In a job search, sometimes you feel like you just don’t want to keep trying to find a job. Trying definitely is trying – to the nerves and spirit! One gets really sick of frustration and disappointment and what seems like no results for all your efforts.
I want to reassure you that this feeling is totally normal in a job search. Every client goes through it in one form or another and at various times. I have been there, done that, also.
I remember one night about 18 months into the job search from hell, complaining to my next-door neighbor about how frustrated and depressed and angry I was about my search. She came up with what to her seemed like useful suggestions about next steps for me – and I blew up! When I think back, I bless her for not throwing me out of her apartment. Instead, she listened to me vent the months of frustration, of fading self-confidence, of fear that I’d never find a job and be stuck in one that was toxic to my health, and of doubt that I had what it took to keep going.
That night, I began to develop a new way of approaching my job search. I learned that:
- I really needed to vent the negative thinking, to get it out of my system where it was poisoning me. Up until then, I’d put on the “happy face” and “positive attitude” because I thought I had to. I pushed down my negative feelings thinking they would go away if I ignored them. Instead they grew and grew and grew and grew until they were crippling me. When I began to talk about my frustrations, I cleared out the negativity and made room for true positive feelings, such as willingness to move forward, and confidence that I would find the right job for me.
- My expectations were tied to a false linear “cause and effect” model of job search. If I had a great resume and cover letter, I’d get an interview. If I was qualified for a job, I’d get an interview. If I did everything that everyone suggested, I’d find a job. But I didn’t get interviews and I didn’t get a job for two long years.
The core mistake I made was in thinking I would find a job on my terms, that I was in charge of how and when it would happen. I was attached to doing very specific things and resisted doing things I thought wouldn’t work.
I realized that perhaps I was missing serendipitous opportunities by being so focused on what I wanted to happen. I came to see that I needed a little humility, to accept that I had things to learn about job search and about myself. I started to say “yes” to suggestions rather than “no.” And then I followed the suggestions, regardless of my fear or doubt or contempt for that suggestion. I started following every lead, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. I learned to “leave no stone unturned” in my job search.
Specifically, I paid attention to people who had gotten jobs and took their advice. One specific suggestion was that I reach out to a former employer to tell him that I was looking for a new job. I hadn’t been in touch with him for a while, and we had parted on not such great terms. So of course it was scary to contact him! I did it despite the fear. And wouldn’t you know? He is the person who directed me to the recruiter for the position I ended up getting – my “right fit” work as Executive Director of City Harvest in New York City, where I stayed happily for 11 years.
Openness and willingness are two key attitudes for job search. These attitudes helped me recognize opportunities when they appeared, allowed me to move forward despite fears and doubts, and gave me permission to vent like a pressure cooker when necessary. I have seen clients finally get jobs when they have adopted these attitudes. They started to see and think and act outside the box, and then the world could come to them.
The best job search attitude to have is one of confidence – confidence that I will reach my goal. It’s the opposite of “trying.” When I keep trying, I am admitting the possibility of failure. And I implicitly have a time frame and agenda attached to whatever I’m trying for. That creates such enormous pressure that it’s no wonder we buckle under it.
Today, I have many intentions and dreams, toward which I work every day. I simply gave up the time line and the pressure that brings. And I gave up the idea that I know how “it” should all turn out, and that I will only get my desired outcome if I work diligently and in a certain way. I do the next thing I can, check to see if it’s aligned with my intention, and bid “adieu” to those thoughts that start pressuring me to “do more.”
You, too, can stop “trying.” You will find your “right fit” work. I’d love to hear how it goes!