Dealing with unemployment | Advice for Young People | Jigsaw

Dealing with unemployment

Dealing with unemployment

Thursday, 07 January 2021

Most of us expect that after being a student at school or college we will get a job and embark on a career.

Lots of young people work to help finance their studies. However, particularly in the current climate, many are finding it difficult to find a job or a career. When facing the uncertainty around employment it is vital to pay attention to our mental health.

image of a CV on a desk with a laptop and a cup of coffee
Be aware of what you tell yourself in relation to your situation. Talk to yourself with compassion in the same way you would a friend.

Unemployment doesn't define you

Many of us fall into the trap of defining ourselves by what we do. Often the first question that comes up we meet some one we haven’t seen for a while is ‘what are you up to?’. When we are unemployed, we may feel a loss of part of our identity.

First of all, it is important to acknowledge that being unemployed is not your fault. Data from the Central Statistics Office show that young people have been particularly hard hit by unemployment during the pandemic. More than a third of the 16-25 age group experienced unexpected job loss.

Be aware of what you tell yourself in relation to your situation. Talk to yourself with compassion in the same way you would a friend.

Give yourself time

Job loss and unemployment can bring a range of emotions, including, grief, shame, anger, fear and low mood. These emotions may take time to process. It might be uncomfortable, but try to allow yourself time to acknowledge how you feel. Talk to someone you trust, or perhaps try writing it out.

Accept that some changes may be difficult and sad and others may lead to new opportunities and growth. Acknowledge that some days may feel endless and others will go well.

Locus of control

Locus of control is the extent to which people feel they have control over events that influence their lives. Understandably, many of us are worrying about the future. However, it can help to accept the reality of uncertainty at this time.

Acknowledge what you have control over and what you do not. For example, you can’t control which jobs are out there and what employers are looking for.

Here are some of the things you can control:

  • Who you connect with
  • How you spend your time
  • How you present yourself in applications
  • Maintaining a positive attitude

Try focusing on those things you can control.

Young people have shown incredible agility and adaptability in coping with this unusual year. Think about what skills and strengths you have developed or demonstrated.

Keep perspective

It is important to remember this will pass, and there will be employment again. The landscape may be changing constantly, however, this creates room for people with new innovative ideas to come forward.

Young people have shown incredible agility and adaptability in coping with this unusual year. Think about what skills and strengths you have developed or demonstrated in response to the situation. How can you present these skills and strengths to an employer?

Remember that you are not alone in this. Unfortunately, unemployment and financial worries are not unusual at this time. It might be helpful to link in with others for support, for example through a local Job Club. Your shared experience can foster a sense of connection.

Add purpose to your day

Days can feel long without the structure of education or employment. Try to stick to a regular routine. Set yourself goals for each day. Plan time to engage in job searching activities and practical things such as updating your CV.  It may be the time to understand more about how you would like to work in future.

The youth information website Spun Out have developed hundreds of information sheets about employment and education. You can use this compass tool to help navigate to the information that will be most helpful in your job search.

Paid employment may not be accessible immediately. This can create some space and time to cultivate interests and do things that are meaningful to you.  Make sure you plan time for rest and relaxation too. Try to keep a balance in the types of activities you do throughout the day.

Read more from Citizens information on how to find and get a job here.

Financial worries

Financial worries can often accompany periods of unemployment. While our natural instinct might be to bury our heads in the sand, this won’t resolve the problem, and can sometimes make things worse.

The Money Advice and Budgeting Service (MABS) offer free and confidential advice online and over the phone.

Citizens Information also provide a range of information about benefits and entitlements.

Self-care

Your wellbeing is so important at this time. We know you keep hearing this, but it’s because it’s true! Try to get into good self-care habits that you can keep up when you return to work. This includes:

It’s a really tough time, but try to be patient and kind to yourself. Stay positive and look forward to the day when you are back in work.

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