A bit like a visit to the dentist, my encounters with clients often occur when their job search pain outweighs the resistance to the medicinal salve and career healing that our collaboration will provide. Similar to how a person bears a toothache via self-service workarounds—chewing on the opposite side of the mouth where the cracked molar resides or tempering an infected tooth’s pain with daily Ibuprofen doses—these short-term fixes eventually give way to deeper dive procedures to meaningfully stem the pain and to prevent further, more damaging infection and loss.
Understandably, individuals who contact me for career services initially indulge in anxiety-filled, self-absorbed conversations that evoke their throbbing career search pain. Like a temporary crown or a prescription drug to reduce the swelling, our initial conversations and targeted homework act as an initial salve to calm frayed nerves and lessen the most dominating hurt.
Helping steer a more direct route: repairing tattered listening skills and settling scattered thoughts, bringing about the realization they are no longer alone on this wilderness journey, a tumultuous voyage filled with roadblocks, potholes and danger signs, one unlike which they may have EVER encountered in their corporate climb up the career ladder, is just part of the journey we undertake.
Bottom line: Calming one’s nerves and regaining positivity and forward-momentum are fundamental to an optimistically focused job search. Though assuaged nerves and a focus on positivity are essential to a job search in a sea of opportunity, many people remain landlocked, shackled by negativity and with no intention of changing.
In a recent article by TalentCulture Founder Meghan M. Biro, she discusses “finding your intent” and making “every action resonate with the intent to do something positive to improve your workplace.” I would like to extend this idea further to individuals in career transition (who are often dealing with the emotional ache of job search), to encourage them to make every action resonate with the intent to improve not only their unemployed situation but also to elevate their energy and attitude. This intention knits so intimately into the job search process and impacts the results.
Having personally experienced the storms of loss in the past 10 years, I can tell you there are MANY ways to empower oneself following a major blow to one’s ego and financial-sustaining foundation.
1. Adjust and then manage your expectations: Job search often requires hours of mind-stumping retooling. Don’t give up! Like a persnickety motor on your automobile (or in my husband’s and my experience, our sailboat), you may find yourself investing energy and finances into a variety of resources, only to find that when you turn the key, ‘kerplunk,’ your job search engine fails to start.
2. Adjust your plan: Current action steps not working? Search for NEW ways to achieve traction, one feat at a time.
- If this means deep-sixing non-traction-inducing action steps that you had etched firmly into your 15-page job-search success plan, do it! You can always return to your well-thought-out and expertly drawn up action plan later, but in the meantime, do not become so attached to it that you cannot adjust.
- In the case of the non-functioning sailboat motor, my husband and I relented control (and perceived expense) and invested in a new motor and an expert to install this new engine. As a result, we have been sailing into the sunset for nearly a year following our outlay! Job seekers, perhaps there are outside resources into which you may invest both intellectual and financial resources that will help restart your job search motor. Shift your thinking from “cost” to “investment” in yourself!
3. Identify one new actionable item to try, then just DO. Reach out to others who’ve been there/done that, and ask THEM what worked in THEIR job search. Try to avoid feeling overwhelmed, since they may espouse a list of 10+ must-try action steps that delivered their job-landing miracle. Instead, really listen to their suggestions, brainstorm with them, and then pluck just one suggestion that resonates. Then DO IT; implement the idea, even if it means moving outside of your comfort zone. You will be surprised at the impact of just ONE new to-do item may have!
4. Transform yourself and your career value. Yes, you already may have five, 10, perhaps even 20 years of value dripping from your career arsenal. This is GREAT! Now think: what more can I learn? Where might I boost my learning, expand my credentials and grow my experience to add value to my target audience (hiring decision-maker)?
- Enroll in a class (in-person or Internet-based) that will develop your mind in subjects attractive to your focus audience. If your target audience is technical, take a computer course. Are you vying for healthcare-related roles? Find a class centered on medical issues. You get the drift. Identify relevant class work that will nourish your mind while expanding your worth to your target audience.
- Volunteer your talent with an organization that intrinsically requires that you learn as you contribute. When I began my career in career management, I joined the local Society of Human Resources Management chapter and immediately volunteered to join a committee. Within weeks, I was committed to attending monthly Marketing Committee meetings.
- Volunteer your talent, plus assume a leadership role! After a couple of years contributing as a SHRM chapter committee member, I was tapped as Marketing Committee Chair. For about six years, I invested intellectual capital into this human-resources-focused endeavor as a way to learn with and from like-minded professionals, individuals who reciprocally harbored intellectual capital that was of value to my clients and me. At the same time, I was able to give back, leveraging my writing and creative marketing talent. In this way (and of value to me), I nurtured my leadership skills.
5. Invest in yourself and your career management. I would be remiss not to mention (based on my passion and belief in the absolute value of the written word) that career reinvention begins with your own introspection and precision-focused career positioning documents. A well-articulated story is the springboard from which all career conversations emanate. Placing value on yourself, your career and the investment in building meaningful, quality-centered communications is integral in a successful and smooth job search process.
Unplugging from negativity and intending to create and surround oneself with positivity will inevitably improve your job search and career advancement efforts and will ultimately elevate the corporate community and culture within which you contribute. With an eye on what can be instead of the obstacles, most of us can create new opportunity arteries instead of letting economic and social blockages impede us. Many how-to paths are available for us to explore; go exploring today!