Shortly thereafter, I was busy with paperwork on the transfer of ownership of my parents’ house to my mum, pension-related matters and closure of bank accounts. The first month went well, with me staying at home, but neighbours thought I was simply taking a longer break.
We took a 4-day short trip to neighbouring country to relax, as promised to my mum during the days when we were shuttling between home and hospital visits. Soon, 1 month turned into 2 months. The second month I was still taking my time in terms of job applications. I was still choosing what job I want, the salary package, the type of work, and where the company was based in. I was even applying to overseas roles as I was very keen to work in China. Naturally, I applied to a few Chinese-based roles with MNCs (Chinese-owned companies are terrible).
When it comes to my third month of unemployment, there was a sudden dip in jobs that I can apply. It was the dreaded “dry” season. I thought March and April were the hot hiring season, and by May I would have completed many rounds of interviews. In actual fact, I only went for 1 interview in April, 2 interviews (one was a specialist role) in May, and 2 interviews (and one was a totally new role from my current career) in June, followed by second-round in early July and a job offer the next day.
I faced many rejection emails which I was used to it, and saw many roles that was advertised at the beginning of the year (or since last December), before it closed and re-opened again. I am guessing there is a possibility that these companies have internal candidates in mind, but they are foreigners, and when they cannot obtain the work permit to work here, these companies re-open the positions for locals.
I remembered the anxiety that arose in May and caused me insomnia every night, and I came up with a daily routine to help alleviate my anxiety. Every morning that I will wake up and sit in front of the computer to job hunt for 1 to 2 hours. Thereafter, I will force myself to complete some tasks. Be it reading, working on an errand or writing a blog, I will make sure to maintain a sense of “productivity”. I also regularly meet up with a counselor to keep my mood positive, which I think it helps during interviews.
Hence, I would like to share some points that I have utilized to retain my sanity and maintain positivity:
- Set up a schedule for each day. Set aside some time for job hunting. Once that is done within the allocated period of time, stop. Move on to other things.
- Think about all the things that you want to do and DO IT. Do not procrastinate. For example, during this period, I know I have a house to renovate, a holiday to plan and to update my blog with new entries. So I set off to recce for furniture, research on décor themes for my house, sat down and research on various attractions to visit and the route to take for my holiday (I do not know if I can make it but I will try), and to jot down 2 entries about my holidays and experiences for the past few months.
- Seek a counselor or a friend to talk to. Through online methods, I found a mental wellness workshop to attend for free last year. From there, I learnt tips to keep depression at bay and maintain positivity. I also jotted down free resources available. One of the free resources I got was a newly-formed counseling group for women and depression-related problems. I got into contact with the association and waited. After 2 months, they got back to me, and I got in contact with a counselor. When I was employed, she helped me when I was having a lot of frustration at work and home. Thereafter, she provided me with an outlet during my unemployment to express my frustration.
- Engage in free or low cost entertainment. I will travel to my neighbouring country which is three times cheaper for simple pleasures like watching movies, having a meal. Of course, you need to be able to travel on your own (since most of your friends are working). Otherwise, I will sometimes dedicate 2 days out of a week to leave the house and go out. I will condense all my activities and errands in one day to maintain that sense of productivity, and to keep my mind off job hunting. It also helps me to work off the excess stress and tire my body for a better night’s sleep.
- Take on short temping assignments. Because I have been unemployed for short stints a couple of times, I have gradually built up some (very small fee) assignments that are flexible in timing. I generally avoid longer term temping assignments because in my country, they are usually outsourced to recruitment agencies for manpower handling and salary payment. However, there is often a commitment period, or else, you need to pay a penalty fee. I do not like to lose the flexibility to go for interviews as and when companies call, hence I generally stick to events role (1 –day event helper). They are also generally quite interesting and in industries that I will never ever be exposed to in my day job.
For example, I worked on events witnessing hundreds of couples celebrating their 50th or more wedding anniversaries, and participated in a 3-day navy trade exhibition and saw how negotiations were done between militaries/government defence-related agencies and state-owned companies on requirements of military shipbuilding and costs. It was an eye-opener for me, besides getting paid for it. I love government/commercial exhibitions that are not open to public because the delegates and visitors are matured and not pesky like the general public.
I hope this helps to encourage those who are still job-hunting to continue to push on. Sometimes, hope is just around the corner when it seems the darkest and bleakest. But please always have faith that when you are at your bottom, the only way is to go up.