Confessions of the unemployed, or 10 rules for starting a new life in Baku (or anywhere else)

I was unemployed for 9 months for the first time in my life — since the completion of the First European Games and its sumptuous celebration, during which it was promised that no one would stay unemployed and everyone would be given a place at the upcoming sporting events. Hearing that, we made an assumption that Formula-1 fitted the definition of the “sporting event” and prepared ourselves to wait. Here, we made one big mistake that people generally are inclined to make — as my boss used to say: “№ 1 rule: No assumptions!” The dreams went up in smoke, when we realized that there was no plan to consider us for Formula-1. Now, here I am inclined to think this was because the former BEGOC staff was so well professionally prepared in the course of the First European Games, that it was so hard to choose among us, and therefore those recruiting for Formula decided to choose the easiest way and instead recruit the team of people who have never been involved in any sports events management before. Except for some miserable amount of people from the once big professional team. “Connections”, — used to say my same boss, smiling meaningfully.

But alright, God bless this Formula. What cannot be cured must be endured. Our hope for the upcoming sporting event was still with us — this time for the Islamic Games.

In the meanwhile, the time went by and an urge to live was still there. The urge to work increases dramatically especially if you owe to the bank 800 USD on a monthly basis.

Here, I need to say I was lucky enough to have a choleric combined with sanguine type of personality, and have no inclination towards phlegmatic or melancholic type. I never gave up and, moreover, have worked out the set of rules and actions to cope with this situation.

  1. There will be times when you will be overwhelmed with the feeling of fear — which might be showing up as a panic attack, sometimes as inability to make a breath, and sometimes as hysteria. What you need to do is let this fear out. Don’t keep it to yourself. Bring up your fear right in front of you, imagine the worst thing that can happen if you don’t have money or don’t find a job in the closest 1, 5, 10, 30 days. Work out your fear up to the most critical edge, go till the end, think of the worst things that could ever happen. In my example, it looked like the following: if I don’t find a job, I will have no money to pay my mortgage. If I don’t pay my mortgage, the bank will be calling me and I will have to confess I am bankrupt — to be honest, this was one of the most unwanted things for me to even imagine, but to my surprise it worked out better than I was thinking of it. What’s next? — I deepened the issue in my mind. Probably, I will need to sell my house. Period. I had reached the point of the worst case scenario, which in my case was that I would lose my apartment. It was sad, but I realized I could live with it. The bright thing was that I would become debt-free which was absolutely wonderful on its own.

Facing your fears is the most important thing you need to do at this stage. As a result you will acquire mental power and confidence in your abilities to cope with difficult situations. Practice this every time you feel that fear is taking control of your emotions, and you will soon notice you are taking everything in a much more relaxed way. When you are not afraid you are not obsessed over anything, which makes you stronger.

  1. Once you have let your fear go, you have accepted the situation. This happens automatically. When you accept the situation you get the ability to think with a clear mind. Next thing you need to do is to think of what you can do to earn some money while you are in a lookout for a job. Think of all possible options — in my case taking into account my proficiency in English, it was continuation of teaching English and Russian to children and adults alike, translations, and online projects.
  2. Get to know your inner self and stop being shy. Many of us do not confess even to themselves that we are shy to declare about ourselves. If you have noticed, earlier I made a statement about my good command of English — some time ago it was difficult for me to make such a statement and declare this. Having known myself, I now can state that I am good at analyzing, efficient in developing, planning and managing of projects, good at presentations and other public speeches, get along with people and understand them well. Don’t be shy to declare about yourselves! Everyone can do something very well, this is without any doubt. Get to know yourselves. Think about yourselves. Get deep inside into yourselves, look for your strengths, admit your talents in front of yourself in the first place. And then, once you admitted your talents, your skills and capabilities, go over your fear and declare your talents to the world. Open up to the world around you. Let the world know about you, communicate, socialize, send reasonable and well-prepared letters to employers, meet people, and tell them what you are capable of doing. Being shy is a fear of its kind. The fear to be unrecognized or renounced. Me myself was very shy while being a child — to a degree that sometimes I could barely say something if called up at a lesson. But I was lucky to have my parents. My mother would on purpose send me somewhere to ask something and witnessing my terrific sufferings would always say: “Jamila, you should only be shy or ashamed if you have done something bad or stolen something from someone. You haven’t done any of this, you are simply going to ask this from him/her. Go, I am waiting for you.” And this feeling of confidence showered by my mother upon me and the sense of responsibility that she was waiting for the answer would help me move forward and do everything what was needed. I still remember the feeling of accomplishment, when I would do what I was asked to, and happily run to my mother afterwards.
  3. Once you have known yourselves, the time has come to update your CV and a LinkedIn profile. Remember, that the optimal size of the CV is 2 pages. Fill in your professional experience during the last 10 years. If you landed your first job 14 years ago as an Office Assistant it is no more interesting to the recruiter. Minimize the list of your duties and responsibilities in the CV, and include your achievements instead. Update your profile in LinkedIn accordingly. Show as much of the professional information as possible, and ask your former employers and colleagues to provide a recommendation for you. I am going to publish another post on how to enhance your CV and LinkedIn profile and will provide more detailed information on this.
  4. As you update your CV and a LinkedIn profile, start developing your own projects at the same time. Consider becoming a freelancer. By this time it should already be clear that you cannot always count on a permanent job, therefore you should secure yourselves by having a side income. Meet with potential clients and prospects, develop your offers, show how you can bring value into every single company you are meeting with, and it will work out. Slowly but steadily you will see the progress.
  5. Start your pages in LinkedIn and Facebook. You might not have 10000 subscribers at once, but don’t give up and continue filling up the page with useful and appropriate information. The information you provide should correspond to the profile of your page. Doing this, you will be able to gain confidence of your page users. You should demonstrate that you possess expertise in the given area and don’t let yourselves down if there is already someone popular in this area. All of us have something unique to offer, and each of us has our own clients.
  6. Set goals — start from developing goals for a year ahead, detail it to a monthly, and, subsequently to a weekly level. Alongside with this, set goals for yourselves for every next day. Do what you have planned to do even if sometimes it may seem there is no sense in what you are doing. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. And, nobody promised that it was going to be easy.
  7. Support yourselves. Cheer yourselves up. Meet with friends. Create a group in whatsapp, imessages, anywhere where you will be able to talk to your friends even when you are so short of money that you can’ even meet to have a cup of tea. We had these moments, and at those tough times our small group in whatsapp supported us a lot. Appreciate your closed ones, and don’t take them for granted.
  8. Nobody can guarantee you that after doing all the above said, you will be able to find permanent job during an hour. But you will get confidence that you will always be able to earn money for your living, doing what you love to do.
  9. And the last point for today, but not the least. Consider getting a degree, vocational training or other professional qualification, if you feel you need it. For instance, you would like to find a job of an internal auditor, you know what the job is about and have some experience, but to qualify and be competitive in the market you need to get a qualification of the Certified Internal Auditor. After some time, I understood that despite my vast experience in project management I would still need a Project Management Professional (PMP) certification and started an online course. I will write a different post about availability of professional qualifications, distance education, and costs involved.

In conclusion, I just want to say once more — don’t give up. I am confident that all the above said actions will charge your mental and spiritual power and will have you move forward. Remember that moving forward is actually the only available way of moving, therefore there are no other options.

P.S. I have translated my original article which was written in Russian for my English-speaking audience. The original article can be found here.