Why Everybody Should Be Unemployed at Least Once In Their Career


Why Everybody Should Be Unemployed at Least Once In Their Career

5 min read by Chris Rodriguez.

What do I have to lose? I’m already unemployed and there is no way anyone would hire me in the current pandemic situation.

This was an old entry in my journal, which lead me to old drafts of my idea that later became my 100 days of unemployment experiment. It's been almost a year since I finished it and I wanted to take the opportunity to share my learnings.

Short Recap—The Stigma Of Being Unemployed

My intention with this challenge was to remove the stigma of being unemployed. At the height of the pandemic, I had more than 20 friends that lost their jobs due to the pandemic, and all had similar feelings towards it, a sense of shame and hush-hush about talking about it. Even if the pandemic normalized the notion of being unemployed, people didn’t really talk openly about unemployment.

So I saw my opportunity of creating this challenge I come to call the 100 days of unemployment.

During this time I took the opportunity to do things that I wanted to do, things that I had been postponing due to having a job. This included learning animation, creating a website, writing, even starting my own podcast!

Three things that I really wanted to highlight during these 100 days was:

  1. Challenging the question, do I really need to have a job?
  2. Instead of seeing unemployment as an obstacle, what are the hidden opportunities here?
  3. My goal was if I can inspire and impact just one person in my network, then I’ve completed my service to help others in similar situations as me.
The road of uncertainty.
The road of uncertainty.

Thinking back on the journey, I’ve learned things about myself I didn’t know before starting this challenge. It’s quite funny when it happens, after 34 years of age, I still learn something new about me. Below are 3 of my biggest learnings during this journey.

1) The unintended marketing strategy.

What started as a self-reflection journey and a remedy for the stigma around unemployment, became suddenly a marketing strategy that I didn’t really anticipate. Within the first 10 days I got around 15 recruiters that wanted to book me for a chat. I got the impression that they couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to have a job, and was curious to know more. You can almost draw the comparison of deciding that you are taking a break from dating and choosing to be single. When you shift that energy, people notice. You radiate an energy of self focus and become attractive in an energy that people want to be around.


2) Shooting myself in the foot

After announcing my challenge to the public there was this surge of interest that made me excited and borderline hubris. The interest was HUGE... for the first 10 days. People were giving me praise, recruiters were on the hunt and I felt like I got huge traction to my profile, which led me to believe that this would keep going for the entirety of the challenge.

As soon as I become old news, my big audience left, as my motivation. After 20 days of doing this, I felt a drop in my creative process. It felt less like something I wanted to do, and more like, well like being employed (without a team, or getting paid).

The biggest f*ck you moment for me was when it hit me that I had 80 days left until I was finished with this challenge. I became the guy that actively choose to be unemployed, and people were following me to withhold my promise.

Creating accountability is great, but be mindful that it can create an enormous anxiety machine towards yourself. Whip or carrot?

Looking back at the experience, I want to say that I did it for me, but in the back of my head, a piece of me wanted praise and validation from my network.


3) Confidence or Courage?

My challenge resonated with people, and the two words that people kept sharing with me was, the appreciation of me being vulnerable and the courage I had to share my story openly to people.

Something that really surprised me doing this challenge was the consensus of feedback I got from people. Linkedin has been for a certain time a place were you boast and flex your achievement and success. This has given people a bad taste and almost a false sense of “everybody is doing great” perception.

Rarely do people just say that things suck or that you're career isn't going that well. If they do, it always starts with "I had nothing, to I'm a millionaire now " -type of story.

Being vulnerable, open and courageous of your hardship creates a connection with others. Something you rarely maybe experience in a platform like Linkedin.

Final Advice To Anyone In The Same Journey

If I knew that this would create such a huge impact and that I would learn a lot from this experience then I would have without a doubt done this challenge. We tend to want to know the outcome or result before starting it. "Life can only be understood backward but it must be lived forward.” It’s not until you start doing something you see the opportunities unfold.

There is always an opportunity in every obstacle. You just have to see it from a different perspective.

If you ever lose your job, it's a great experience but it doesn't become a great experience until you've let it marinate, gotten through the hardship of looking for a new job and while looking back at the experience. A learning doesn't become a learning until it has gotten enough time to marinate.

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