I’ve worked with hundreds of job seekers, and the place where they get tripped up isn’t a tactical one. It’s not about their resume, their cover letter, or their LinkedIn profile. It’s an insidious beast, one that they don’t see coming and that gets them every time. It comes without warning, and it puts them in a throat lock.
Here it is, the piece that destroys almost any search in a blink of an eye: ignoring the emotional side of this process.
Look, any sane person would (and does) have strong emotional reactions to the job search process. Anger, fear, desperation, bitterness.
Essentially all of us know that work-life defines a core piece of ourselves, and when it’s in jeopardy, when we slip into a state where we’re not in the driver’s seat of this essential part of ourselves, it’s tough. In fact, it’s downright threatening and terrifying.
Expressing and processing these reactions to a job search is healthy. It’s what keeps our heads above water. It’s what allows us to access the other dimensions of ourselves: the strong, resilient, optimistic, creative, forward-focused parts.
So, in order to get to those useful parts, you’ve got to move through the muck.
It’s tough to do that processing with your usual go-to supports. Your family, particularly your partner, has a stake in your financial success, and if you’re both unhinged by the job search process, there’s no one to set the stabilizing, “it’ll be okay” tone.
Certainly, it doesn’t help to hide your process from your family since it’s a key part of what you’re doing now. What’s the typical communication pattern in your family when you have tense topics to discuss? Do you tend to have a candid conversation about how to support each other? Explore the best way to share what you’re experiencing? Ask about their needs while sharing your own? Consider the best route to having meaningful and supportive conversations with your family.
Your friends can be resources, especially those friends who have been in a search themselves. Think about who can shift their focus to hear all of what you’re saying, who can be receptive to your venting and your dark side without placating you or backing away slowly?
Who do you know in these categories?
Compassionate, big hearted, open friends Pastors, rabbis, and faith-based leaders Therapists, coaches, and other helping professionals Job search and employment specialists (through your local workforce center, library, alumni office) Job search and networking groups
This final category can be particularly useful because if you can find a supportive community of other job seekers, you can share both the mechanics of a job search (what worked with a specific phone screen, for example) and the emotional scope (how you recovered from a bout of anxiety).
Many people find their coworkers to be anchors for them, and if you’re in a job search, those folks usually aren’t accessible to you. If you’re conducting a job search while employed, it’s hard to share details about that search with people whom you’ll eventually leave behind. If you’re already unemployed, the logistics of gathering people from the most recent place you worked can be difficult, plus the familiar cohesion that used to nourish you can be lacking.
Connect with people who can support you through this process.
Vent. Express yourself. Listen to others’ stories so that you know you’re not alone.
It’ll make all the difference in your results.
Maggie Graham | Coach
Career coach Maggie Graham banishes Credential Gremlins in her forthcoming book Skip the Next Degree: Career Change without Debt and Despair. She points mid-career professionals in the direction of their next steps and defines a road map to take them there. Job seekers will find an ally when they seek support for landing their next positions.
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