So last October, for the first time in my life, I lost my job.  Scary thing, no doubt, but it happens.  The flood of normal emotions (or at least, so I’m told) washed over me, but I was determined to turn it into a positive.  While I’ve been without work for a few months now, it feels like I’ve never been busier.

I think I’m the kind of person who’s not wired to be inert.  I can’t stand not doing something.  So I’ve taken the opportunity – if you can call it that – to keep myself as busy as possible.

Searching for a job

Obviously, this is the number one thing I do with my day.  That’s not just because I have a family to support, but also I can’t stand not being productive.  Yes, this may make me the kind of person who will one day retire and then start a whole new career because I can’t wake up without a purpose for the day, but so be it.  I’m confident that I’ll land with a great company soon.  As someone with a broad range of experience and talents, I’m keeping my options open and exploring companies and jobs that truly excite me.  Right now my search is focused in media production, social media, web, and content marketing, as I feel those are my biggest passions and strengths.  I am also keeping an eye toward graphic design, IT or broadcast as opportunities arise that gel with my capabilities.

During the time I’ve been off, I’m been working with an amazing career transition service, and they’ve been a tremendous help in my job search.  I don’t think you really know how bad your resume looks until you get one done right.  They’ve also proven themselves to be a valuable resource and partner to help me market myself more effectively than I could on my own.

Throughout the job search, there have been ups and downs.  I’ve been on interviews that, while they may not have resulted in a job offer, were fantastic opportunities to learn about great companies right here in my backyard.  I’ve had a number of amazing conversations with real movers and shakers here in our community, and I’ve learned new nuggets of wisdom from each one.

Learning new things

I’m a curious soul.  I love learning new things, whether it’s through an intensive course of study or just picking up things by immersing myself in them.  I’ve taken some time during my job search to do some training on new skills and concepts.  These are things that I may not have had the chance to pick up or use during my career, but that can round out potential gaps in my experience that might make me more valuable to a future employer.

I started off taking a couple courses at Fox Valley Technical College.  I attended a two-day training seminar on Adobe Illustrator.  I’ve been a Photoshop user for the better part of a decade, but I’ve always wanted to get more experience with other parts of Adobe’s Creative Suite.  I also took an online course on social media for business, and that opened up new worlds to me in how I think about communicating online.

Recently I also discovered a great site called  I think of it as a Netflix for video training.  It’s an “all you can eat” site packed full of in-depth training on software packages, skills and other great stuff.  I’ve been working my way further through Creative Suite there, and I can go at my own pace.  I’ve also worked through some SEO and photography courses there as well.  My Lynda playlist is packed full of other tools I’m anxious to learn.

Over the holidays, I also completed the Inbound Marketing Certification at Hubspot.  I would encourage anyone who’s going into similar fields as me to go through this.  It’s a free, nine-session video training course with study materials and helpful instructors to guide you through the process.  Not only has this experience made me think about online marketing in an exciting new way, but it has also made me think about how I market my own side projects like photography.  It may also help in my job search, as more HubSpot partners enter the Northeast Wisconsin region.

Staying creative

Losing a job is hard, and it’s all too easy to get tunnel vision.  While it’s been important to me to treat my job search as my full-time endeavor, I’ve also carved out time to maintain my creative pursuits.  My hobbies and side interests have always been a vital way to reduce stress and keep my creative batteries charged, and this period of my life is no time to put those things on the back burner.

My biggest creative outlet in the last couple years has been my fine art photography.  While I’m not bounding out every other day on a photo excursion, I’ve made it a point to go out for a couple hours once a month and shoot.  Taking photos and working on my artistic treatments to them helps burn off stress and keep me focused.  It also keeps me connected to people who follow my work online, as well as a robust community of local photographers.

Spending time with my family

We still send my two year old daughter to daycare during the day, so I can maintain a regular routine of job searching during the week.  But during the recent holiday season, my wife took a couple weeks off work and we kept our kid home with us.  It was truly special to me to have that time to spend with my family.  We also got to travel to visit with our respective families.

I love Christmas.  It’s my absolute favorite time of year, and it could have been a really depressing time being without a job.  But having the opportunity to spend more time with my family was truly special to me.  Ultimately, I still would have preferred to be gainfully employed, but this one unusual confluence of events was the battery charge for the soul that I really needed.

So what now?

At the end of the day, my focus is still finding a terrific new job and putting all my skills and abilities to work for a great local company.  Together with the support of my friends and family, keeping a positive attitude has kept me going all this time.  Seeing a job loss not as a tragedy but an opportunity has made all the difference.

The prospects are bright, even if the road is long.  I’m meeting lots of fantastic people, finding lots of amazing opportunities, and plugging away every day.  I’m confident I’ll land on my feet and do what I’m meant to be doing very soon.
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