When it comes to unemployment, I am an expert. I’ve been let go, fired, and I’ve quit, so trust me when I say, I know that being unemployed can be the most callous time you have in your life.
It’s hard keeping motivated. No matter how many jobs you apply for that are suitable for you, you get rejection after rejection, and it’s really hard to not take it personally.
‘Water off a duck’s back’ comes to mind, because unless you get tailored, specific feedback, you need to just believe that it’s not your fault if you didn’t get a job you’re qualified for. You might totally screw up the interview or application of course, but all sorts of reasons can contribute to a no interview or no hire situation that are beyond your control. You don’t know who you’re applying against and what’s happening behind the scenes in the company, so it’s more important than anything to not let those rejections get to you and stop them from ruining your confidence.
Easier said than done though. You need to keep a good mental head space when you’re job hunting, so while you’ve got a few more hours spare, watch these films after a long day of job seeking to really build the perspective, resilience and confidence you really need right now.
Into the Wild (2007)
I’m not suggesting that if you hit a bump in the road you should say, “Fuck it!” and run away from your life. But Into the Wild (2007) sends the message that it’s okay to go against the grain and to look for personal, spiritual success over professional, monetary success. You will be hit with severe wanderlust after watching this, but also a profound sense of something that will motivate you to make your fantasy life a reality.
“I’m not psychotic I’m unemployed”. No words have been so accurate when you’re job seeking. If you’ve become unemployed very suddenly, odds are you’re just desperate to pay your bills in the immediate aftershock. So you start applying like you’re desperate, and you should apply like you’re desperate! There is no shame in doing a bad job well. This is a cracking film to watch to know that if it pays the rent and you know you can do it, it’s worth applying anyway, even if you don’t necessarily fit the bill of the job or think it’s a job you’ll love.
The Blind Side (2009)
I’m aware this is a very ‘white savior’ film, but it is a true story with a positive message. What you should take from this is that it is always worth your time to share your resources and help those who need it. If you’re unemployed or struggling, you can watch this and feel some hope that there are people out there who want to help you and want to see you succeed. Kindness can get you through this, remember that when you feel alone. Oh and there’s sports in it too, I guess.
The Shawshank Redemption (1994)
The ultimate example of patience paying off. This is easily one of the best films of all time, and it is unbelievable that it was a box office bomb upon its release. The slow but sure commercial success of the movie is motivational enough, but main character Andy Dufresne’s stoic patience, self-belief and resilience can inspire us all to hang on in there for a little while longer.
This film is insane. Though yes, it might inspire you to keep pushing and working as hard as you fucking can for that one moment where you can go “I’VE GOT IT!” but I hope it doesn’t. I actually hope you can watch this film while you’re down on your luck from a higher perspective, one where you go “Jesus Christ, I might be struggling for now, but at least I’m not scary obsessive like these guys”. If working yourself to the bone puts everything else in your life into place then fine, but Whiplash (2014) makes us question; is it really possible and is it even worth it?
9 to 5 (1980)
One of the best movie examples of sticking it to the man. Something that has benefited me in interviews is going in with the mentality that the company has to attract you as well as you having to attract to them. Prepare, use the STAR technique, and don’t ever forget that you are a potential candidate because you have skills and experience the company needs. Don’t accept shit for nothing, and remember if Dolly Parton wouldn’t stand for it, neither should you.
The Pursuit of Happyness (2006)
Oh god, just know going in that this is an emotional one. Will Smith was absolutely snubbed for an Oscar for his performance in this film, and the fact that his own son, Jaden Smith, is playing the child relying on his father’s success just makes the heart-tugging moments hit harder than usual. This film really encapsulates the ups and downs of going into business with yourself. Hard times might be ahead and you need to be ready for that, but ultimately believing that it will work at some point (And of course it will; pet rocks made a profit, so can you!) and keeping yourself motivated triumphs over all in the end.
The ultimate underdog, rag-to-riches story. Sylvester Stallone’s story is legendary; from stealing jewelry and selling his own dog to make ends meet, he wrote one of the most iconic films to date with the most uplifting message for anyone down on their luck in life. Whether you’re into sports or not, the self-belief Rocky and his writer had to instill in themselves makes this one of the most motivational films of all time. Even more motivational when you learn that after the film’s success, Stallone was able to buy back that dog he sold during his meagre times!
The Intouchables (2011)
This one is subtitled, but honestly unless you’re dyslexic or have visual issues, get over it. This film is feel-good and fun while reminding us we all need to ask for help from time to time, and that help might come from an unlikely place. Don’t be afraid to explore new opportunities and experiences as well, as Philippe would be able to tell you how rewarding taking those chances can be. As well as this, we can learn from Driss that even if you think a job’s not for you, your personality and charisma can make you a great fit, and fitting into the culture of a new workplace is a rare and valuable thing.
Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
Another cross-dressing character, this guy needs a job enough to lie to his own kids. But there is some wisdom in there. You need to promote the skills you know you have, even if it means utilising them yourself. Think about what skills other people don’t have and what others have complimented you on in the past. Even things you don’t necessarily see as a skill, just market the fuck out of it anyway! Run with your strengths and apply for jobs under the premise ‘Hire for attitude, train for skills’.
Trading Places (1983)
This film is underrated in all the categories it applies to. No one considers it a Christmas film, no one uses it as a fine example of Dan Ackroyd, Eddie Murphy or Jamie Lee Curtis’ work, and I think that is truly criminal. If you’ve been working for ‘the man’ your whole life, you’ll immediately feel this film shows exactly what the top dogs of your company are doing to the peasants below them. The reason I’m putting it on here apart from to further my communist agenda, is because it reminds you how futile it all is; you can jump from rags to riches if someone takes a chance on you, and you can lose it all in seconds as well.
Slumdog Millionaire (2008)
Sometimes “it is written”. No matter your background or expertise, sometimes you find yourself in a rare predicament where you think “Everything in my life has built up to this opportunity”. However in this day and age, a lot of people fall victim to imposter syndrome, or being too modest about their accomplishments. Slumdog Millionaire (2008) is a harrowing story about luck and destiny, that will make you realise that it’s not all about the work you put in, but sometimes it’s about being at the right place at the right time. A rarer circumstance than you’d think, but before you think an offer is too good to be true, just watch this film and remember, sometimes it’s simply meant to be.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Can’t talk about this one for too long because I will cry. Although it might not end with a spring in its step, this film proves just how far you can go if you reach out for some mentoring. You might be at a crossroads or brick wall in your career, and despite your raw talent exceeding those around you, you can’t move past this block. Look to those with previous experience and ask for advice, and you just might find all your wishes come true.
This Disney number ultimately carries the message that money and success won’t solve all your problems. I hope you get that job you want, but odds are, a career change won’t solve everything you think it will. We’ve been led to believe that if you change one thing in your life, the rest of your grievances will resolve themselves. Evaluate what you’re really unhappy about before you believe more money or more responsibilities will change it for the better, because as Aladdin (1992) shows, basically you can’t polish a turd or wipe everything clean in one go. Each separate component in your life deserves separate attention, and take it from me, if you’re in a break in your career and can afford to evaluate your own psyche and routines, I cannot describe how worth it that recentering is.
Do you think these movies would give you a boost when you needed it most? Or did I miss one that’s even more motivational? Let me know in the comments, and if you are facing some career uncertainty right now, keep the faith and reach out. It won’t last forever and you’re worth a decent livelihood.