For a long time now, I have seen “Psychologically Unemployable” listed as an employer on friends’ Facebook profiles. I know that my friends do not work for companies called Psychologically Unemployable. I realize that they are trying to say that they are self-employed and that working for someone else is not their cup of tea. People who use this term are probably trying to convey that they are living the self-employed “entrepreneur’s dream” and that they are not working in the conventional corporate space for a conventional employer.
Psychologically Unemployable, by Jeffery Combs, is a book about designing a life and career as it fits the entrepreneurial individual. He emphasizes the ideas of having dreams, creating your own freedom, building new life skills and going through life on your terms. These thoughts are awesome and I agree with each of his suggestions that I just mentioned. However, I have to believe that there could be another phrase that may show a little more sensitivity and compassion to others.
Truthfully, most of the people I know who say that they are psychologically unemployable are qualified for all kinds of employment. For several years, I worked in the mental health field. My formal and traditional education is psychology (undergraduate degree) and social work (graduate degree). As such, I have worked with many patients and clients who genuinely ARE psychologically unemployable. There are certain mental illnesses that make holding down a job nearly impossible and, in some cases, completely impossible. I have a soft spot in my heart for these people and their situations and I wonder if “psychologically unemployable” is really the best term for successful entrepreneurs.
I cannot put myself in the shoes of someone who is really and truly psychologically unemployable so I cannot imagine what it feels like. However, I DO know that I would not want it being used in an “entrepreneur chic” kind of way. These people go through life fighting through their psychological unemployment each and every day.
In my experience, being psychologically unemployable is a phrase that is only used by people in entrepreneurial settings and social service settings. Many people might not know what it means. For people who are not familiar with the new use of this term, I wonder how being psychologically unemployable might look. For example, if you are an entrepreneur and you are using Facebook to generate business, do you think that ALL of your potential clients would understand what being psychologically unemployable means to you? Might they perhaps think that you ARE unemployable? Might they think that you are being inconsiderate and uncaring? Might they wonder why you don’t list the ways in which you ARE employable?
I feel blessed that I AM employable, whether it be by myself or by someone else. I choose to employ myself but this certainly does not mean that I don’t have the abilities to work in a different setting. I know how to work on a team, in an office, in a multi-disciplinary setting, supervising others and reporting to others. I currently work by myself and for myself. It is wonderful and it is my choice. For these reasons alone, I feel lucky. I suppose that I could say that I am psychologically unemployable but I wouldn’t. I don’t want the word “unemployable” associated with my name and, even more than that, I want to be aware of others who do not have the same luxury of options that I have.