Recently a client of mine abruptly returned to a 40-hour a week job after more than a year of unemployment. He related his surprise at how he felt returning the 9-to-5 in a busy workplace, even having had many years of such experience. The words culture shock and jet lag came to mind – after being on his own schedule and relatively isolated for such a long period of time. His first few days on the job were admittedly a bit rough and he might not have been making a great first impression due his jet lag and culture shock
The old standard advice for job seekers of maintaining a schedule, to which I frequently add the importance of getting out with people as much as possible is not only good for your mental health, but it improves your job search prowess and facilitates a smooth transition once you get back to work.
For people who have taken an extended period of time out of the working world, such as those who have cared for their young, old, or ill family members, I frequently suggest easing back into the working world with a part-time arrangement. Most of my clients who from a more nurturing home environment to the political nuances, fluorescent lights, ringing phones, and hectic pace of a busy corporate environment suffer from culture shock and can become acutely unhappy.
Other ideas include taking on a part-time volunteer job that gets you out with people on a regular basis or even a minimum wage job that allows you to interact with the general public.
If nothing else, anticipate a little jet lag and culture shock, take it slowly, and treat yourself well as you begin your next ‘vacation’ from unemployment.
Tracy Laswell Valdez