I was made redundant in December and have just found out I am pregnant. I have never been unemployed before and feel completely out of my depth. How should I handle this in job searching?
Aside from the practical advice on how to deal with your pregnancy with potential job applications and interviews, I can offer some advice on how to deal with this from an emotional point of view.
You say that you ‘feel completely out of your depth’ and have ‘never been unemployed and have had a professional career all my life’. It sounds like your identity is wrapped up in your work persona – what you do for money.
This might be a good opportunity to focus on, and start to value, the other roles that you play in your life, apart from your professional self. This will help to maintain your self-confidence in whatever it is that you do in the coming year – whether it’s full/part-time or contract work, or no work at all. It will also be a good time to focus on those things that are really important to you – what is at your core – and to construct a life for yourself that includes more of those things, whether through work or otherwise.
Firstly, think about what it is that work gives you that you really like. Does it give you confidence, control, responsibility, recognition? Do you simply love being busy – or having a project? Do you love being part of a team? Having a sense of achievement? How do you feel that work identifies who you are? Do you like to be seen as intelligent, powerful, smart, ambitious? If you are not going to be able to work in the way you are used to, what can you do to give you those feelings? Be as broad and creative as possible in thinking of alternative ways to meet those needs.
Could you consider doing volunteer work, re-training, going through your existing financial situation and working out ways to save money if you aren’t able to earn for a while? You don’t need to lower your expectations about what you can do, just change them.
Think too about what is really important to you. If it’s family – focus on what you can do to spend more time with them. If it’s your health – devote this time to focusing on becoming healthier. If it’s growth – work out ways you can learn new things during this time.
Most importantly, remember that there are many aspects of a truly fulfilling life. We need to ensure that our life is balanced so as to meet the needs of all those aspects: family, friends, health, career, fun, spirituality, wealth, contribution. Just because you may not be working in the career that you have pursued up until now does not mean that you have lost your identity. Career is just one aspect of a truly fulfilling life.
Life is full of surprises and unexpected challenges. It is how we deal with these that makes us stronger (sorry to sounds clichéd). Remember that this is just a phase. It may be the end of your ‘professional career’ phase for a while, but it could be the start of a very different, amazing phase in which you and your family will thrive. These circumstances may take you down an avenue you hadn’t considered journeying down, but who knows, you may love the destination!