The job search is often long, grueling, and filled with constant disappointment. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of May 2003, there were almost 440,000 workers who have become so dejected that they are no longer looking for employment. This group encompasses everyone from blue collar employees to experienced professionals with graduate degrees. Many of these people have excellent qualifications, often possessing strong technical skills and managerial background.
They have become discouraged, feel defeated, or lack the emotional capacity to continue what seems to them an endless process of rejection. Some have decided to return to school in an attempt to change careers, while still others have opted to become consultants or launch their own businesses. Well, we are here to tell you that the job search is not hopeless. There is a light at the end of the tunnel – and it shines brightly.
When something doesn’t work, change it. It all begins with a change in attitude. If you have faith in yourself and your mission, and a belief that you will not fail, then you will be successful. You control your destiny through your attitude and your actions. Following are some key points to assist you in reviving a stalled job search.
- Change the way you are implementing your search. Often people become despondent and wonder why they keep meeting with failure when they keep doing exactly the same thing in the same way. Evaluate your methods. Determine where you are experiencing poor results, and where you have had success. If you want a different outcome, then you need to change what you’ve been doing. If you have been mailing large numbers of resumes and generating minimal results, then look for a different approach in reaching out to employers. If you have attempted informational interviewing as a networking approach, change your approach.
- If you have not had your resume professionally prepared, do so. Don’t try to save money in this important area. You are not an expert at resume writing, and software programs don’t teach you how to express yourself properly, use appropriate diction, or what to include – or leave out.
- Seek out a mentor. Mentors will often give you a shove in the right direction or objective guidance that clears your vision and gives you impetus. Mentoring has always been an integral ingredient in career growth and advancement. It is a form of “thinking together,” and provides you an advisor that offers helpful direction, ideas, and contacts. A landmark article in a 1978issue of theHarvard Business Review entitled “Everyone Who Makes it Has a Mentor,” pointed out quite succinctly that we all require mentors to be successful.
- Expand your scope of industry and career options. If, for example, you have been a teacher, but can find no teaching jobs, then consider opportunities in administration, sales, training and development, program development, non-profit or human service involvement, project management, or designing/writing training materials. Remember, that whatever you do next will be based upon skills and talents developed previously. That does not necessarily mean you must do exactly what you have been doing, nor do it in the same industry. Skills are transferable and accumulative.
- Do volunteer work. Offer assistance in your house of worship or the community in which you live. Assist a non-profit organization or help in a fundraising event. You will meet others who might be valuable in your networking efforts, or otherwise benefit you in your search. It will also help you to remain productive, feel useful, and maintain a positive attitude.
- Look for opportunities to do interim consulting or project work, contact temporary or contract employment agencies, or consider doing part-time retail work. When you are working you have a better sense of your value, your sense of self-worth is increased, and you are less likely to compromise your values by taking the wrong full time position.
- Don’t believe it when any large firm tells you they are not hiring. It is quite unusual that a large company would not have a need for qualified people in at least one of their departments. So if you wish to work for a company, avoid Human Resource managers and go to the manager or executive in the area that you are targeting. Call that person directly and ask for a meeting to introduce yourself, whether or not they had an advertised opening.
- Expand your network of personal contacts. Make a list of those companies you would specifically wish to target and determine the name of the hiring authority. Call that person directly and ask for an advice meeting to discuss how you might target their industry. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce and look in local news and business publications to determine companies that are new in your area, expanding operations, or in a start up phase. Call and ask for a networking meeting with a key manager or executive rather than sending a resume.
Good jobs are available. However, conducting a job search in the current economy takes time, endurance, resourcefulness, and the ability to handle rejection and bounce back. Rely on family, your house of worship, and friends for support. They can be instrumental in helping you maintain a positive attitude and a continued sense of optimism.
“Author Lawrence Alter is president of L.D.A. Enterprises, Ltd.; a Minneapolis based outplacement and career management firm. He is a recognized expert in career growth techniques. Send ideas or questions via email to: LDA@EmploymentClinic.com. Website address: www.EmploymentClinic.com”