Jobseeker’s toolbox: how useful is hope?

It’s so ridiculously easy to lose hope when you’re unemployed. I ended up deliberately shedding mine a couple of months in. It’s not a strategy I’d recommend – hope has its uses, but it was giving me a weird face.

Last week, a very uplifting email landed in my inbox. Nearly four months after starting HTBJ, I’d got extremely used to uplifting emails not landing in my inbox. But on this particular day, I was asked to be a regular contributor to gothinkbig.co.uk, the wonderfully funny and informative careers site.

It took four months of blogging and tweeting, a guest post and a vaguely furious rant, but now I’ll be writing for them on a weekly basis. I’m professionally unemployed.

So what’s the use of hope?

“Don’t give up hope, it could all turn around at any minute!”

This is not what I’m writing to tell you. When I casually admitted I’d given up hope, this is what people said. When I tell them about my uplifting email, they’ll no doubt grab their pom poms and say, “See? I TOLD you not to lose hope!” Yes, thanks for your input on that, I should be congratulating you! As if the wins we get in life only come through wishing, and thinking positively, and other platitudes that conveniently leave out what it actually takes – action.

In essence, it doesn’t matter whether or not you lose hope, as long as you don’t lose action. If losing hope leads to going to bed and staying there like John and Yoko (in what must have been the least effective protest EVER – quick lads, stop bombing strangers, Lennon and Ono are behaving like unemployed graduates), then it’s crippling. If losing hope just means you keep applying, blogging and tweeting without agonising over when it’s all going to happen for you, nothing of importance has been lost.

Since we’re talking about hope, let’s bring The Shawshank Redemption into the discussion. That film extolled the virtues of hope, yet it wasn’t really the hero. Spoilers coming, so look away if you’ve not seen it yet – in fact look away, watch it and come back, you cinematic fool.

Andy Dufresne got out of Shawshank, not by “having hope” as Morgan Freeman drawls over the closing shot. He got out by spending twenty bloody years tunnelling a hole in the wall and planning his escape down to the last detail. Hope may have been his coach, but action did the trick. Red didn’t get out with hope either. He got out because he lost it, he stopped trying, and the right answer just fell out of his mouth into the parole officer’s lap.

Keep applying, keep blogging, keep tweeting, keep going. As long as you’re still behaving as if you have hope, it doesn’t much affect whether or not something happens for you. It just will. Nothing happens until something happens.

In the meantime, this cat is hilarious:

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