Let’s just say my plans for 2013 were a little higher than reality determined suitable. End of ’12 had a great contract job fall right in my lap. I couldn’t have scripted it better. Networking event, company looking for a Social Media Specialist, interviewed 48 hours later, hired that night. Life provides those “highs,” and December 5, 2012, was definitely one of those. I was on cloud 9 for a good while afterwards. Unfortunately, a couple months later, I was back where I’d been. Though the rest of the year didn’t get much better, there are a few tidbits of experience I can provide after 10 months out here in the wild. Now, you might look at some of these as being on the side of obvious, but when you’re looking up to where you were, it’s easy to forget.
- Trite but true: Someone’s always got it worse
Throughout this last year, for whatever reason I’ve been on the outside looking in on more than a few employment opportunities. Jobs I felt I should have had yet for whatever reason didn’t work out (too much experience/not enough experience/baldness/poor interviewer/could I be an asshole?). Get over it. I’ve had friends struggle with fundamental, existence-altering loss in one way or another; unexpected death in the family, divorce, separation, their long-time dog died, whatever. None of these things happened to me. What you’re going through, by comparison, matters little. This is a time when your perspective muscles, while admittedly tough to do, need to be exercised. It’s not a fun exercise at times, to be sure, but if you’re going to get from here to there, concentration and focus on that next step is paramount.
- Don’t expect your friends to come through for you
Let me clarify; fantasizing about a friend calling and telling you that your Dream Job just opened up somewhere is one thing. You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have such dreams. But being frustrated because you haven’t been forwarded any recent jobs by your friends simply isn’t fair. Your friends have their own lives to live, their own problems, their own jobs, their own battles. You can’t lie back and expect your buddies to hook you up. It’s YOUR job to get out there and make it happen. Through your own day-in, day-out effort, that’s when you start to see those unforeseen opportunities inexplicably fall in your lap. It IS pretty cool when it happens, and you have every right to credit yourself (and, of course, your friend) with the reason it became possible.
- It might take longer than you expected
You never know why you didn’t get selected for any of those jobs you applied or interviewed for. Could be one out of a thousand reasons. Doesn’t matter. And don’t bother trying to ask WHY you didn’t get the job; they won’t tell you. I’ve tried it and they’ve rarely responded. Lawsuits, you know? Best thing you can do is keep moving forward, correct any mistakes, don’t over-think it, and focus on the next opportunity. Unfortunately it might be awhile; they tend to come in bunches. Either way, it’s a war of attrition and you’re the first and last line of defense. This is where you need to remain strong-minded, strong-willed, and confident in your abilities. No one said it was going to be easy, and it certainly isn’t for me.
- Want to stay sane while you job search? Stay ACTIVE
Get out and DO STUFF. I can’t emphasize this enough. Do anything. Hiking, working out, Internet dating, whatever. Whether it’s taking up a new hobby, joining a group, or traveling, you can’t simply sit in your home watching Ellen re-runs, chowing Pringles and expect everything to get better. Setting aside the fact staying active is actually good for your health and probably something you should have been doing anyway, it’s also good for your self-esteem, especially in this type of life situation. Studies consistently show that getting outside and exercising regularly releases pain-reducing endorphins into your system, boosting your mood, and reducing rates of depression. (WebMD article) I can tell you from personal experience, it works. Not necessarily 24 hours a day but in the hours during and after, get your lungs and muscles some exercise, and your mood will follow. You might be jobless, but hey, those 6-pack abs can do wonders for that self-esteem.
- Become a fixture on the networking circuit
Okay, okay, I understand this might be the most obvious of the five realities I’ve presented. I’m still bringing it up because, for some, it’s also the toughest to do. Not everyone is good at going up to random strangers and establishing a mutually positive dialogue. I just lucked out, I suppose. I’m pretty good at it. The more you’re putting yourself out there and making the effort to helping others, the better chance you have to encounter someone who might have something available or know of one. I got my last job at a networking event hosted by online marketing influencer Lewis Howes. My buddy introduced me to someone who just happened to have available the job I was looking for. Turned out just the way I envisioned. I had to go out and get it, though. It wouldn’t have happened at all if I’d simply checked out jobs online — a chore I’m now near-convinced is a ridiculous waste of time.
There are always exceptions to the rule – a reality as factual as any listed above. Losing a job is tough, while finding your next opportunity can be just as hard. But if you go out into that post-job existence with at least these five realities locked in your arsenal, you’ll be much better prepared to take what the job-seeking world has to dish out.