COVID-19 really put a spanner in a lot of our plans for 2020, especially any ideas some of us had for working throughout the year in our full-time jobs and making that sweet cash money. Losing your job in the middle of a global pandemic is not a great time, but what’s even harder is the slog it takes to eventually find employment again.
Unless you’re my best friend who received two job offers just one day after being fired, chances are you probably experienced a patch of unemployment in 2020. According to the latest batch of figures, youth unemployment is currently at 14.3% for those aged 15 to 24.
Introducing me, who went through six entire months of looking for work. During that time I was turned down from everywhere, including goddamn JB Hi-Fi for being over-qualified.
It got to the point where my passions no longer mattered in the search for a job, I just wanted ANYONE to hire me. But I came to realise that this is the wrong approach when it comes to job hunting. Clearly, after some time, things got way better, because you’re reading this right now and I am an employed boy.
However, dealing with the jump from six months of unemployment to five days a week of full-time employment is actually a lot more of a mental whiplash than you’d probably expect.
I’m talking going from reading all day and taking leisurely walks in the sun while you check emails for job application feedback, to having your entire days taken up by your new job. It’s a strange transition from “I have nothing to do, ever” to suddenly having responsibilities and a sense of purpose.
It may be strange to insinuate that as humans we get our sense of purpose on this Earth through labour, but we kinda do. Working gives us something to do, and also helps us feel as if we are contributing to society in some way. Every job is completely valid, so experiencing unemployment when this is all you’ve grown up to know makes you feel like you’re no longer a person of any worth.
That’s at least how I felt, everyone is different of course, but here’s how I dealt with the wild transition. It goes without saying, I am definitely no professional, but I am talking from experience.
First off, you need to start planning your days more. Back in the days of having nothing to do, you could exercise, cook, clean and go for drives at any time you pleased. When you start working, you’ll need to set a time for when you’ll be going for your run, or for when you’ll be cooking that meal.
You may feel like you’re cramming heaps into one day, but slowly you start to realise how much time you actually have to utilise outside of your 9-5.
Next, the early morning starts. Most jobs will require it, but when you don’t have a job, you can sleep as long as you’d like. Say goodbye to those late nights playing Animal Crossing, you’ve gotta start hitting the snooze much earlier so you can get in some good sleep. I can’t say I’ve fully optimised this one, but hey it’s good to at least try.
The third thing is to be ready for is the pressure of hitting up full-time work. COVID-19 has just made you scarily aware of how expendable you are as an employee, but its important to put trust in your new workplace. They’ve hired you for a reason, and you can both thrive with the help from each other.
Constantly being on edge about your position and fearing the return to unemployment is normal, but it only becomes a problem when it gets in the way of your actual work. Learn to become trusting of your new environment, and you’ll begin to feel safe. You are worth so much, and it is important to remember that.
Lastly, when looking for work, please try and aim for the highest heights. All those jobs you never thought you’d be able to do? Apply for them. Get your resume looking spick and span, and take your shot.
Not to sound like a pretentious cliché, but you really do miss every shot you don’t take.
And that’s how I dealt with the wild transition from having nothing to do for half a year to being a happy little full-time employee.
If you are struggling with unemployment, which can often take a toll on your mental health, it is important to speak to a professional or seek help.
If you would like to talk to someone about mental health, please call the Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 (ages 5 to 25) or BeyondBlue on 1300 22 4636. If you are in crisis, you can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.Image: Getty Images / Maskot