What are you afraid of?

I have a friend who lost his job following an acquisition. He was over 55 and had 30 years with the company. He hated networking. He tried it and then he simply refused to do it anymore. He mailed resumes, and mailed resumes, and mailed resumes. Ten months later, he took a job that he hated. Two years after that, he simply retired. The reason that he hated networking and his search failed was fear. He was afraid of rejection and did not want to put himself in a position where someone would have to tell him “no.”

Any Star Wars fans out there? What did Yoda say to Luke Skywalker when they first met on whatever jungle planet that was? That Luke was filled with hate and fear. He would have to control or release that fear or he would not be able to control the force, and the dark side would get him.

One more movie reference – what was one of the top songs of 2013? Let it Go, sung by Elsa in the movie Frozen.

So, what’s the connection here? If you’re reading this it is likely that you’ve lost your job. You may be angry with your former employer for putting you in this position. You may be upset with your former boss who wouldn’t listen to you. You might have issues with the last company that said they were going to make you an offer, but didn’t. You might be concerned that you are going to run out of money before you find a new job. You might be angry with your spouse who thinks you aren’t trying hard enough. Maybe you have been rejected so many times you just can’t take one more! There are lots of emotion during the job search process, and not many of them are helpful in finding a new job.

I am an NPR addict and listen every morning and evening. A few weeks ago, they aired a story of a man paralyzed by fear. To help himself he invented a game called Rejection Therapy. Click here to listen to that story. I’m not recommending that you start playing this game, but I’m also not saying you shouldn’t. It worked for him.

If you are consumed with fear and anger, it will deeply effect you, and your job search. You will be unable to convey confidence and positive energy if you are angry at the world or desperate for someone to hire you. As Elsa says, “let it go.” I’ve been in your shoes and I understand the frustration. But whatever has happened has happened and there is nothing you can do to change that. The only thing you can control is your behavior right now. In this very moment, you can act in the manner that is most likely to move you forward in the direction you want to go.

The poem Desiderata by Max Ehrmann says, “You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.”

You will find a job. Accept that as a given. Let go of the anger of whatever happened to put you in this situation. Face your fears of rejection or failure and put them behind you. Move forward with confidence and purpose. Embrace the future and you too, may become a Jedi.

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If you want more advice on how to write a resume, how to, network or just how to find a job, check out I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another. Click here for more details.


Happy Anniversary!

Wow, how time flies. I just checked and realized that my first post on this blog was in October, 2013. Now, 13 months and 56 blog posts later, here we are. Hopefully, if you are job seeker, you haven’t been reading since last October.

This is Thanksgiving week. Take a break from your job search and reflect on the things for which you can be thankful. In my many searches, I have been blessed with a supportive family and friends, the generosity of my networking contacts, and the confidence that I would find another job and continue to build my career. I am confident that you will too.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday.

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.


Take a Break

If you’ve been reading this blog, this advice may sound a bit out of character for me. You’ve heard me advocate that if you are out of work, you need to make finding a job your new full time job. You need to spend just as many hours each week looking for a job as your plan to spend working at your new job. Being unemployed is not an opportunity to catch up on your reading, make some house repairs, or get back up to speed on The Young and the Restless. Being unemployed is your opportunity to dramatically expand your network, to overhaul your resume, to practice your elevator speech, and to stop being unemployed. That is the advice you should be used to (and that you’ll hear again).

But, you also have to recognize that you cannot work that hard continuously. Most employers offer you paid holidays and vacations. Maybe not a whole lot, but some, and you need to treat your job search like a job. That means that every once in a while, you need to take a break. Step away from the keyboard, turn off your phone, and relax.

There are amazing benefits to rest, recreation, and recuperation. I know, you’re unemployed and don’t have any extra money to take a vacation. That’s okay. For two or three days, just don’t go “to work.” Hang around the house, putter in the yard, go to the park, visit the zoo, watch a movie, read that book, whatever. Let your mind and body relax and decompress.

After your break, you’ll have more energy, be more creative and be ready to get back to work. Make sure to take day or two off every month. The job search can be a long and difficult process. If you don’t take care of yourself and let being unemployed beat you down, it will make the process longer and harder.

Step back, take a short break, relax, rejuvenate, and then get back to it. We need to get you back to work!

For more details about I’m Fired?!? A Business Fable about the Challenges of Losing One Job and Finding Another, click here.


Volunteer

So, you’ve been out of work for some time; you have (you think) exhausted your network; you have applied for every job you can find; you regularly attend one or two job clubs; and nothing is working? I know it is an incredibly frustrating feeling. Maybe a solution is to try giving rather than taking…

An excellent way to spend some of your now available time is to give some of it away. I suggest you consider four categories of volunteer work:

Based on your profession – find ways, possibly through the local chapter of your professional association, to use your skill set to benefit a not-for-profit. Find a local social service agency where you can relate to their mission and ask if they would be interested in some free professional assistance (I can almost guarantee they will be). If you are an HR person volunteer to conduct an HR audit. If you are an IT person volunteer to install computers. If you are a marketing person volunteer to help them with social networking. You get the idea – give to them what you really want someone to pay you to do.

Based on your community – find a need in your community and see if they need some additional workers. Regardless of your professional training you can most likely pick up trash, serve at the reception desk at your local hospital, read to children at a Head Start, or help direct traffic for a local 5k run.

Based on your passions – find a need that with an agency that does what you love. If you love animals volunteer at an animal shelter. If you want to be outdoors work at a nature sanctuary. If you love art become a museum docent.

Based on your faith – find a need at your house of worship that fits you. You can teach Sunday school, lead a mission trip, coordinate a community garden, or paint the nursery.

The bottom line is that there are better places where you can spend your time other than on the couch watching soap operas or surfing the net hoping to stumble on a new job posting. Volunteering does wonderful things for you. Volunteering can help you keep your skills sharp, learn or practice a new skill, meet new networking contacts or maybe uncover new job opportunities. Just as importantly, volunteering can meet the needs of others and help your community be a better place. Volunteering keeps you keep busy and stay physically and mentally active. Finally, volunteering helps you feel good about yourself and provides energy to help you sustain your job search.

If you can’t find anyone to hire you yet, get up and find a way to give away what you have. Others will benefit, you’ll feel better and it just may help you find that next opportunity.


Pray for Whirled Peas

I have a friend who has a t-shirt that intrigues me.  The shirt has a graphic of a round green and blue swirled ball that vaguely resembled the view of Earth from space.  The caption is “Pray for Whirled Peas.” It is great! She also has one that simply says (in large letters) HUMANKIND (and in smaller letters) BE BOTH.

These two shirts have, rather obliquely, spawned this post.  I’ve worked with a lot of job seekers and the key to finding a job remains networking.  For many, if not most people, networking is difficult.  You have to put yourself in some uncomfortable positions to tell your story over and over.  You have to make yourself vulnerable and ask for help (now I’m starting to sound like Dr.  Phil).  Bottom line – it’s not fun, but it has to be done.

But what makes networking even harder is when you run up against someone who refuses to help.  Someone who doesn’t want to hear your story – or even worse, who makes you go through your whole spiel an then says “Sorry, I don’t know anyone who is hiring.” HUMANKIND people! BE BOTH.

If someone asks you to help them with their network, say yes.  Listen closely to their story and be empathetic to their position.  Always refer them to someone and in those rare instances where they’ve already talked to everyone you know ask to see their Target list.  Encourage and support them in any way that you can.  Make sure they always get something from you: a name, an organization, a job search tip, something.  Do what you can so that when they walk away 15 minutes later they feel better about their job search.

I can hear some of you thinking … “Why?!? The job market is crappy and sometimes these people just need a dose of reality.  They need to wake up and smell the coffee.  This is no land of fairies and rainbows.  There are no jobs like they want, they need to step off their high horse and just get back to work doing anything.”

And my answer to you is “Put a sock in it buddy.” You do not know everything.  You cannot predict the future.  Your job in the networking process is to be helpful and supportive.  Reality will take care of itself.  There are two reasons that you need to behave like this.  One – it’s the right thing to do.  Two – you just might find yourself in this situation in the future and you’ll need friends.  You’ll want to go to the people that came to you and you’ll want them to be helpful and supportive.  It’s a small world and what goes around comes around.

Now, your take way from today is when someone asks you for networking help – give it to them.  And in your spare time, pray for whirled peas.