I’m not going to lie, there were times during the past four months of my job search, where I wondered what the heck I was thinking, leaving the security of a full-time permanent job, even if I did hate it. The same agencies who had rolled their eyes when I told them I had a three-month notice period when I was employed, now looked down their noses at me:
You left? Without a job to go to? You’ll have to explain that to any potential employers.
It’s a difficult market at the moment. That was a brave decision.
They didn’t say as much, but the intonation was there – you’re bonkers!
Thankfully they were wrong on a number of counts. For one, most potential employers thought I was really courageous for having the guts to resign from a job I wasn’t happy in. They also found it refreshing that I came with, well, no notice period at all – after all how many companies are good at timely recruitment? Oh, and now I have a job, which, on paper at least, is much better than my last one. Result, oui?
That’s not to say I would recommend handing your notice in without having a new job lined up. The recruitment agencies aren’t wrong – it is tough out there. If you’re thinking of ditching the day job it’s not something you should enter into lightly. With the experience of hindsight, here’s my advice to anyone thinking of jacking it all in…
Make sure you have enough ‘rainy day’ savings
Most of my mine had been blown on a big white frock, plus matching accessories, so I was really fortunate that Mr Love of my Life took his vow of ‘for richer or poorer’ seriously and was able to support me. That said, I wish I’d had a bit more stashed away so I could have made more of a financial contribution to the household. Relying on a man to pay for things feels kinda Stepford Wives to me. And, while he doesn’t mind, I’m keen to repay the money as quickly as possible.
You’ll feel like your life is ‘on hold’
Even if you’ve got savings behind you, if you don’t know when you’ll be earning next, you’re unlikely to want to blow them. So forget about buying new clothes or shoes. Treating yourself to meals out, spa days and everything else you take for granted when you’re picking up a decent salary. Get used to saying: “That sounds fabulous, we will have to do it when I’ve got a job.” Also be prepared to have to say no to a few invites from friends – the good ones will understand and pop around yours for a cost-effective cuppa instead.
Silver lining: It does make you realise how much money you spend on pointless stuff (er, designer coffee in my instance). I’m hoping this *lightbulb* moment will mean I spend a whole lot less now I’m earning.
Cancel any unnecessary contracts
Another good way to try to cut your expenditure in the short-term. I put my Contact Lenses by Post service on hold and also cancelled my subscription to Love Film.
Claim the benefits you’re entitled to
Use the benefits checker to see what you could receive and don’t be ashamed. If you’ve been working – you’ve paid into the system – now it’s your time to get some back! Although if you’re a professional and you have to sign on, expect to feel confused, rather than inspired following your trips to the Job Centre. Bless ’em.
Getting a new job takes time and it is tough!
You’ll need to be thick-skinned and determined. Companies have all the power now and can take their pick of potential job-seekers. Don’t take rejection to heart and get feedback to find out why you weren’t succesful. Be prepared to spend hours scouring the internet, newspapers – anywhere – for jobs.
I’ve been working as an admin temp for the past six weeks. The pay isn’t great, but it’s easy work, pays more than I would get on benefits, keeps my brain active and gives me experience of working within a new sector (education). Temping is also ideal if you’re attending lots of interviews – need to take a day off? You can – without having to fake a mysterious doctors appointment which takes all day (Er, yes – that’s right they wanted to check my whole body, and I only went in to get my ears syringed)!
Be prepared for lots of housework
Being unemployed highlighted to me that I would make a rubbish housewife! But you can hardly sit on your arse all day whilst your other half is at work, can you? I’m so much happier now I’m working and we’re sharing the chores again – I don’t even mind doing a little bit more – but doing it all, for me at least, was soul-destroying!
Enjoy the freedom
One of the lovely parts of not having a regular nine-to-five has been the amount of freedom it has given me. I’ve been able to meet up with my Yummy Mummy friends during the day for coffee. I could avoid the busy weekends and do my Christmas shopping during the week. I was always available to wait in for parcels. Small things, but not to be over-looked.
Compromise, but not too much
The dream job with the higher salary might not be out there at the moment. You might have to take a salary cut, a side-ways move, or travel further to your place of work. Be clear on what you’re prepared to compromise on and if you think a company is taking the mick – don’t be afraid to walk away. I did.
Be prepared for people who think you’re on holiday.
When I told some people I couldn’t see them at a certain time because I was signing on, job-hunting, or attending an interview they looked mightily confused. It was as if they were thinking ‘but you don’t work, shuffle those things around and see me”. Don’t be afraid to stick to your schedule.
Be prepared for tears
As well as supporting me financially, Mr Love of my Life has also supported me emotionally. It’s amazing how much your career defines who you are and when it’s not there, well – who the heck are you? Whether it’s your lover, your mother or your sister-from-another-mister – you’ll need someone on hand to give you a pep-talk, or a shoulder to cry in those moments of doubt, rejection and down-right blah-ness.
Take the time to think about what it is you really want
It’s easy to lose track when you’re attending meeting after meeting and replying to a plethora of urgent emails, but away from all that – how do you want life to be. Start imagining and it might just start taking shape.
Shop around and request free samples
You still need to buy some stuff, so make the most of the extra time you have and check out various sites for discounts and freebies.
Sometimes you’ve just got to make the most of the situation. You can sit in your PJs until 2pm, watching SATC box-sets and reading glossy mags and your Bloglovin’ feed – so indulge yourself and do it! So long as it’s only occasionally it’s OK. Nobody likes a martyr!
Are you thinking of taking the brave step and ditching your job? If so, good luck!