Friday, September 12, 2008

3 Tips for The Resilient Job Hunter

In a tough economy, the job search is even tougher. Valiant efforts such as multiple resume submissions, job fair attendance, and contacting everyone in your network sometimes result in little or no reward. I have coached people who seem to be doing everything right, and yet for whatever reason, they still do not get their desired result. And it can even be more difficult when you are rewarded with an interview or two only to not hear back, since at that point, it is almost impossible not to get your hopes up high. In order to survive, a job searcher must not allow these things to get them down and stay active in their efforts. Though a heavy setback might bring you down, it is critical to bounce right back and be as resilient as possible. Though there are many ways to do this, and it is often a matter of knowing and taking rein of your own psyche, here are some basic tips to help keep you on your feet rather than feel defeated:

1) Keep your bucket half full. Pollyanna might be a silly caricatured rendering of this, but there is something to be said about continually reframing and adjusting your attitude and perspective so that you can see any given situation in a favorable light. Instead of focusing on the lack of response from employers, I try to emphasize the accomplishment of my efforts themselves. I could dwell on the fact that the last ten applications and resume submission I had resulted in no response, OR I could dwell on how efficient I was at customizing my resume for each position and getting it out there in an equally efficient manner. You have control of your efforts—so emphasize you attention at how successful you are in the effort itself—not on the results. And no matter how significant your misfortune is, do all that you can to keep your sense of joy in sight. One way to do this is to create your own rewards for your efforts. Set aggressive goals for how you will seek a job, but also identify and plan to balance this with doing something good for yourself. I typically go out for ice cream or some simple pleasure like that after going through an interview. A natural reward for networking efforts is you get to have lunches and dinners with many of your friends.

2) Speaking of friends, it is vitally important to have a support group or some sort of advocate to support you through the job search challenge. Career counseling or coaching can be great for this, as working with a counselor will give you instant feedback on your approach and provide you with the encouragement that only having an advocate can give. A word of caution though: avoid the naysayers. Your friends might have the best intentions in helping you, but if you are only getting negative feedback and not enough constructive support, you can be further brought down via your associations rather than having them as a main resiliency support.

3) Fill your mind with inspiring stories of underdogs in the past who have overcome great obstacles. Everyone loves stories of those who beat the odds, and realistically, in most job searches the odds are against you too. What better time then to dwell on those who made the impossible possible, filling your mind with their examples of how every setback--no matter how great--did not stop them on their quest. You too have that kind of power—so dwell on that hope and belief that you will beat the odds no matter how many setbacks it takes for you to get there. Steve Jobs in his commencement speech to Stanford stated this idea in another inspiring way—you must connect the dots behind you; it is impossible to connect the dots ahead. Believe that all you go through has value and meaning, and no setback will stop you.