It is difficult enough to summon the energy to begin a job hunt after having left or lost one. It is even more difficult to sustain that energy. Many of my clients report that, upon taking some deserved time off to “lick their wounds” or, if the departure was voluntary, take a long-delayed vacation, they were able to jump aggressively into the search for employment, spending 4, 5, 6 or even more hours a day polishing their resumes, combing the job sites, networking, writing cover letters carefully tailored to the specifics of a ob opening, etc. However, after several weeks or months without success their energy flagged and self-doubt invariably mushroomed. This is particularly true when these client have heard nothing back after having applied (a phenomenon that is so widespread it boggles the mind).
The mistake many of my clients have made is to personalize the lack of response. They give it significance and meaning: “I’m not special, noteworthy, or of value”. Of course not hearing back says far more about the shortcomings of the organization than it does of the applicant. After all, how complicated is it for a firm to send an e-mail of acknowledgment to an applicant? Their not doing so bespeaks an attitude towards workers that is certainly not the one you’d like your employer to have. Nonetheless, the large majority of hirers unfortunately seem to fall into this category.
Repeated unsuccessful efforts are all too likely to sap the energy out of the job search just when maximum energy is needed. I posted earlier about techniques to lift oneself out of hopelessness: “From Hopelessness to Motivation to Success,” but here I’d like to suggest some ways to prevent falling into hopelessness to begin with.
There are certain personality types who are exceptionally prone to fall into a place of low energy and inaction, stemming from hopelessness. I encountered a vivid example of this in April when I began working with a very talented client who found himself stalled in his quest for more fulfilling work. While talking to him about his search history and reviewing his job-hunting materials it became apparent to me that he was stalled because not only did he not feel good about himself, but his resume, cover letters, and elevator pitch all reflected that low self-esteem. So, when he looked at what he’d set forth as his platform for a potential employer to review he naturally asked himself “why would someone be interested in hiring me?” He’d fallen into a vicious cycle of feeling inadequate that reflected itself in portraying himself as sub-par. If you know yourself to be caught in this cycle, it is virtually imperative to invest in the assistance of a life coach with expertise in career counseling. The guidance and accountability can be invaluable – having someone to first of all point out the problem (the client I’m referring to here was unable to even see it); second to cheer you on so that you’re able to get through the inevitable troughs of self-doubt and lassitude and; third, hold you to the completion of tasks and meeting deadlines just as you begin to flag. No friend or family member can provide the tough, objective guidance that is necessary in these situations.
You might be thinking to yourself “I’m not in the financial position to be able to invest in professional guidance”. Do your best to find a way. It can pay off many-fold.
I encountered a somewhat different set of circumstances in working with a young, beautiful, personable, and talented woman this month. She loves her work (social media), but is so frustrated at her relatively slow progress (promotions, raises) in the organization that she came to me to begin looking for work at another firm. It quickly became apparent to me that she was essentially clueless about some of the basic political skills that can be of great value in moving ahead. For instance, she gives no indication of dissatisfaction to her boss, has not cultivated “allies” among her clients, nor reached out to any senior members of her company to act as mentors. My guess is that, as she starts to exercise these fundamental skills, her career progress will accelerate dramatically.