I'm not technically unemployed... I just have no work. There's a difference...
This is a blog post I've thought about writing for a couple of weeks, as so many of my friends are going through extended periods of unemployment, under-employment, or "being made redundant." Isn't that a great term? Being told that you're now "redundant." Great way to add insult to injury, don't you think?
On the one hand, I like to [try to] keep a positive public face about my current situation, be optimistic about future opportunities, and not look like I'm seeking sympathy, but in the end, I've decided it's more important to let my "redundant" friends know that they're not alone.
So, no, technically I'm not unemployed, as I'm a self-employed consultant ... I just haven't had anyone to consult to since April 1, and my only income for the last three months has been $22.82 in book royalties. Being self-employed means that when the work dries up, there's no unemployment benefits or severance packages, just the search for the next gig.
Part of being independent is that there's ups and downs. The last several long-term gigs have come one on top of the other, even over-lapping major assignments. A "high quality problem," as Tom G. would say. But since April 1, there's been a disconcerting silence from my usual sources of leads, and very little I've been able to dig out on my own.
I've been searching for irons and fires and trying to put them together, but I can see I may have a significant bit of down-time before the next long-term assignment. In six and-a-half years of being in business for myself, this is the most difficult time I've had. Of course, considering the economy, I suppose three months of downtime after a 6-1/2 year stretch isn't all that bad.
That said, overall, I again count my blessings and say "high quality problem," but that doesn't make it any easier. Especially when it's summer, and my wife (a teacher) is also without paycheck for a couple of months, and we've got contractors bidding on re-doing our bathroom and other repair work.
So, I keep in touch with colleagues and let them know I'm available, I read the job listings to see if there's anything to tempt away from my independent practice back into "a real job," and I've started another book project of some nonprofit case studies from my last several long-term consulting gigs.
All-in-all, I've been keeping myself busy, and I plan on enjoying the summer, even if I have to do it on a lower budget than I might prefer.
So, for those of you who are redundant, I share your pain. Even though we all know "it's the economy, stupid," it's hard not to take some of it as a personal failing in moments of weakness. But we just have to push past that, keep ourselves occupied, and look for that next great opportunity. It's out there somewhere. It has to be.