How to Deal With an Extended Job Search

Job loss is disruptive and tragic. Finding a job is uncomfortable and riddled with rejection. In a previous edition of Dick Bolles, “What Color is Your Parachute?”, he included a page with “no” written all over it, and at the end of the page the single word “yes”. His point? Rejection is part of the job search process. Dealing with the rejection can take its toll on you emotionally and physically.

Recently, a panel of three counseling experts spoke to a group of career professionals on the subject of dealing with an extended job search. They gave great advice from a counseling perspective and great resources – which I have included at the end of this article.

Depression

The first step is to determine if you are showing symptoms of depression. In David Burns book, Feeling Good, he has included a short depression test. If you are depressed, it is something to get treated quickly. It will not only show up in your daily life, but it will also show during the job search process or worse – in the interview. Depression could wreck your entire job search.

Balance

A few years ago a young man went into a mall in North Dakota and started shooting. Earlier that day he had been fired from his job. A 60-year old man who found out he was going to be laid off from NASA walked into his bosses office and shot his boss and then himself. We hear these kind of stories all too frequently. These people have wrapped their entire life to their work. When their job is yanked out from under them, their unbalanced lives topple. Desperation kicks in.

Work is just one aspect of your life. THERE IS MORE TO LIFE THAN YOUR JOB. Family, professional development, recreation, friends, your spiritual outlet, etc. lead to a well rounded life. When work ends – and it will eventually end – make sure you have a robust life centered around all aspects – not just work.

The Basics

When you are in a job search, it is imperative you get back to the basics.

· Job Search – get up each morning and “go to the office” (figuratively). Get dressed and get to work on finding a job.

· Network – 80% of job seekers find their job through networking. Go to two different networking events each week.

· Take Breaks – After you’ve reached about 4-6 hours, you should call it a day on your job search. Staring at a computer, working your network, and applying for jobs will burn you out. Do something physical – take a walk, ride your bike, shoot baskets for 45 minutes will help you clear your mind.

Career Change

Don’t rule out career change. One of the panelists spoke about an IT professional in his 50’s that had been laid off. He started exploring careers, and by taking the Campbell Interest Inventory, he scored “off the charts” for Aircraft Mechanic. A few years later, our speaker reported, he received an email from the man. He said he pinched himself each day when he walked into the hanger at his job as an Aircraft Mechanic!

Find your passion – and there are many assessments like The DISC w/Career Match, Strong, and Campbell that can help. Really explore childhood dreams and fantasies. Find the activities that you really lose track of time doing. Once you’ve identified your passions, figure out how you can make money doing it. Think outside the box, and look at all options.

Dealing with family and friends

Much like dealing with a chronic illness, family and friends may become uncomfortable, agitated, or withdraw. How can you deal with this? First, realize this is normal behavior. They are just as concerned (and possibly frightened) as you are. If they are nagging, try to encourage them to back off a bit. If you are distraught and inconsolable, try to steer clear of friends.

One of the panelists mentioned she had a client who was going through an extended job loss. He was very anxious about his spouse’s support. The Therapist brought in the client’s spouse to discuss with her the situation, and the spouse said “I would move under a bridge with you if it came to that.” With the “pressure off”, the man was able to find a job relatively soon after getting that relief.

You will work again

Statistically speaking, you WILL find another job. It will be quicker and easier if you have a positive outlook, get back to the basics, know your career options – even if it a career change, and get family and friend’s support. Although there will be rejection along the way, it only takes one “yes” to eradicate a page of “no’s”.

Recommended Resources:

Books:

· Feeling Good by David D. Burns, MD

· Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, PhD

· Authentic Happiness by Martin Seligman, PhD

· The Anxiety and Phobia Workbook by Edmond Bourne, PhD

· eBook: How to FINALLY Find What You Love to Do AND Get Paid For Doing It: The DEFINITIVE Guide to Finding and Successfully Pursuing Your Passion by Brian Kim