We’ve recently experienced one of the most difficult employment periods in history. Whether you’re a recent college graduate or an employee looking for the Holy Grail, here are some ideas to simplify your job search:
Get your mind in shape. Just as you’d want to be in peak physical shape before a big game, it’s important to be in a good frame of mind before a job search. Consider beginning an exercise routine, reading a self-help book, finding an outlet that you enjoy, eating well, getting plenty of sleep, and meditating to make yourself feel better and to reduce stress. A positive attitude is key.
Ignore the law of averages. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, employed people work an average of 7.5 hours per day and get 8.67 hours of sleep. If these figures don’t exactly apply to you, what makes you think that national unemployment averages do? So, next time you hear that it’s tough to find a job, remember, the unemployment rate is only a broad indicator of the job market. Even in a lousy job market, people get job offers every day. It may as well be you.
Don’t fool yourself. Some people think, “My phone will start ringing when I begin my job search.” Yeah, sure. When was the last time someone called you with a job opportunity? Dreams, unlike eggs, don’t hatch from sitting on them.
Cash isn’t the only currency. Some people forgo opportunities if they don’t provide big bucks. The fact is, every experience is an investment in your future. If you leave your job, you’ll take that experience with you and cash it in for a bigger prize.
If the shoe fits. Put yourself in the employer’s shoes. Would you rather hire someone referred by a person you trust or receive a resume from someone unknown? So, network…network…network.
Are you playing bumper cars? Unfortunately, some treat networking like a game of bumper cars in which progress is measured by the number of people they run into rather than the quality of the underlying relationships. Simply put, just handing out more business cards and adding more friends to Facebook or LinkedIn is “notworking.” These “notworkers” don’t understand the importance of building long-lasting relationships; instead, they’ll reach out to others only when they need something themselves. And then they’re surprised when their requests produce little. Don’t wait until you desperately need a network to begin developing one. Networks are built on trust, respect, and personal chemistry — that doesn’t happen overnight. In contrast to bumper-car notworking, members of a well-developed network will be more likely to offer advice, provide an informational interview, or grant a referral.
Have an indoor picnic. If you planned a picnic and it started raining, you’d bring the picnic indoors. So, if Plan “A” doesn’t go exactly as expected, be prepared to roll with the punches. Don’t be bullheaded. You may have to modify your expectations. Your new job may require a longer commute, lower salary, or accepting a different type of job than the one you had your sights on. This is your Plan “B.” It doesn’t mean you should settle for the first opportunity that comes along or, worse, sell your soul. It does mean you may have to compromise. Remember, broadening your search doesn’t mean you have to accept any job that is offered, but you should give serious consideration to any offer you receive. Maybe Plan “B” will work out better after all.
Are you swimming against the tide? Rip currents are powerful channel currents of water flowing away from the shore. Many people swept out to sea try to fight their way back by swimming against the current. That’s how people drown, from exhaustion. The fact is, people who remain calm and swim parallel to the shore swim out of the current and to safety. The same is true with a job search. Remember to go with the flow.
How do you measure success? Some people beat themselves up if they don’t get a job in a week. Like the legendary football coach Vince Lombardi, I believe you don’t have to worry about winning games if you focus on fundamentals such as blocking and tackling. So, don’t concentrate on getting the job; instead, focus on the quality activity that you generate. Every good interview or meeting with a member of your network brings you one step closer to your goal. Make sure to treat yourself to something special for moving one step closer to the finish line. You deserve it.
It takes two to tango. Some applicants feel that potential employers hold all the cards during the hiring process. The fact is, organizations need great talent as much as you want a great employer. Be selective. It’ll be a win-win proposition.
If you believe you can’t, you won’t. A job search doesn’t have to be a terrible experience. It’s the beginning of an exciting new opportunity. Have fun. Reconnect with members of your network. And remember your experience so that you can lend a helpful hand to someone in need once you’ve landed your great new job.
I would say good luck, but you won’t need it. You’ll be making your own.
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Kate Nasser, The People-Skills Coach says
The wisdom and images you create in this job search post speak logic that will inspire all to stay active when job hunting.
I think the toughest part of job hunting is keeping your morale high and your down-to-earth post uplifts — yes it does.
Ironic yet true and I will RT on Twitter for many to read.
Terri Klass says
This is a very informative post! I particularly connect with the need to establish relationships beyond the social media sites. That is a wonderful point.
My new favorite catch phrase: “Dreams, unlike eggs, don’t hatch by sitting on them”. LOVE it!
People need to hear these words in this job market, and during any trying situation really. Thanks so much.
Marc Kauffmann says
“Networking begins with value.”
By carefully following this methodology, I uncovered today that an Assistant Secretary of Commerce recently joined my Linked In network.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Kate / Terri / Rossana / Marc
Thanks so much for your comments. I agree that one of the toughest parts of a job search is keeping your spirits up. That’s why it’s so important to focus on your level of activity rather than the final result –a job. When you focus on generating new activity every day, you can “congratulate” yourself on making progress. Every time you set up a meeting, interview or write a thank you note, you’re one step closer to the finish line.
Career Sherpa says
Mind over matter! Just do it! It is possible if you believe it! Turn lemons into lemonade! All these messages come through in your post.
Thanks for being inspiring!
Dan Fonseca says
It’s true that today’s world is different from the one many know. I think it’s one thing to start out in this environment versus having known both economic situations; the current one and pre recession.
In my young age, I can only speak for the college kids. We have been painted a traditionally “bleak” image for the rest of our life. Economists and professionals of all sorts speak of a lower quality of life and elusive retirement. I believe this has forced my generation to take a good look inside and figure out what our properties are. Maybe a simpler life is a good one?
I only have my perspective that a lot of my peers share. I would be interested to know how others who have tasted both ends feel about moving forward? Will things return as they were or are we on a new, exciting path? How do we feel about the future?
Either way, we have to stay positive with our future job search and lives!
Great post 🙂
Frank Sonnenberg says
Hannah / Dan
Thanks so much for your comments.
Dan, PLEASE keep the faith. Every time we go into a recession people say that the world is coming to an end. That was not the case then and is not the case now. My next blog will be about the importance of being positive. I should have it finished by month’s end. Stay tuned 🙂
Sarah @RaisingCEOKids says
Fabulous article and I especially love the last line – You’ll be making your own luck! So true! In life and in business we make our own luck!
Frank Sonnenberg says
Thanks sooooo much for your kind words Sarah. You made my day!
I can’t hardly begin to rank or rate your posts as each holds unique value. But if ever I could label one as the most TIMELY, this would be it for me.
I joined the job-seeking market last Monday. Again timely as it preceded a planned week of vacation. I came back today – refreshed and optimistic, excited yet anxious, energetic but a bit overwhelmed – I found your latest writing to be exacting in it’s depiction of the state of affairs and its offerings of advice.
You always inspire and tell often under appreciated truths, but it is when you turn my head to focus on a lesser detail of the subject matter that you give me those “A-ha” moments I cherish.
Before I read this I was wondering why I wasn’t worried, given the gloom and doom I had heard from peers and knew from friends about ‘being unemployed today’. Yet I am so happy to be out there, free to explore every fitting opportunity – even if we are in the lowest of low tides.
I have confidence in myself and my talents and indeed hope to make my own “luck”. After all, it can’t be much different or much less rewarding than surfing hurricanes.
You always need a Plan B, but it should never deter you from chasing down that true wave of choice.
A sincere Thank You, again and again.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Sorry to hear about your situation Marc. I’ve learned that every thing in life happens for a reason. The problem is, you only learn that in retrospect.
As I said in the post . . . networking is job one. Please give me a shout at your convenience. I’ll help you any way that I can.
Meredith Bell says
Outstanding post with solid advice for job-seekers, Frank. You reply to Marc above with “I’ll help you any way that I can” ties in beautifully with the paragraph in your post about playing bumper cars. If a person can maintain an attitude of service to others (as opposed to needy and desperate), it’s amazing the responses you can get. A focus on adding value and asking how you can help someone else goes a long way to building trust and strong relationships.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Meredith — Thanks for your comment. One of the most valuable lessons that I’ve learned in life is what goes around comes around. First, helping people makes you feel good. Second, the recipient may return the favor in-kind one day. Last, the worst thing that can happen is that you’ve accumulated karma points by making a difference in someone else’s life.
Terry Del Percio says
Hi Frank – great reminders. Above all, people need to be supported and given hope that things will get better and that they have the power to change their lives. They do. We all do.
I am sometimes disheartened by how quickly some people give up. Their own perception of working really hard on their job search is somewhat off the mark. I had one client recently tell me that he is giving up and trying to find a totally different type of position even though he really loves his work (scientist). He told me he has been looking for 3 years.
When we got specific, I found out that he had “applied online” to approx. 8 positions, had interviews at 4 (not bad) and got rejected. No networking to speak of. This isn’t nearly enough activity and the focus must be on networking in combination with other avenues.
We have revamped his approach and he has miraculously gotten a second wind. He has so much talent and passion about his work…I know he will be successful if he builds up his resilience, reaches out to people and keeps on going.
Leyane Jerejian says
Truly inspiring. You never fail to consistently put into words real truth. Your posts have value beyond words because they change the way I think.
When I quit my job and moved seven months ago, you better believe I had a lot of fear. However, I was cautiously optimistic. I had faith, I remained open minded, true to myself, and I did the footwork.
Swim with the current- priceless advice for life and job searching! The current led me to a far better job than I could have conceived.
Yes, make your own luck- but fear not the unchartered waters!
Well said Frank!
Frank Sonnenberg says
Great advice Terry. I find that people often confuse worrying with working. That’s why I encourage people to measure positive activity rather than focus solely on the end result. I also love your advice about documenting activity. When people start a weight loss regimen they’re often surprised after documenting their eating habits.
Frank Sonnenberg says
Leyane, The highest compliment that someone can give me (a writer) is that I’m making a difference in your life. Thank YOU for making my day 🙂 Frank
In re: “…helping anyway you can”
You have no idea how much you’ve already helped as I’ve been an avid blog (and book) reader since the onset. Your insights remain priceless gems carved from years of “I’ve been there”, but reading is only half of the opportunity that exists – we need to act on the words as well.
PS – “cancel, cancel, cancel” works great. 🙂
This is an excellent article and very well written and presented. I agree that your insights are priceless gems and much needed during these times of unemployment.
Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom. Lau
Frank Sonnenberg says
Marc / Laureen Thanks so much for your comments.
Marc, truth be told I took a positive thinking course many moons ago. One of our assignments was to say, “cancel cancel”, to ourself, every time a negative thought came into our mind for a week. The exercise was eye opening.
Lau, I’m so glad that the post rings as true in South Africa as it does in the states. Thanks for your kind thoughts.
Lamar Morgan says
Sometimes thinking outside-the-box helps to save time and money. For example, here are a few time-savers:
1) Stop mailing paper resumes’. Instead, post your resume’ to your Linkedin profile and let interested parties download it via the free BoxNet app.
2) Just avoid ALL online applications connected to applicant tracking software. This software pimps you for profit by screening you out of competition and gets paid by the employer to do so. If the online form says “Power by Taleo,” at the bottom, for example, stay away.
3) Avoid job fairs. Why? Because chances are very good the folks you want to see won’t bother to show up. More than likely what you will find is an over-abundance of MLM business opportunities – all designed to separate you from what little money you have on which to live.
What should you do that is likely beneficial and not being done by the majority of the job-seeking public?
1) Start using “landing pages” – like About.Me – to spread your VALUE?
2) Create a Needs Sheet from your landing page. Want to see an example? Visit http://budurl.com/TheNeedsSheet.
3) Spread news of your Needs Sheet with with a simple link address on a Post-It Note. This is a lot more effective (and honest) than passing out business cards when you are actually unemployed. If you don’t have to “fake it till you make it,” why go to the expense to engage in that kind of behavior?