Unemployment ... Dealing With The Wait
August 25, 2015
This is as much for those employed as it is for those unemployed. The radio business is a small community and there are good and bad times. These days too many are experiencing the downside of our business, unemployment.
I know this will sound trite to some, but if you're on the sidelines and trying to cope with the reality of temporarily not working in radio, try and find ways to keep your self-respect. It is important to refocus and reevaluate while waiting on the next opportunity.
During my career, I have been lucky to have been on the beach for only two extended periods of time; once for seven months and the other time was one-and-a-half years. Both times happened to me early on in my career and the first time I didn't handle it well.
The initial unemployment led to doubts, anxiety, and an unhealthy habit of planning my entire day on being mentally alert for a phone call. Another big mistake was drifting away from my working radio friends. I started feeling as if maybe there was something wrong with my air act and felt ashamed nothing was coming my way. When I finally landed a gig, I realized how badly I had handled being unemployed. I had missed out on truly understanding the non-radio civilian life and how listeners used radio.
In this business it is easy to get caught up in the daily grind and lose touch with what folks do. Those early brushes with unemployment taught me to embrace everything around me while waiting. Even the possibility of leaving the business for other careers presented itself. You've got to be open to life and the rest-stops along the way during your journey.
Remember, ours is still a business of relationships. Networking is essential for success in any business, even more so if you're unemployed. Start small with the people you know best. They'll give you other people to contact who'll give you more names. After a while, you'll have built a network of contacts. Keep a list and take notes on every contact you have with them. Don't forget thank-you notes. Audio presentations, resumes, ads and calls are all nice and will keep you occupied, but everyone knows most actual jobs happen because of contacts and information. No call, e-mail, or social media contact should be overlooked. The road to re-employment could come from a variety of sources.
It's On Their Time
Waiting on radio stations to get back with you can be a long process. Realize there is very little you can do to speed up the decision-making process. Don't try to figure out why managers make the decisions they do. Most times they are simply doing what they are told. I recently spoke with an OM who was caught in the middle of company layoffs. He told me, "If I hadn't fired the promotions assistant, they would have just reached around me and fired her and then maybe would have fired me, too."
When you're working, the days fly by. When you're unemployed, they crawl by. Be reasonable; give prospective employers time to review your package.
Beware of Desperation
Desperate people make desperate decisions. Don't just take any job. I know that may not make sense, especially in these tough times. But you should do a little soul searching. If you're an air personality, ask yourself, "What daypart is right for me? What format is best?" If you know exactly what you want, you'll save yourself a lot of time by zeroing in on the opportunities that can deliver it for you. Now, at the same time, you may have to adjust your salary requirements or work in a market which might have not been on your radar.
Keep Yourself Busy
Regardless, don't let your talents go completely to waste while you're searching for the next opportunity. Try to pick up some freelance or part-time work. If you're a morning guy, don't sit idly by. Submit some material to prep services. If you're an air personality, get out and do some parties. If you're a PD, keep in touch with your programming buddies. Maybe one of them can lead you to some consulting work.
In The End
When your unemployed time is over, you'll look back and know you've learned invaluable lessons about yourself and those around you. Lessons you could never have learned if not for unemployment. You'll know just how strong you can be. You'll also know more people in this business than you ever thought you could.
For Those Working
Try and keep in touch with your unemployed colleagues, don't let them drift. It is important not to abandon those on the beach. Give them leads in the industry or on part-time jobs you might have heard about. The simple act of being there will have greater significance then you could ever imagine.