Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

There is a HUGE Risk Labeling YOURSELF "Unemployed". So Why Do It?

I remember losing my job in 2005 and running to the dentist before the last day of employ so I could get my teeth cleaned while I had insurance to cover it.  I knew the people in my dentist office quite well since I tend to be someone who sticks with people who I like and do good work.  It paid off when I lost my job, because the folks there moved patients aside to get me in quickly after I told them the situation. At that time, I walked in rather shattered and very nervous; I had a family of 5 and within a few days I would be paying through the nose for Cobra.  The girls in the office said "Hi" and wished me luck as I left with my clean teeth. Nothing more was said.


I returned six months later for my follow up dental cleaning.  The minute I walked into the office, the receptionist recognized me, smiled then quickly looked concerned remembering "my situation" from the last visit.  She quickly asked me, "Linda, how have you been?  Are you still unemployed?"  WOW!  Even six months ago I NEVER gave myself that label; UNEMPLOYED!  But there it was, SHE gave me the label of unemployed!


I was taken aback, even though I did collect unemployment, I NEVER gave myself the UNEMPLOYMENT label.  I stuttered a bit when I replied, "Well, no, I never considered myself unemployed, I got busy and created my own work while I was looking for a regular job".  She looked shocked and replied, "So you don't have a job right?"  I laughed and told her that something funny happened on the way to looking for a regular job.  She replied with interest, "What?" With a smile and very proudly I replied, "I found one and turned it down!"  Boy, did that response have her going!


So she asked one more time, making sure she could correctly label me, "THEN YOU ARE STILL UNEMPLOYED?" I replied firmly, "NOPE, I AM NOT unemployed and never was in my mind."  I went on to tell her that the minute I lost my job I applied for unemployment and began interviewing for a regular job but my real job at that time was passionately building and seeking my own self employment.  I wanted to hire myself and it ended up working out better.  She probably laughed to herself like, "Oh right, in your own mind you are were not unemployed", but guess what?  I did not care, in MY MIND and at that time I was not unemployed, I was opening my mind and my energy to ALL opportunities out there and that was a job onto itself!  When you lose your job, what do you have to lose?  I was busy starting something new and exciting.  Who had time to take the label of being unemployed? 


The receptionist said, "Well, OK you are not unemployed but do you have any dental insurance then?"  I laughed again and said "Yep, my husband went back to work part time at Costco and I have better dental insurance than what I had as a Region Vice President at Smith and Nephew!"  She looked at me and said with a smile and just a little admiration, "You have it all figured out don't you?"  I just nodded  and said, "yes!" and threw down the new insurance card.  Damn right!  


Certainly when I lost my job It was scary, I went to bed with my toes curled at night; some nights I NEVER went to bed (well lets say NEVER went to sleep) staying up all night reading "How to books"; How to set up corporations, how to build websites, how to build corporate business plans and etc.,. My motto was and still is, "Failure is not an option".  I was not unemployed, I was going to do something MORE with my life than I had done in that lousy job with an ill fated company heading in the wrong direction (and it has been stumbling around for years long after my departure).  I had been UNDER Employed while I was employed!  Now there is a thought!  So no, I NEVER labeled my self as UNEMPLOYED when I lost my job, it was time to do MORE!


Was it easy?  Not at first, but success did come quickly.  My oldest daughter, who was 18 at the time and a High School Senior, would walk by my bedroom door late at night and see the light on.  She would knock quietly and open the door to see me sitting up in bed with my "how to books" thrown all around me and a lap top perched on my pillow next to me. She would say, "I am worried about you Mom, you are like crazy about succeeding in this new business." I would say, "Don't worry honey, I am finally realizing that I have been given a great opportunity late in life to do something more and I am taking a huge risk, but it is time to throw the dice.  I am not going to work for incompetent companies or people again."  Before she quietly closed the door she said very softly, "Just don't kill yourself in the process."  I became successful in my transition and I firmly believe that part of that success was that I Never ONCE thought of myself as UNEMPLOYED.  Not once.


That discussion with the administrative person in my dental office took place almost 7 years ago, she is still employed at the dental office, I am still self employed and I do have insurance (she never asks me anymore) and I am so thankful I NEVER gave myself the label of UNEMPLOYED.  You see, what you tell yourself does matter, it matters MORE than what people are trying to tell you.  Labeling yourself as unemployed is like saying you are a loser, like it is a permanent title.  The risk of taking on that label could be your feeling of self worth and beginning to believe that it is you; Jim Smith, Unemployed or John Smith, Unemployed and is a sorry ass.  Take the label on and you begin to believe it and worse, sometimes you become it.  


So don't risk it; don't put unemployed on your resume, don't put it on your Linkedin Profile or even here in this Group on your Membership Page UNLESS you plan to be permanently UNEMPLOYED and if that is the case, replace the label with RETIRED!  The risk of labeling yourself with anything, means you begin to become what that label personifies.  If you have to label yourself, then why not pick what you want to become or do in your next role; unemployment really is just a passage or transition don't make it your title.  If you do it right, it can become a passage to something so much better than what you left even if the leaving wasn't your decision!

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved

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Comment by Linda Hertz on November 5, 2011 at 5:30pm


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