As a career coach I work heavily with folks navigating the world of career transition and job change, often for a number of different individual reasons. For some, it’s about moving on to a career that appreciates and integrates more creativity. For others, it’s about getting back onto the job market after a period of involuntary unemployment. Maybe it’s about fulfilling a life-long dream of doing something completely different. And for others, it’s simply about finding something that doesn’t drain the lifeblood out of them each day and cause nervous sweats on the subway each morning (been there…).
The one thing I see in common with a number of these people is a feeling that they’ve lost control, and don’t know where to start to regain that. Sure, they may have opted to leave their jobs or careers on their own accord, but many feel that, even with that, they were in a sense pushed out by changes in the organization or their role that ultimately no longer made it bearable day-to-day. And getting your job search off the ground from a place of defeat, angst, frustration or hopelessness is no way to start the reinvention process.
Change is the only constant. You’ve heard that. It’s also one of the few things that we simultaneously do, and do not, have control over. And even when you don’t have control of the circumstances of change, you most certainly always have control over your response to it, how much you worry or agonize over the possible outcomes, and how you choose to utilize the information you’ve been dealt.
I did a presentation last November to graduate students at Pace University on “Empowerment & Your Job Search”. I can tell you six ways from Sunday how to write a fan-freakin’-tastic resume or cover letter, or access the gems of the hidden job market. And I will…later. But part of positioning yourself for success in your job search goes beyond implementing the technical tools that promote you as the ideal candidate. It’s necessary to create awareness around what the hell is going on inside of us during this whole process of change and transition. And often times when we fail to do that from the get-go, the reality sneaks up on us. You know those days where you think, “Screw this… I’m going to blow off this search business and go listen to some Sade and drink cheap chardonnay (forget that it’s 10am…)” Again (been there).
So how do you stay motivated in the change process? It’s about taking back the control of your situation, and really truly believing that you do, in fact, have control. It’s easy to feel like you’re at the mercy of hiring managers and 23 year-old HR assistants. But you are the one in control of where you go, and what you do to get there, and even more importantly, how you treat yourself in the process.
Don’t listen to the media, your friends or anyone else who spews out a packaged response about what job searching is supposed to be like.
I don’t care if you have been unemployed for well over a year- you are not unmarketable, despite what the HR God(desses) like to say via the media. Your 5 or 10+ years of professional accomplishments and the skill sets you have built along the way do not simply disappear over a 12 month period. You may have to work a little harder to market yourself in some cases, but you are not UNmarketable. Someone who can’t perform the basic functions of the role is unmarketable. People become unemployed or underemployed for a number of reasons, and it’s not always because they’re terrible at their job.
Being in control also means you are jumping at the opportunity to take the reins and do everything you can to best position yourself as the qualified individual you are, and making sure that’s the message you’re sending in your personal brand. Taking control means you are out there making sure that your resume is the best it can be, that your cover letters are compelling and full of OOMPH!, and that your name is out there as a subject matter expert in your field via online and offline networking. If you’re not doing these things, then you will feel like you’re at the mercy of everyone else, because you’re probably not getting the results you had hoped for. Fortunately, it’s never too late to make those adjusments and take back the control.
Transition is great! Transition can be either the best or worst thing you ever put yourself through. And that is all determined by you – how you conduct your life and engage in your work each day, how you respond to challenges and opportunities, and how you treat yourself in the process.
Several weeks ago a job with a client I had fell through. My first instinct was to get upset, worry about making up the business, and super glue my face to the computer screen until I figured out a solution. Instead, I decided to take my bagel to Madison Square Park, do some people watching, and then walk across the Brooklyn Bridge in 90+ degree heat and take in the amazing skyline scene of NYC from the pier at Fulton Landing for the rest of the day. Some might call that inefficient use of my time. I call it the best decision I ever made. For me, it was about recharging and reconnecting with myself, slowing down, and finding the opportunity that was in there somewhere. And by chance, an amazing opportunity I had been waiting for presented itself… because we create opportunities like that sometimes when we slow down and embrace umcertainty! But that’s a story for another time…
My advice? Slow down. Recognize the opportunities in the cards you’ve been dealt, and then take back control of the situation by finding your creativity and playing that hand the best way you possibly can!