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(:= Cthulhu's Corner

Advice For The Unemployed

Bow down to the Great and extremely Employable One.

You just quit your job. Maybe you just got laid off. Perhaps your (now former) employer tanked suddenly, and you can't get one penny from them. No matter how it happened, you're out of a job.

So what do you do with all your free time?

Oh, sure, people tell you to go look for work here or there or post your CV (resume to you Americans) at this jobs website or that one, but it only takes so long to do that in a day. The rest of your time is free. If you don't find a way to fill it up properly, you could be wasting some of what could be the best days of your life.

Let's hear what the experts have to say about being unemployed.

"First get a really cool computer game"

Web designer Gunter Fernandez has been laid off 17 times in the last 2 years. While being bounced from dotcom failure to dotcom failure, he's picked up quite a few pointers about what you should do. "First off, go to the store on your way home from work and get a really cool game. If you start into it right away, you'll be done with it by the time you start getting calls to do interviews. Wait too long, and you'll buy it when you start the interviews and you'll find yourself trying to schedule around your gameplaying time."

Gunter adds, "It's important to play that really good computer game in your downtime so you eventually get burned out on it and wish you were doing something else, like working. Being totally bored with computer games is critical to being able to focus on the job hunt."

Right now, Gunter's between-jobs fixation is Civilization III from Firaxis. "I can really blow my entire day on that game. I've lost five pounds already from forgetting to eat. I might add that spending money on that computer game pays for itself in food you forget to eat while totally engrossed in it. Plus, it allows the clothes you had that perhaps were getting a little too tight for you to have a new lease on life. For the small price of a good computer game, you get so much added value, it's a no-brainer. I feel sorry for anyone who can't lose contact with reality because of a computer game."

"Whip out a Tarot deck"

Currently unemployed Liesl Yamaguchi offers this sage advice: "Don't apply for your dream job right away. You're probably rusty at interviewing and will do poorly. In this market, you can't afford that. Pick some sacrificial interviews you plan to blow off and sharpen your chops there. I find that when I go to an interview with every intention of not getting the job, I feel free to experiment with answers to questions about how I deal with failure and the like. Other times, I just go in for fun and have a good time answering with a fake Jamaican accent and whipping out a Tarot deck to predict next quarter's earnings per share."

"One great benefit of all this," Liesl goes on to say, "is that if they *do* hire you in that condition, you know you've got it made at that company. That Tarot thing got me a great systems analyst postion with a firm that sadly went bankrupt last week. Still, I got a great severance package, so it's all good."

Liesl touches on a key point worth a tangent here: Severance packages are valid points of negotiation when seeking a job. Just as you ask about retirement plans, base pay, bonuses, and stock options, check into how they lay off employees. Do you get two or three months' pay? Will they foot the bill for your insurance? Will they allow you to "accidentally" forget to bring your laptop to work the day everyone gets fired? Don't be shy about bringing these issues up. Modern, progressive employers will be happy to talk candidly about them. Finally, our third expert Valentino Ng looks at the debate over how drunk you should get while unemployed. He says, "Really, it's a matter of choice. Most people agree on getting roaring drunk the first night. Afterward, there are as many ideas about what to do next as there are unemployed people."

"Everything you ingest reduces your cash reserves"

Ng continues, "Through all my firings, I've tried numerous methods of substance abuse, and I've settled on a reasonable pattern that works well for me and can be adapted for anyone with minor modifications. After that first night's binge, take things easily and gradually. Remember, with no money coming in, everything you ingest reduces your cash reserves, consequently reducing your ability to purchase that which you ingest. Of course, you should never sacrifice quailty. Always go for the second- or third- cheapest beer, liquor, or wine when picking your poison while unemployed. Although there's not always a wide variety for those who abuse more illegal substances, go with dealers you know and buy quality you can trust and afford. Just because it's cheap now doesn't mean you won't pay dearly for it later."

Ng adds, "If you know where your parents or friends keep their stashes, that's a potential source of free mind-altering substances, but be sure to cover your tracks. Personally, I try and stay away from them until I know I'm about to start a job, so I can replace whatever I bogart in case I'm caught. Another potential source of free stuff is the old college party. If you can crash one of those, chances are you can get quite a lot of goodies before the inexperienced youths notice you're not contributing healthily to the beer funds. It may take practice to get good at it, but is well worth the effort."

I'd like to add that being between jobs is a great time to blow off steam and take a vacation and to live a little. Sure, you gotta find some work eventually, but why be in a rush? Nobody ever dies wishing they'd spent more time at the office. So go out, have a party, see some movies, play games, enjoy your life. Eat, drink, and be merry, for sometime in the near future you have to put a tie on and interview, which is pretty close to dying in my book.


Great Cthulhu Jones
CEO, R'lyeh Consulting

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