I have a box of comic strips I’ve collected over the years that make me laugh. One strip dates back to the last time I was unemployed. The recently laid off hero of the strip is shown typing at his home computer in the first panel looking fresh and professional, thinking “Scan all recent job postings…” That panel is labeled First Week. The second panel is Fifth Week. He has traded the dress shirt for a T-shirt, his face is stubbly and he stares at the newspaper pondering “Which sounds cooler, CIO or COO?” By the third panel, Week Eleven, still stubbly, he’s kicked back on the sofa, in the same rumpled T-shirt, hair looking shaggy, eating potato chips and thinking “Oh, what would Mayberry do without you Andy?” as the TV blares in front of him.
Does this sound familiar?
When we’re punching the proverbial time clock, there’s always someone or something keeping us accountable for staying on task, whether it’s a client calling, another widget coming your way down the conveyor belt, or the reminder that your review is coming up. Too often when we lose our jobs we find ourselves alone at home with no structure, no set schedule and no one to say, “Is that resume ready yet?” or “Did you research your list of target companies today?” It’s easy to succumb to the siren song of that big box in the kitchen that lights up when you opens its door and hums appreciatively afterwards, or that wicked temptress of the internet known as Hulu (Did you know they have 58 full episodes of Project Runway – FREE?).
Without accountability, it’s easy to get sloppy and waste time as you lose focus on your job search. Being a part of LA Fellows is a great way to get back on track and keep your eyes on what’s going to move your search forward. Having those 3-4 days per week where you have to get dressed in your work attire (most cohorts agree that PJ’s and bunny slippers are not acceptable), be on time and be engaged really helps to put you back in the headspace of being a professional with a mission.
Moving on when those classes are over is easier too. There are classmates who are willing to check in once a week for coffee and an accountability meeting: we’ll practice interview questions, go over updated resumes (we’re still working on out non-profit internships --- brand new bullet points to add!), update each other on progress, and brainstorm on how to get over the snags we may hit along the way. You can reach out to other jobseekers too, whether from other cohorts, job clubs at LAVC or the Work Source centers, or if there was a layoff at your last job you can reach out to former coworkers and help each other through this new adventure of unemployment. As long as you don’t let it devolve into a “woe is me” whine fest or gripe session, and you focus on the goal, accountability sessions are a wonderful tool.
For Cohort 7 there are weekly accountability emails to our caseworkers at EDD, CC’d to Allison and Keri at LA Fellows describing our job search activities and what we’re doing to work the program and move forward. Even if you never join LA Fellows, keeping your caseworker informed can be a great practice. They have resources you may not know of or have access to on your own. If you don’t have a caseworker, make a pact with an unemployed friend to exchange an email at a set time every week. The act of writing it alone helps. Even if you’re not going to ‘fess up to the Mayberry marathon in print, you’ll think about it and be more averse to taking on that guilt the next week.
LA Fellows Cohort 7