Keeping an Even KEEL
The first and most important step you can take on your job search journey is to get your mind in a good place. You can have a fantastic resume and an unbelievable network of contacts. You may even be in a field that is hot with plenty of competition among employers for talent. None of these matters if your attitude is clouded by fear, low self-esteem, bitterness, impatience and a host of other negative feelings. These feelings will manifest themselves in low activity levels and ineffective interactions with your network or employers. These will only serve to sabotage you getting a better job faster. And while a healthy attitude is the first step in your journey, you will need it to be with you during the entire process.
You can think of it like the keel on a sailboat. Without the keel, a sailboat would capsize pretty easily as the winds and currents cause it to lean this way and then that way. And like the keel, you will need it for your entire journey to smooth out the ride. The lows can be terrifyingly low and the highs can be deceptively high, so balancing them will keep your job search on course and keep your head above water.
Maybe you have experienced applying online for dozens of open positions and then never heard back, or recruiters who tell you you’re the perfect candidate and then they never call you back, or semi-random networking that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere. Maybe you’ve been a finalist several times and you’re consistently the second-place candidate. There is a lot of disappointment on this journey. If you’re reading this right now and nodding your head and thinking “that’s me”, you’re in good company, because that’s pretty much everybody!
So what’s the key to getting to a better mental place? Overcoming Fear, Confusion, and Bitterness.
Fear is mostly grounded in the nagging thought that this is not going to end well for me. We play negative tapes like, “I’m too old (or to young)”, “I don’t have the right skills employers want”, or “if my last employer didn’t need me why would anyone else”, etc. Fear is amplified when it is accompanied by a strong sense of urgency resulting in Panic. Panicking can lead to total paralysis in some cases or making some extremely poor choices in others. If you are feeling this way now, please slow down a little and don’t make any big decisions. In Lessons 4 and 5 we are going to see how you can recapture your mojo by knowing what you’re great at and how to talk about it in a way that doesn’t sound like bragging. You will move from paralyzed to energized.
Confusion is rooted in not knowing what to do. You could have all the motivation in the world but if you’re unclear on the process and steps you should (and shouldn’t) be taking, that can lead to a lot of wasted time and energy on things that aren’t going to help you get a better job faster. Having a map of how to get from Point A to Point B is absolutely vital to minimizing the time you’re in job transition. Later modules in this course will be your guide so you will know how to organize and execute your job search. Confusion will be replaced with clarity and confidence.
Bitterness is perhaps the most insidious of the three. Nelson Mandela is credited with wisely observing that, “Bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for your enemy to die.” When we’re angry or bitter we are saying to ourselves we are justified in feeling how we do. How we were treated simply wasn’t fair and if people knew how badly I got screwed they’d understand. So we waste time explaining to people what happened and how we were wronged. But just like Nelson Mandela said, the only person you’re hurting is yourself. We stay stuck in a mental place that isn’t healthy. If you need to vent, grieve, cry – whatever it is you need to do, do it. Just do it BEFORE you start meeting with people. Letting go of the past and focusing on what’s in front of you is the only route to take.
K now you will find another job.
E motional ups and downs are natural.
E xpect the best from yourself and others.
L et the past go.
Let’s pause for a few minutes and do an honest assessment of your mental state coming into this course.
- How long have you been looking for a new role?
- What do you feel is the dominant emotion you have been feeling recently?
- What do you feel when you are meeting new people and telling them you’re looking for a new job?
- What do you think has gone well in your search so far?
- What do you think could be improved?
- Are you projecting confidence to others?
- Are you discouraged or excited about what might be next for you in your career?