Job Hunting Lessons from Panic in the Year Zero

Yesterday I went to the gym. That, in and of itself, is almost apocalyptic in significance, as I never go to the gym. Nevertheless, I am forcing myself to go, at least for the remainder of my period of unemployment, because I need to feel like I am accomplishing something and because I really do not have any more excuses not to go. We have the membership and I have the time so excuses at this point will ring very hollow (at least until I start getting some interviews).

While I was at the gym, I watched Panic in the Year Zero, a cold war film starring Ray Milland and Frankie Avalon that I have always enjoyed. In the film, Milland and his family are on a fishing trip when most major American cities are subject to a nuclear attack. The family sets up a new home in a cave and, at their first meal, Ray Milland’s character tells the rest of the family that even though civilization has ended, they need to remain civilized, and they will continue to perform all of the indicia of civilization for as long as they can. For example, Ray and Frankie will continue to shave every day, not because they need to shave to survive, but because they need to shave to remember who they are.

For those of us who are still looking for jobs, there is wisdom in Ray’s advice. If you feel like your world is spinning out of control due to financial hardship, or merely financial fears, you need to try to preserve a sense of control by keeping up with your usual daily routines and by incorporating new job-hunting aspects into those routines. Here are a few routines that you should never forget.

Shave Every Day

I suppose not everyone needs to shave but whatever your daily hygiene habits would have been if you were going into a job, keep them up. Treat every day as the day that a job will find you. In order to do that, you have to be ready for opportunities and that usually means that you have to be well groomed. It may seem like you have nothing to lose by skipping a shower but it can become too easy and you will find that you are skipping more and more things. Keep a sense of pride about who you are and always present yourself at your best.

Accomplish Something New Every Day

You may be hitting dead ends with every resume or application that you submit to a prospective employer. Do not dwell on those negatives. Instead focus on the things that you can control. Find a way to put your talents to work or a way to further develop your potential. For example, I write and publish book reviews and I now go to the gym every day. Of course, I also look for as many writing assignments as I can obtain and I generally try to accomplish all of the chores that I need to accomplish at home. Staying busy will help you to feel better about yourself and it will focus you on the things that are within your control.

Don’t Withdraw from your Friends

It can be embarrassing to be out of work. Realize that there is no reason to be ashamed of having lost a job. Unemployment is high in the USA and around the world and our global economy remains in recession. Unemployment is not pleasant, but it is not unusual either. Lots of us are unemployed and you do not need to withdraw from your friends just because you are looking for a job. Talk to your friends – but do not burden them with your problems – just as you would have if you had been employed. If you had a job, we would call this networking. Now that you are unemployed, it is still networking and it is still just as important.

Take a Good Look at Your Wardrobe

You need to look sharp, or at least impressive, in order to land the job you want to land. If you can afford it, now is the time to invest in some clothes that you can wear to interviews. Whether you wear a suit or something else, go find the best outfit to make you stand out from the crowd. Although we are all unique, there are going to be a lot of people just as talented as you (and me) looking to land the same jobs that you want to land.

Treat Every Week Day as a Work Day

Finding a job is a job in and of itself. Make sure you spend seven or eight hours every week day in trying to find a job. Look at job listings. Call your entire address book to get the word out. Network, network, network!

Eat Well and Eat Healthy

Now is not the time to gain 20 pounds. Especially as the US seems to be leaning closer and closer to a health insurance program that does not offer as much care for “self-inflicted conditions” now is the time to be getting into shape. You have the time to eat healthily and to prepare healthy foods so that is what you should be doing. You will look better for it and that will help you to land a job.

What other routines do you think are important? What routines are we likely to lose when we drop out of the work force, regardless of the reason? What routines do you feel are most important in the process of landing a job?

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9 Responses to Job Hunting Lessons from Panic in the Year Zero

  1. Ann says:

    Think positive! See yourself landing the perfect job, but don’t worry about the “how’s” just do the things that you’ve listed and stay positive.

    By the way, David, maybe your perfect job is writing. 😉

  2. persephone says:

    Excellent advice for people with or without jobs!

  3. baselle says:

    Maintain your sleep schedule! Wake up when other people wake up, go to sleep when other people go to sleep. Its a very, very, rare late night infomercial that won’t prey upon your fears

  4. Richby30RetireBy40 Blog says:

    The wardrobe really is key. You want to look like you belong, even if you don’t.

    Otherwise, there’s no better than to explore the world in this economy!



  5. wandaa says:

    Thanks! Great advice.

  6. spicoli says:

    Treating every day like a work day is the most important of all — your new job is finding a job!

  7. sahil says:

    Job hunting is the most difficult task esp. in current scenario. Hope u get it soon. The best part about your article is that it is geniric; u reffered a movie ” Panic in the year zero” to make a correlation with ur existing scenario but i feel its applicable to our day to day life.
    Great article indeed.

  8. Cindy M says:

    Sounds like you’re handling things well. Have to laugh, I watched the same movie recently very early one morning on the “This” channel when I could not sleep and found it interesting.

    I was out of work for one month this year, but it felt like much longer. I’ve always been a second shifter, work from home as a medical transcriber, and I reluctantly left my former company due to the terrible pay cut (continued offshoring to India) and the realization I had to try to find a better company since I’m nowhere near retirement. (Long story short, I did just that and have been with my new smaller company for 2 months now, hoping this one won’t go the same offshoring route anytime soon). I didn’t have to worry so much about looking good for job interviews, that is one plus for being able to work from home; you do phone interviews and test on line. But I studied all the classifieds and would have been prepared to show up looking sharp had I found a transcription/secretarial job locally at a doctor’s office or hospital. I live within walking distance of a hospital but there are so few postings there these days related to what I do.

    Anyway, of course, being out of work was a very stressful time mentally. I had gotten away from taking my hour walk every morning, so I immediately reinstituted that, knowing from experience that physical activity outdoors of any kind is a good thing, rain or shine. I’d then come home and work on sending more resumes out and keeping track of that; it can be very daunting and hard on the ego. You find out quickly that having 30-odd years of experience sure won’t necessarily get you even a sorry-we-can’t-use-you-right-now email response, but it’s a good lesson. I made myself keep a routine schedule daily. I made myself cook great healthy meals. I got back into reading and hitting the library instead of sitting in front of the TV or PC for entertainment. I sought out other transcribers going through the same thing and have met some great people this way, and we do keep in touch and compare notes. I went to bed at a decent hour. I did more with the kinfolk, in particular the grandnephews, and took mom to visit with some relatives she’d not seen in awhile. I can look back now and say it was actually a pretty nice break from the job but really don’t think I want to have to go through that again, though it certainly could happen. I doubt I’ll ever feel secure again in my work.

  9. Gail says:

    I’m out of work due to health, not the economy and where many days it would seem so much simpler to stay huddled in my jammies for the day, unless I’m absolutely not up to it, I get up and get dressed everyday. Even though I’m home, I usually am wearing a skirt and top that matches and even occasionally jewelry. Why? Because I need to keep my self-image up. I have things that I do everyday to feel like I’m contributing to society and to our home. All for the same reasons you described. No matter why your routine gets an abrupt change, get yourself onto an active routine.

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