Let’s help John

John has graduated with a Law Degree from Trinity and gone on to qualify as a solicitor. John was thrilled to get a good position in a small law firm doing conveyancing. Things were going really well initially and he loved the feeling of having money and going for drinks with his colleagues in Temple Bar on a Friday evening. Only six months into the job, John was let go due to the downturn in property market. He was gutted as he had just bought a new BMW on hire purchase. He didn’t know how he would ever make the repayments.

He quickly made a list of law firms in the area and sent out 50 CVs. John heard nothing back. He even went and registered with FAS. In his first week of unemployment, John had a lot of energy for networking and following up leads, but by the end of the week he was disheartened by his lack of progress. When the alarm went off at 8am the following Monday morning, John knocked it off and fell asleep again until the afternoon. Guilt set in as he had a list of contacts to chase up and courses to look into, but he couldn’t face it and decided to watch Sky Sports instead.

One week led in to another and John was no further ahead. He had no idea how to handle this situation. He was used to the buzz and business of the legal firm – he missed the banter with his colleagues. He was baffled at his own lack of motivation as his previous boss said he was one of the most enthusiastic employees.

John’s story was not unfamiliar to a group of experienced, but unemployed graduates that I recently worked with. Many of the graduates had Masters degrees and had worked consistently throughout the Celtic Tiger years. We discussed what was holding John back and the group identified the following obstacles or setbacks:

  • Expectations
  • A lack of support / endurance
  • The shock of unemployment
  • A feeling of isolation
  • The loss of the BMW
  • A massive change
  • A loss of identity
  • A lack of awareness
  • Depression
  • A lack of motivation

The group then generated ways that John could get up and going again! Here are their are suggestions:

  • Financial planning to get through the process
  • Joining a support group
  • Exercising
  • Doing an activity
  • Engaging in volunteer work
  • Giving his day structure
  • Having a plan
  • Building his confidence
  • Getting out there to socialise
  • Networking with people
  • Taking a CV / job seeking skills course
  • Making short/medium/ long term goals

The group was in agreement that taking constructive action and having a plan helps ease the loss of employment. The graduates then chose at least three actions that they would commit to should they find themselves in a similar situation to John.

Some decided to network more in their respective professional groups such as the Institute of Engineers or the MBA Alumni gatherings. Others decided to join the Dublin Job Club run. The majority agreed that exercise and team activities would increase their wellbeing and motivation, and this in turn could be harnessed positively to help their job searches.

Should you find yourself feeling stuck in your career, what actions you could take that would get yourself up and running for 2013?

What community or volunteer activity could you engage in to increase your skills and visibility?

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  • TERESA ROPER February 1, 2013  

    I think this story is amazing, and i have no doubt it will help others thats get lost on their path, to start again, fabulous, great reading.

    • dearbhla February 4, 2013  

      Thanks Teresa 🙂

  • Jody February 7, 2013  

    This has unfortunately happened to so many decent, hard-working and qualified people. Unfortunately again, it’s not easy to pick yourself up, dust it off and put yourself out there again. To make things even more difficult, this is an economy in which past a certain age, even the unemployment agencies tell you to start your own business rather than entertain the hope of finding a new position!
    It’s so important not to lose morale or sight of your goals, both short- and longer-term.
    How did things work out for John? I sure hope this story has a happy ending!

  • Beth Wilkins February 9, 2013  

    I think that engaging in volunteer work when you’re unemployed is a great option, even if it’s only once a month (or once a week). Giving back to other people is a way to be in the world and do something positive. It also gives you structure, gets you out into the world, and usually gives you great contacts and the ability to socialize with others. When I first moved to my city and was unemployed, I made the mistake of holing up in my apartment for a year. Looking back, I wish I had either done volunteer work or gotten a part-time job, just to get me outside and doing something. Positive energy is contagious.