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Losing a job is the single most negative event a person can experience

While we’re hearing that jobs are being created around the country, some people still find themselves out of work, writes Eoghan McDermott.

Eoghan McDermott

A WEEK AGO, a friend of mine lost his job. He’d worked with his former employer for ten years. Before Christmas, I worked with 60 or so bankers who this year are going to be made redundant.

Many of them have worked in it for the best part of their careers and view themselves as a “banker”.

However, they didn’t see much chance of working in financial services again. And those based outside of Dublin, felt that the Celtic Phoenix is caged within the Pale. They were anxious, unsure of their futures, and frightened.

A giant longitudinal study in Germany looking at the impact of life events across a huge chunk of population and ongoing for 20 years (at least), found that losing a job is the single most negative event a person can experience. The study found that not only does losing a job upset people and their families at the time, but that it causes lasting damage.

While it’s easy for other people to say “nobody died,” the reality is that, for the person who has lost the job, the experience is remarkably close to a bereavement, especially if their identity is tightly wound up with their responsibilities, title and prestige in that job.

Ireland is one of the most difficult job markets in Europe.

While we’re hearing that jobs are being created around the country, some people still find themselves out of work.

A study conducted by careers website Glassdoor rated Ireland as one of the toughest countries to get a job. According to the study, which analysed labour-market conditions in 16 European countries across eight areas including unemployment rates and the numbers in temporary or part-time roles,

Ireland is ranked 12th out of 16 countries, making it one of the most difficult job markets in Europe.

And many people don’t know what to do to find a job or how to do it.

Job seeking is a full time project, you’re not between jobs. 

There’s no silver bullet. The first piece of advice I tend to give people is to regard job seeking as a full time project. They’re not between jobs. They’re completely engaged in a vital task. It might take six days, six weeks, six months, but for that period of time, they are fully employed in self-marketing.

In this marketing project they’re going to be selling a once-off unique product, rather than something coming off an assembly line. We’re not talking yellow-pack here, we’re talking about a fascinating individual about whom they have huge understanding and knowledge.

Managing time becomes vital when people are out of work and searching for a job. Time should be spent systematically on the tasks that, properly completed, will guarantee them the job. The day should be broken down and a timetable of activities developed.

They should plan how much time they plan to spend on each of a number of tasks, which include research, preparation of cover letters and CVs and meeting people in their network. Meeting people within a network is hugely valuable. Often jobs are passed put out into a network as opposed to putting an ad in the papers, online or going to a recruitment agency.

It’s also important for someone not to view themselves as a “role” but rather as someone who has a whole set of skills developed. For example, the bankers mentioned above, struggled to see what other job they could do. It was crucial for them to begin to identify the transferable skills that they had developed through their careers, for example, customer care, teamwork and communication skills.

That allowed them to think of roles away from what they were doing, but where there was more opportunity; one of them is now working a manager with a charity.

I don’t mean to rain on the daily parade of jobs announcements, or action plans for jobs. They’re wonderful, and welcome. However, it’s important to remember that there are people out there who are looking for work, who aren’t clear on what they have to offer, and who don’t know how to market it best.

Eoghan McDermott is a Director of The Communications Clinic and is Head of Training and Careers there. He is author of The Career Doctor. You can follow him on Twitter @EoghanMcDermott.

Read: Looks shouldn’t matter, but they do. Especially when you’re applying for a job>

Read: ‘Can you teach an old dog new tricks? You can, but not by week two of a new year’>

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