When the going gets tough…
Have you noticed how different you are when you do things for fun – such as joining a family game night or a healthy debate with friends? You probably enjoy the experience because you are not overly dependant on the outcome. Now consider how different this is when you are job hunting. Especially when it’s critical that you succeed. This could be because you desperately need a (new) job to be able to pay your bills. Or perhaps because being in your current job is affecting your sanity and wellbeing. If you are currently in this kind of situation, finding a new job is likely to be so important to you that every disappointment or rejection will deeply affect you. In order to persevere until you find a job that fulfils your needs, you need to make the most of your internal strengths and resources. Here are five ways that you can do this and build job-hunting resilience.
Building Job-Hunting Resilience: Practise Self-Compassion
In the book, Resilient: How to Grow an Unshakable Core of Calm, Strength and Happiness, Rick Hanson and Forrest Hanson discuss the importance of practising self-compassion for wellbeing. This is the ability to show concern for our feelings and having the desire to relieve suffering. If you are feeling low and upset about having to look for a job, it is important to acknowledge these feelings and to give yourself space to work through them; either by discussing them with a trusted person and/or expressing them in writing by journaling. Hanson and Hanson also explain how you can develop the art of self-compassion with three simple steps.
- Bring past experiences of showing compassion to others to mind
- Focus on these experiences and feel them as fully as you can
- Apply the same attitude of compassion to yourself
Building Job-Hunting Resilience: Focus On What You Can Control
Besides showing concern for your own feelings, job hunting is all about taking action. If your strategy is to simultaneously apply for as many jobs as possible, through as many channels as you can, you could quickly feel overwhelmed. After all, if you consider job boards, job matching platforms, recruitment agencies, LinkedIn and direct applications via company websites, it adds up to a lot. It’s also unlikely that all your applications will be of high enough quality, even if you have all the time in the world. In my online course “Finding a Job in a Global Meltdown“, participants are taken through the areas of job hunting that they can control and provided with clear and actionable guidance on how they can maximise their efforts in these areas. One piece of advice focuses on the amount and the quality of time that you spend on your job hunting activities.
As busy (working) parents it is of crucial importance that you carve out time for job hunting and schedule it in your diary. After that, seek the support you need from people around you so you can dedicate this time with as few interruptions as possible to your job search.
- Look at the areas of job hunting that you cannot control
- List at least three areas of job hunting that you can control
- For each, ask yourself, “Am I making the most of the control that I have on this?”
Building Job-Hunting Resilience: Track Progress And Celebrate Little Wins
Another way to ensure you remain motivated through your job search is to track your progress and celebrate your wins. Set yourself achievable targets for completing job hunting activities and reward yourself when you do. It is also important to celebrate partial wins. After many rejections and non-responses, one of my clients recently wrote to me celebrating the fact that she finally got a response and even made it through to the final round of interviews. Despite not being offered this particular position we reflected on what went well and what did not work for her this time. In doing this, it became clear that there was nothing wrong with her application but that she simply did not have the very specific market experience that they were looking for.
When it comes to job hunting, accepting that sometimes you are just simply not the best person for the role is important. At the same time, in some cases, you can genuinely be too good for a job. Although you might feel frustrated not to be offered the opportunity, being turned down might be the best thing that happens to you.
Use a job application tracker to keep track of your job-hunting activities. Here’s one that I have created for Sassy Mama readers.
Building Job-Hunting Resilience: Be Thankful
I have personal experience with this. A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to transition from my career as a social worker to being a corporate lawyer. I convinced myself that if I wanted and willed it enough, it would happen. I focussed all my attention and energy on this and, at times, completely forgot to embrace the good things that I had going on for me at that moment in time. By doing this, I gave every vacancy that I applied for way too much importance and way too much power over me.
Reflecting back on these times, I fear that sometimes it may have made me come across as desperate. I won’t go as far as saying “treat them mean, keep them keen” when it comes to job hunting, but coming across as being confident and deserving goes a long way.
To remain resilient in your job hunt, remember all the good things that you have going on. Your health, the love for and from your family, a nice meal that you enjoyed, listening to music that cheers you up; whatever it is. Remember the perfect job can make things better in many ways but our lives consist of much more than just work. Your identity is more than what you do for a living. Take time to remind yourself of all these things and celebrate them.
Before beginning your job search activities on any given day write down at least three things that you are thankful for.
Building Job-Hunting Resilience: Have A Support Network
Surround yourself with people who treat you compassionately, offer constructive feedback, make you smile and help you to see the bigger picture. This is especially important when you might feel like every rejection is a confirmation that you are not competent and capable. Critical friends, or a career coach, can help you to work out how you can use the information you get from the rejections to improve on your application techniques.
We all know that scouting for a job can be challenging at the best of times. In this economic downturn caused by a global pandemic, it can feel a lot harder! At times, you may feel like there is no point in even trying. Of course, there is only one way you can be 100% sure that you will not find a job – by not applying for one at all.
It’s when the odds are stacked against your chances of finding work (with fewer opportunities and more people looking for them) that you have to try harder and be smarter in your approach. The above suggestions can help you to build and maintain the resilience needed to persevere with your job hunt in these unprecedented times. All the best!