"Is Unemployment Killing Your Self-Concept?" by John Manni, Psychologist
June 14, 2011 by John Manni & Doug Barton
As a psychologist, I present workshops focused on psychological strategies to help unemployed participants stay positive, motivated, and focused while searching for another job. Recently, a participant pointed out that she had used volunteering to get her out of the house and enrich her life during her child rearing years. After returning to work, she became too busy to volunteer. Like many others today, she found herself out of work and spending countless hours seeking new employment. Eventually, she found it more and more difficult to stay motivated. She found she was becoming less energetic and was just going through the motions of looking for work.
It struck her that returning to volunteering would get her out of the house and help her feel more positive about her life. She shared her experience with the group and even talked another member into joining her work at a food bank. To my surprise, more and more participants started to volunteer in a variety of settings. All reported feeling an improved sense of self-worth and more motivated to engage in job search activities. One participant pointed out that she was being taught new software skills while volunteering. (Something that would have benefited her in her previous job.)
In good times, volunteering is seen as an altruistic endeavor. For an unemployed person volunteering remains a way to help others, but it can also help them help themselves. It also looks good on your resume. It shows perspective employers that you have a cooperative, sociable nature, and are willing to give generously of yourself to support a greater cause.