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Boundaries for the Unemployed Job Seeker

Although the unemployed job seeker does not face a daily commute and a schedule determined by an employer, his or her schedule should not be “open season” for others to make demands for time. Much like a lottery winner who suddenly receives calls from long-lost relatives, an unemployed person receives requests for their time for help with babysitting, home repairs, and just about anything else. An unemployed volunteer becomes instantly popular, and a long list of duties is dumped on the unemployed, well-meaning helper.

Those who make these time demands may not realize the strain they are placing on their own friends and loved ones. They will remain oblivious if you don’t enforce your boundaries. Your time is valuable and you’re the only one who can protect and manage this priceless resource.

Once you know how much time you have to spare, inform the person making the request. Let them know that your time and energy should be available for Priority #1 which is Your Job Search.

Don’t forget that there’s always a nice way to say anything. For example, your friend is stressed out at work and calls you in the middle of the day while you are involved in job search activities.

Respond with: “It’s great to hear from you, but I only have 5 minutes.” Now comes the hard part…stick to 5 minutes. Write down when the call came. You should be near a clock, or if you’re at your computer, check the time. Keep an eye on the time. When 5 minutes are up, check your schedule to see when you can call your friend back. “I really have to go now. I have time at 8:00 to call you back tonight.” If the friend didn’t understand the priority you have set on your time, he or she will soon realize how important your search is.

Note the steps used in this response:

  • State the Boundary (in the beginning of the call)
  • Stick to the Boundary (by writing down a note to yourself)
  • Offer alternatives. (When you let others know what you CAN do as opposed to what you CAN’T do, you will face less resistance. This also helps with maintaining relationships.)

Do you need help with setting boundaries? If you are in Central Indiana, call 317-842-8881 to set an appointment for CrossRoads Career Services.