5 Traits You’ll Need to Survive in a World That Thinks 'Unemployed' Means 'Unworthy' (Spoiler Alert: It Doesn’t)

Michaela Alexis, Medium
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It's funny how the words "fired," "unemployed," or "laid off" are taboo enough to make people squirm.

Even today, six months after landing my dream job, when I mention that I was recently laid off, people smile nervously and their eyes dart around the room, like I just declared that I am the president of a Nickleback fan club. Yes, I meant to admit out loud that I've failed. No, there's no Bailey's in this flat white.

We've really effed things up for job seekers, haven't we?

We calculate capability with pre-populated keywords and/or gaps in a resume, and regard job seekers as flighty or broken. The hardest part of being a job seeker now isn't the interviewing process or updating your resume. It's the emotional exhaustion that you have to endure. It's retaining your identity and confidence in the face of constant rejection, frustration, and social bias.

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We need to stop telling you to look outwards for a sign, to wait for somebody to see your value or hope for good things to come. The truth took me thirty years and countless mistakes to find, but here it is.

The most important work you will ever do for yourself starts right now. Hold your heart. Use that beat as momentum. The life that you've always wanted and needed begins from the inside out. I know how Disney-esque that sounds, but it's the most important truth I can offer you.

Here are five traits that you can work on that will not just serve you during your job search, but far beyond.

1. Vulnerability

After being laid off, before I realized that it was better to be a warrior than a human burrito!

Lately, I've been hosting LinkedIn share-a-thons, where I share job seekers updates to my 26,000+ person network. The job seeker needs to describe their dream career, share their strengths, and I encourage them to share a photo that captures their personality.

That one act of vulnerability will drastically change my connections' job search, as it did for me. Once I hit publish six months ago and realized that I didn't collapse of embarrassment, vulnerability became exhilarating. I felt empowered, I took back control. I started to unmask myself.

Vulnerability is strength, power, and courage. It's magnetic, it's your superpower. If you want to land that career, tell the world. Don't give into the stigma, ask for help from your community.

Michaela Alexis

Scott Stratten sent me a box filled with boxes after I told him that I was laid off. He was a stranger, and I hadn't even told my family or friends yet. My life changed in ONE private message, one minute of boldness.

My recent podcast episode? It happened because I reached out to the host.

Writing for Karen Salmansohn? It happened because I sent her a private message.

If you want something that you've never had, you're going to have to try things you've never done.

2. Purpose

You need to believe in something bigger than yourself, outside of your personal bubble.

No matter where you are in your life, you always have something to give, even if a smile or warm hello is all that you can muster. Volunteer however you can, it will grant you a wider view of the world.

I discovered my purpose by reflecting on my childhood. I was always either a) writing b) taking care of others or c) crying. I cried a LOT. Anyways, I combined my passion for writing, my sensitive spirit, and my love of caring for others, and creating this Linkedinpresence that energized me throughout my job search, and fulfills me to this day!

3. Perserverance

Yes, I get loads of negative comments. No, that will never stop me from writing!

Perseverance means consistently showing up. It means putting in the time and effort to move forwards even when you desperately want to throw up your hands and go back to your duvet cocoon.

Perseverance means embracing rejection, pain, and failure, because you know that the stumbling blocks ahead are going to make you stronger and wiser.

Perseverance is one of the most important traits you'll need throughout your job search, and in life.

4. Balance

The more balance that you can create in your life, the happier you'll ultimately be.

Before I lost my job, I was one of those people that glorified the "hustle". I was "making it" because I was one of those people that existed off of coffee and worked around the clock, even though I was more miserable than I had ever been.

I began morning yoga and meditation after I was laid off to pass the time. It quickly became more of a lifestyle than a task on my to-do list. Yoga and meditation gave me the clarity that I needed to focus on my purpose, which was writing and helping others. Focusing on my purpose made me more fulfilled, and helped me feed my confidence and optimism. My confidence and optimism were why I landed a new career in two weeks and turned down four job offers in the process.

Since I discovered the benefits of balance, it's become a necessity, not an option. Spend some time away from your job search, and you'll be surprised at how quickly balance will rewire your mind.

Michaela Alexis

5. Confidence

Maintaining your confidence is now your full-time career during your job search. It is your most treasured trait, and the hardest to preserve under such stressful circumstances.

However, confidence is a choice. Confidence means admitting that you are hurt, frustrated, lonely, or afraid, and confronting your pain like the warrior you are. Confidence means practicing affirmations, taking risks, trusting your capabilities, and getting fired up about all of the growth and possibility ahead, regardless of how crappy that last interview went, or how you didn't get a callback.

Hold your heart again. I won't tell you that your job search is going to be easy, because it won't be. But I will tell you that your worth does not depend on your status, title, or bank balance. You are capable, worthy, and ready. And as long as your heart is beating, you have everything you need to make it happen, my friend.

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Laid off at 48, he rebounded by making $300,000 miniature race tracks