“Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.”
Job searching is not just a little like wrestling a gorilla, it’s a lot like wrestling a gorilla. Just when you’ve got three good interviews lined up and feel like you aced them all, reality kicks in when you get three “Dear John” phone calls or emails, and you’re back to square one.
Gorilla 1, job seeker 0.
If they paid people to take tests, do random writing exercises and sit through day-long interviews, I’d be rich and not writing this blog (insert LOL here).
Whether this is your fifth layoff rodeo or your first, there’s always a feeling of defeat and self-loathing that goes along with the loss of a job. Keep your chin up, chances are it wasn’t you but the situation that resulted in your being let go.
I’ve been at this job searching thing for more than a year with varying degrees of success (think contracts, bit parts and tryouts). Fortunately, early on in the process, I found some contract work to keep myself busy and cash flowing in while I look for the next big thing.
Here are some keys to fighting off insanity while you look:
1. No Jammie Pants: Finding a job is your job, so treat it that way. Whether you’re freelancing or just on the computer working the job boards and networks, do not sit around in your jammie pants. At my house, it is casual Friday every day, but absolutely no jammie pants.
2. Be A Man With A Plan: I keep a calendar by my computer primarily so I don’t feel like the days are tumbling out of control. It gets really easy to feel sorry for yourself when you lose the rhythm of going into an office and your days aren’t structured.
3. Discipline: The temptation will be to play on Facebook or Twitter all day, and trust me that probably won’t get you a job. I generally set a specific amount of time each day to a) look for a job using job boards and social media; b) learn a new skill that will be helpful in finding a new job. There are many free or inexpensive programs that can teach you new tricks; c) spend time networking by using emails, LinkedIn and other social media. This should be work and not play time, so be careful.
4) Get Moving: Exercise for at least one hour each day. Run, walk, bike; do something that gets you out of the house and your body moving. This will help both your mental and physical health. Plus, you never know when a running friend might have a job lead.
5) Get Out: Get out of the house every day. Don’t just sit there in the same old sweats you’ve worn for three days watching reruns. Even if it’s a quick trip for coffee, allow yourself time to get away from those same four walls.
6) Oprah-Free Zone: No veg’ing out in front of the TV. Finding a job is you JOB. Besides, how many episodes of “Friends” can you watch?
7) Do The Right Thing: This is your chance to put some good back in the world. Help an elderly neighbor. Volunteer. Do something to put good in the world without expecting anything in return. Call it karma.
8) Now’s The Time: Nail one of those projects you’ve been putting off for years. Spend an hour a day working on something you’ve been putting off. Sort and file that big stack of receipts. Tear down the tree house.
9) Ask For Help: Don’t be afraid to let your friends know that you’re looking for work. This isn’t your daddy’s job market. Everybody in this economy has either been laid off or knows somebody who has been laid off, so the stigma of layoffs isn’t there anymore.
Ask For More Help: If your resume isn’t getting a good response look to a neighbor, friend or relative for help. Even if all they do is run a spellcheck on your resume, you’d be surprised what a little help can do. If you’re lucky enough, you might just have a resume guru next door who can put your bio up on a lift and give it a good tune-up.
10) Don’t Freak Out: This can be a difficult one. I’ve been on a lot of interviews; been tested and retested; done IQ tests; you name it. I’ve been the runner-up or in the final three for so many jobs I’ve lost count.
Remember, getting close is a good thing. As frustrating as it is to miss out on a job and the promise of a consistent paycheck, you have to remember that although it feels like there is an accumulative effect of all these interviews, the people doing the hiring don’t feel that effect. They are looking for the right person for their job, so they don’t carry the burden that you do when you’ve missed out on several positions.
Keep Positive: That’s the biggest takeaway I can give you. On my first job many years ago the man who hired me quit just days after I started working. I saw him weeks later playing basketball at the Y. He told me to keep my sense of humor because it’s the only thing we can really call our own.
So keep your sense of humor, and remember the gorilla will eventually get tired, and you’ll land on your feet with a new job.