Unemployment can be a time of renewal and reinvention

There are many paths to acquiring independence through employment

Peter Bailey


As a small rural community in the Fraser Valley, Hope experiences some significant challenges in employment.

Anyone job searching in this community will tell you there are very few jobs posted and it seems that it’s “who you know,” that gets you a job. Conversely, we, at Hope’s WorkBC Centre, speak with employers who say how hard it is to find people. Clearly there is a perception gap here.

There are many paths to acquiring independence through employment, which makes “Workpath” a fitting name for the column. However, when I separated work from path and Googled each word independently, I discovered these definitions:

Work – Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

Path – One who is diseased and suffering.

Diseased and suffering? When I think about the thousands of clients I have served over the past 20 years in Hope, I think many perceive themselves in that way.

As a case manager at Free Rein Associates, I have heard how unemployment carries a stigma, much like a disease. Additionally, work is not always perceived as something to be enjoyed. Our collective consciousness may see work as a negative activity.

The story of Adam and Eve in the Bible is one in which the residents of Eden were evicted from paradise and forced to toil for their survival. Fast forward two thousand years later and ask someone how they are doing on a Friday afternoon. Their response will likely be something like “Thank God its Friday!”

So many people are engaged in jobs they despise. Is that because they believe they are doing what they have to do to survive? Maybe they see too few options for their future? Now may be the time to rethink that.

My hope is that these regular columns will challenge you to think about what it is you would love to do and then achieve that goal.

Unemployment is a time of uncertainty, bringing feelings of loss and at times, failure. This can be compounded when living in a small rural community such as Hope where there are few employment opportunities that generally offer a low wage.

However, there is another side to unemployment. It can be a time of renewal and reinvention. It can be a time of reflection and planning; a time of determining a new future.

I will bring forward suggestions and ideas for finding work that is satisfying and fulfilling, and offer alternative techniques for job searching and ways to think about and pursue your passion.

It is important to note that there is no one right way to job search. It needs to suit you. The way you choose to seek work needs to feel right. You may need to step out of your comfort zone but not to the degree where you feel phony or insecure. That is not going to help at all.

If, as you read this, you feel you need help with something, head down to the WorkBC Centre on Third Ave.

The centre offers a variety of services including: job search advice, resume templates, case management and retraining for eligible clients. Stop by or call 604-869-2279 to make an appointment.