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Fight Feelings of Failure When You're Jobless

Thank you, Tim Denning

It takes courage to admit that you’re struggling. 

The courage for this post came from Tim Denning’s, “Why My LinkedIn Post Touched 1.2 Million People in 48 Hours.” 

In that honest article, Tim tells about losing his job. He talks about how hard it was to overcome his shame and why he decided to write about it. He says,

We talk about our successes, but we rarely talk about our failures — especially when the act of doing so can negatively impact our future career.
I decided to go against the odds and commit what some would call ‘career suicide.’

It wasn’t “career suicide” at all. 

Turns out, talking about failure is honest and honorable because it’s a universal experience. 

His compassion in reaching out to other people in the same situation made his post go viral, and over a million people read it, many of them telling him they understood. They’d been there. They offered support and kindness, and in many cases, became his loyal fans. 

The purpose of this post is not to go viral, not to try to match what Tim said, but to give myself — and anyone out there like me — a pep talk. 

Because I feel like a failure. 

I’ve been searching for my next job for over two months, and I am still unemployed. 

We’ve probably all been there.

My dream job was as a full-time healthcare company working on a project that helped patients, caretakers, and clients deal with the mental decline of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients. 

Crafting video scripts for experts. Editing. Proofreading. Researching and creating infographics. Working under a fabulous project manager who kept all the different spokes of the wheel turning at the same time. 

It was awesome. Not only was I earning a good living writing, but I was connected to the cause. Who wouldn’t feel think that fighting the cognitive decline that occurs with Alzheimer’s patients was worthwhile? 

Then the bomb dropped. 

Two months in, I got a call. Everyone who had been hired for the project was being let go. The project was suspended, probably forever, because the medical director had dropped out. 


They had loved my work. My project manager depended on me. We were making rapid progress, clicking off each task on the long to-do list, always before the deadline. 

Losing my job unexpectedly when the company was pleased with my work was hard. Really hard.

But what’s far, far harder is not having found a job since then. 

Job hunting is a brutal sport. 

Every morning, I wake up and check out all the new listings on Indeed, LinkedIn, Blogging Pro, Pro Blogger, We Work Remotely, FlexJobs, Media Bistro, Simply Hired, Freelance Writing Jobs, Guru, Zip Recruiter, and Upwork. 

Yep. A lot of job boards exist and I feel like I know all of them. (Hum. Probably another post in the future about which ones offer the most help.) 

What didn’t work.

I craft a customized cover letter for each job. I’m succinct, punchy, clever, artistic, or straight-forward depending on the listing. 

I try to demonstrate that I can do the work. One job I applied for was a “listicle” writer a consumer magazine. 

My approach: A cover letter + a listicle on why they should hire me. (Feel free to use this, but please know that it didn’t work!) 

Eight Ways to Avoid Workplace Stress AND Increase Profits
1) Hire an experienced copywriter and entrepreneur who cares about the clients as if they were her personal friends.
2) Select a qualified candidate who is easy-to-work with and never acts like a Prima Donna.
3) Trust the talent and training of a dedicated freelancer with years of experience.
4) Choose a creative person with a can-do attitude, genuine friendliness, and drive to succeed.
5) Find someone passionate about writing. Someone who loves getting up every day to combine words in weird and wonderful ways. Someone who is fueled with creative fire that fans the flame of commerce.
6) Engage a Jill-of-many-trades who can write blogs, white papers, newsletters, articles, case studies, taglines, website copy, and social media posts.
7) Contract with someone who understands deadlines and has never missed one in thirty years.
8) Pick me.

I’ve sent writing samples, displayed my website, given references. As of this morning, I have applied to 74 listings. Still no job. 

Am I a failure?

Wait. Don’t answer that. 

Here is what I tell myself: 

“I am not a failure. Circumstances beyond my control are at work in the job market.”

  • Job listings are often posted because a company is required to advertise outside the company even though they have a candidate inside that’s been promised the job. The ad may be just a legality.

  • Some job boards compile listings from other sites, so by the time you see them, you might be behind other applicants by several days. You may be way behind since the first resume is received within 200 seconds after a position is posted.

  • The listing may already be filled. The company may have found someone on the first day and withdrawn the ad. 

  • The company may not be able to pay you your rate. Stick to your guns. You offer quality content, not low-level, filler stuff written for pennies. A reputable company will know the value of talented writers and pay them accordingly. 

  • Companies sometimes prefer a “remote” candidate who actually lives within travel distance. Not your fault if it’s listed as a remote job and then they throw in that you’ll be expected to travel to meetings 300 miles away.

  • Response time is slow. Human Resource Managers are extremely busy. Even though you apply to the posting immediately, it may not be reviewed for several weeks. You may not necessarily be out-of-the-running even though you haven’t heard anything. 

  • Landing a job — unless you’re an incredibly lucky soul — is not an instant process. The average time to find a job as a successful job seeker is 10 weeks or 2.5 months, and for 26.7%, it took six months. 

  • Hundreds of other candidates are qualified, too. 250 applications are received for each corporate job opening. Rejection is not a personal affront, even though it may feel like it. 

Here’s the pep talk. 

Being jobless is not a failure. It’s a temporary lull in a career.

Even when we aren’t “working,” we can be moving ahead and taking positive steps toward finding our next job. Riding the Beast: Facing the Fear Between Jobs. 

We can only fail if we stop trying.

The odds are with us. The more we apply, the better our chances of getting those gigs. 

Persistence pays off. 

Feeling like a failure never does. 

When she’s not looking for work, Melissa Gouty spends her time reading and writing and fighting off failure with a pen and a keyboard. Follow her on Medium at Literature Lust, or

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