Look-it, there’s a lot of crap advice floating around on the surface of this cesspool that we’re calling a job market. Advice about spell-checking the ol’ resume and how to put the perfect crease on your beige pant suit for the big interview. Well, whoop de doo, I say. Thanks a million for the inside scoop. Now, does somebody, anybody (after I quit screaming) please want to tell me, tell us (since, by the look of things, I’m not in this alone) how to survive? I mean, after being “let go”, (a phrase which by the way I resent for its snide implication we’re not worth holding onto, I suppose?) how do you overcome that kind of sucker-punch to your self-esteem and keep it moving? How do you wake up each and every morning and subject yourself, once again, to the litany of rejections, and the no-replies and the general confidence beat down that is the job hunt of the laid-off worker? One mouse-click at a time, that’s how. Resumes and choosing the right font for that all-important cover letter aren’t nearly close to being where the real fight is. The true battle for the unemployed job seeker is going down on the inside. I’m talking about those not-so-insignificant adversaries of self-doubt, fear and anxiety. Ladies and gentlemen of the 8.5% and climbing, fasten your seat belts babies, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. But, don’t lose heart. Yes, it’s true, some of us may be up shit’s creek – professionally and economically speaking – but we’re not entirely without a paddle. TRUST! Can we find a way to maintain in this cold-blooded economy? Mmmm hmmm. And, can we find our way to bigger and better career challenges? YES, the hell we CAN!

Here’s how:

Get practical – Deep down, each of us knows what “doing the right thing” means when it comes to our individual jobless situations. Whether that means filing for unemployment, calling up your boss from three years ago to ask for a letter of recommendation, taking some wack part-time gig you don’t really want to make ends meet, or opening up the stack of bills that have been piling up in your kitchen drawer. None of this is fun stuff, but we hold our noses and do it anyway. ‘Cause I swear on my mama’s best weave, the monster you face is so much less scary than the monster you hide from.

Get positive

“No time for moping around, are you kidding, no time for negative vibes, cause I’m winning” (Mary J. Blige – Just Fine)

Believe me, I can testify that when you’re out of work, you don’t feel like playing Little Ms. Sunshine. However, wallowing in doom and gloom doesn’t turn the phone back on, either. Despair all you want, but as a strictly practical matter, optimism works a lot better than, well, negativity. I don’t know about you, but if the “audacity of hope” is good enough for our president, I figure it’s good enough for me. He has to dig a whole country out of an enormous dung heap, all we have to do is find ourselves one itsy bitsy little job a piece! So go ahead  and have the audacity to hope that your situation is going to change for the better and you just might hasten its happening.

Get moving – It’s truly amazing just how much less terrifying the world looks after some squats and a few jumping jacks. Of course, 45 minutes of cardio isn’t going to solve anyone’s financial problems (unless you’re an aerobics instructor). But, what it can do is give you an outlet to relieve some of the inevitable stress and tension that come along with the unemployment blues. Hey, throwing a couple of mean hooks and uppercuts in kickboxing class beats the hell out of firing up a crack pipe! And, if nothing else, regular exercise will likely mean you’re clothes will fit you better, and that can’t help but be a morale booster in the next interview you land.

Get connected – It’s tempting, oh so very very tempting, to want to disconnect from the world when you lose your job. Being unemployed, especially when it’s not of your own making, can make you feel like the social equivalent of a leper. It can make you start avoiding family and gainfully employed friends, because who wants to suffer through the indignity of their pity, or the offers to pick up the tab…again. But, fight the temptation to press “pause” on the world. Why? Because human beings need other human beings to function. Period. Just like water, air and shelter – people help sustain us. Staying in touch with the people that you love and love you is essential in feeding your spirit, and keeping up the positivity that is so necessary in attracting potential employers. Also, since so much of landing a job is who you know as much as what you know, staying connected and staying social is actually part and parcel of the job-seeking game.

Get an alter ego – Hey, if Beyonce can have Sasha Fierce, why can’t the rest of us swagger-jack Mrs. Carter, and get us an alter ego too? True Story: After being “liberated” from my employment recently, I looked at the bleak state of the job market and decided I was going to need some help. Make that a lot of help. So, I created “Mahogany Ferocious”, my badass alter ego, to assist me in my quest for work. Don’t get me wrong, my host personality (Ali) has her good points – she’s relatively bright, creative, educated, and hard-working – but, she also has plenty of shortcomings (i.e. she can be a wee bit unsure of herself, shy, a smidgen anti-social — none of which are helpful attributes in my search for gig). So, along comes Mahogany Ferocious, and let tell you – she is straight killing the self-confidence game. Mahogany sends out resume after resume to positions Ali never even would dream of considering. While shy Ali is wasting time chewing her nails down to the nubs and debating whether or not she has the appropriate qualifications to apply for a particular position, Mahogany has already made a call and faxed over our credentials.

Get over yourself – If throwing a pity party were profitable, I would’ve had dozens of job offers before you could say “pink slip.” But, unfortunately, being the Paris Hilton of the pity party circuit is not a good hustle. And, although when I’m in the throes of despair over my personal employment predicament, the last thing I want to hear is how someone else has it worse. The fact is, someone does. True story Part Deux: The other night, my stomach in knots over my mounting bills and diminishing prospects for work, I went for a drive to clear my cranium. I took a wrong turn downtown, and ended up on a street where literally dozens of human beings were huddled under a bridge, blanketed in in cardboard and newspaper. Suddenly, I wasn’t thinking about how crappy my own situation was anymore, but how lucky I was. I realized with an overwhelming flood of gratitude that I had a home to go back to, a running vehicle to get to and from interviews, family and friends who had my back if things totally went to pot. I went home (blessing one) and sent out four resumes online (blessing two), knowing that if any of them responded for an interview, they’d call the cell phone (blessing three) number that was printed on the page, and I would drive (blessing four) to the interview knowing that I had decent transportation to get me to work should I be offered a job. Nothing changed during that little drive except my perspective. But that nothing was everything. OK my 8.51% brethren and sistren: Hold your heads high. Stay strong. Take heart. Of course we’re going to be scared some of the time. It’s normal to be scared. But too much fear and self-doubt is a toxic combination, so know when to let it go. We’re going to need all our strength and then some to tackle this jobmarket-zilla. But, please believe that we CAN do this. YES….WE….CAN! Believe.

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