How do you re-energize yourself when you’re hitting that job search wall?
Posted by Molly Wendell // in Job Search
When I was a senior in college, I decided to run the Los Angeles Marathon. I ran fairly regularly, did my weekend 20-mile training runs, and followed a workout and diet pretty religiously. Race day was fast approaching. I felt like I was ready. I was wearing my favorite shorts, t-shirt and sweatshirt. Walkman in hand (remember those pre-iPod days?), the gun sounded, and off I went, .2 miles into a 26.2 mile race. I had set some goals for my split times and was meeting them with ease – on track to complete the race in about 3 ½ hours. Things were going smoothly. Right up to mile 22, I was just sailing through, feeling great. Then all of a sudden, it hit me. Or rather I hit it. The wall. The infamous wall. As much as I’d heard about this so-called wall – that feeling of elation followed immediately of desperation, and the inability to go on – I never really could grasp the concept until it happened to me. And now I get it. And it’s a feeling like nothing I’d ever experienced. And hadn’t since. Until, I found myself in a longer-than-anticipated job search.
One week, you’re headed down the path. And things are going great. The next, all of your prospects have seemingly dried up and you’ve hit the proverbial wall. Welcome to the marathon of today’s job search. How do you recover? How do you power through and finish the race? How do you re-energize yourself when your body is tired and your mind is in agreement?
Some say in a marathon, the physical effort is tremendous, but it’s the mental effort that will carry you across the finish line. And the same holds true for job search.
Here are some tips to help you re-energize a stagnant or wall-induced job search.
Venture down a new path. Look at some other industries and see what might be exciting. Get networked in those industries. Talk to people. Find out who’s who. Figure out whether this is an industry in which you want to be a part. Don’t be so focused on the fact that you have to find a job tomorrow. How many opportunities are you going to miss out on because you took a little detour? In today’s economy, probably not many. How many new opportunities will you identify because you decided to venture down another path? You just might be pleasantly surprised!
Venture down your current path – with a twist. I was talking to Fred today. He’s focused on Biotechnology. He knows a lot of people in this area. Too many people perhaps? His challenge is that he’s talked to everyone he knows, and doesn’t know what to do now. Fred needs to re-invigorate his search. Part of me thinks…Hey Fred, Biotechnology is a BIG industry. What are the segments within Biotech? A quick google search and I found 9 segments within Biotech. Breaking these down further, I found another 54 sub-segments that Fred could investigate. Fred needs to take a look at those sub-segments he’s already familiar with…and start to tackle the other ones. Because he’s a “Biotech” guy, he’ll have a better chance of transitioning into one of those sub-segments than someone who has no background in Biotech.
Get some help. If you’re doing your job search alone, you are missing out. Call on fellow job seekers for help. If you have the benefit of outplacement, go to the office and spend time with others. Attend the presentations. Participate in the Work Teams. If you’re not part of a Work Team (also called Accountability Teams), then find one and join it. If you can’t find one, get some fellow job seekers and create your own. And I’m not talking about getting together for a pity party. I’m talking real work teams – people who can and will hold you accountable for your job search. Whatever you do, don’t try to do this job search alone! This is not an independent study and you get no extra credit for doing all of the work yourself!
Sometimes you need to take a break, and get some balance in your life. Your job search should not be a 24/7 endeavor. Just like the people who work all of the time are a little boring. So are the people who job-search all of the time.
I remember Tony’s search. Tony was in no rush to find a job. He had a great severance package and wanted to take his time. He golfed. He vacationed. He went to dinner parties. And in between all of that, Tony had more interesting opportunities come his way than anyone I knew.
Here are some other things you might want to do…to get a little balance in your life.
Get a hobby. About a year into my search, I was watching a figure skating championship on television, and made a decision. I want to do that. I want to skate through the ice – feeling free and undaunted. Never mind that I hadn’t taken an ice skating lesson in 30 years. I found a place that had lessons for adults and signed up. Once a week for ten weeks, I got on that ice and didn’t think once about my job search. And I did it. I did that ½ axle without falling down! I also met some very nice people who were encouraging, and much better than me on the ice!
Brush up on a language. Did that single year of high school French class just not do the trick for you? Forget Rosetta Stone. Go to your local community college and take a class with others. Plan a dinner at a great French restaurant for everyone to go – and speak only French!
Volunteer. Grab your hammer and head over to the local Habitat for Humanity. Volunteer to work on the next project this weekend. You’ll meet some people, and be part of a team.
Take a class. About a year into my search, my mom invited me to a Bible class. I told her I had no intention of hanging out with a bunch of Bible thumpers. But, as she so accurately pointed out, I had nothing else to do. Guilty as charged, I met her at the Bible class the following day. For the next two hours, I was on the edge of my seat – mesmerized by the teacher. Kevin was part historian, part geographer, part religion teacher and part comedian. Who knew the Bible could be so fascinating?! I went back week after week. And seven years later, I ended up finishing the entire Bible. I often look back at my job search and know that had I not been in it, I would have never taken the time to go through this class. As I look back at all of the things I’ve accomplished both work-wise and personally, this stands alone as number one. And I have being out of work for 2 years (and 3 days) to thank!
Don’t let the marathon of today’s job search wear you out. Having that balance and re-energizing yourself when you need it will give you the endurance to finish the race victoriously.
And whatever happened with the marathon? Those last 4.2 miles were all in my mind. The physical body gave out, and it took every amount of mental strength I could muster. I talked myself into the fact that I could run four miles with ease. Three miles, that’s nothing. Two miles, who couldn’t do that? One mile, I was running that when I was eight. And with the finish line in sight, and the motivation from the crowds of people lined up along the course – clapping and screaming “You can do it. Keep going. You’re almost there.” I did it. I crossed that finish line. And I have the medal to remind me that many things in life are challenging. And the combination of being strong both physically and mentally, along with support from others will get you through virtually anything.