This is another post in a series of monthly advice in association with the Career Collective, a group of professionals who collaborate to provide guidance for job seekers and careerists. The questions this month are: What do you do when you're really, really, really discouraged about your unsuccessful job search? How do you overcome the negative aspects of job search?
A pessimistic view says the light at the end of the tunnel is probably an oncoming train. I think there’s something to that, especially when you consider job search. Let’s face it, with a real unemployment rate between 16 – 18%, as of the start of February 2010, the likelihood is that looking for a job will take a very long time. Indeed, as the deterioration of the economy has unfolded, since late 2007, the average lengths of job searches have increased dramatically. Today, it is not uncommon to see folks take 12 to 18 months to find new jobs.
This is clearly discouraging! Yet, when you ask these folks why it took so long, many will frankly own up to their over reliance on traditional job search approaches; namely resumes, cover letters, and job boards. While the occasional job seeker may find a job the “old-fashioned” way, by applying for it, the majority achieved success when they stepped up their efforts to network. So, the lesson seems to be to make networking a key part of your overall search strategy. Well, make that effective networking. Frankly, pushing resumes and asking for job leads is common, but not the best way to network. It keeps you in the tunnel, wondering about the oncoming light, and becoming increasingly fearful.
So, what to do?
In a recent, Reach Interview, Pam Slim, author of Escape From Cubicle Nation: From Corporate Prisoner to Thriving Entrepreneur, made the point that even if you’re planning to continue working in an organization, it’s critical to develop the mindset and skills of an entrepreneur. Essentially, running your career is like running a business, and requires taking a much more strategic view. As well, it means taking the time to figure out how your offering fits the needs of your target audience, understanding how you are differentiated from your competitors, and determining how best to communicate your value.
Conceptually, it makes sense. Yet, it doesn’t mean you won’t face fear and uncertainty as you proceed. It’s a journey and it requires support, which brings up probably the next best part of Pam’s advice: start hanging out with “your people.” Use your networking efforts to find and connect with people who know the space you’re attempting to move into, including customers/employers and competitors. Take a genuine interest in these folks. Be prepared to listen and learn, as well as to help and share. Over time, three important things can happen: (1) you form a developmental network that supports your forward progress; (2) you gain visibility and credibility among people who you need to know and who need to know about you; (3) you set the stage for connecting with relevant opportunities for productive work.
Clearly, this is not your Father’s job search; but then, this is not your Father’s economy. It's time to get out of the narrow confines and dispiriting mechanics of traditional job search. Getting out of the tunnel probably means taking the mountain path. But you don’t need to worry about the oncoming light, and you get a better look at the horizon!
Read other great advice posted by Career Collective members.
How did members of the Career Collective respond? Follow us on Twitter with our hashtag #careercollective and read these posts:
@MartinBuckland, Job Search Made Positive
@GayleHoward, Job Search: When It All Turns Sour
@heathermundell, Help for the Job Search Blues
@heatherhuhman, 10 Ways to Turn You Job Search Frown Upside-Down
@WalterAkana, Light at the End of the Tunnel
@LaurieBerenson, Ways to Keep Your Glass Half Full
@resumeservice, Don’t Sweat the Job Search
@careersherpa, Mind Over Matter: Moving Your Stalled Search Forward
@WorkWithIllness, Finding Opportunity in Quicksand
@ErinKennedyCPRW, Dancing in the Rain–Kicking the Job Search Blues
@keppie_careers, What do do when you are discouraged with your job search
@DawnBugni, It’s the little things
@ValueIntoWords, Restoring Your Joy in Job Search
@jobhuntorg, Just SO VERY Discouraged
@barbarasafani Making Job Search Fun (Yeah, That’s Right!)
@GLHoffman, How to Overcome the Job Search Negativity
@ExpatCoachMegan, Dealing With Job Search Stress: Getting to the Source of the Problem