Job searching is tough. But, what is really tough is job searching when you’re unemployed. Through my work with job seekers, I’ve noticed a trend. Those who are unemployed are much more distressed by the process of job searching then those who aren’t.
When thinking through this issue, I looked up the term “emotional rollercoaster.” I was surprised to find multiple websites that claim the term was coined by Dr. N. Amundson in relation to dealing with unemployment. He published an article called, “The dynamics of unemployment: Job loss and job search.”
I’d never heard of this article, but I was able to verify on Google Scholar that it does exist. In the description, it says, “We have developed an integrated model comparing job loss to the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance) and job search to “burnout” (enthusiasm, stagnation, frustration, apathy).”
If you have a family member who is unemployed, you have probably wondered what is going on. Why don’t they just get over it? Be positive and have a better attitude, right?
Well, sadly, it’s not that simple. When you experience other types of loss, like a death in the family, it can feel absolutely awful. At the time, there’s really nothing worse. But, if other areas in your life stay stable, eventually, you start to feel somewhat normal again after a certain period of grief.
But, unfortunately, with unemployment, these feelings of grief don’t resolve. The unemployed person must alter every piece of their life in order to cope with a sudden loss of income. They may stop going to the doctor. They may buy cheaper food. They may become isolated from friends because they don’t feel comfortable with the cost of going to a restaurant for dinner.
With unemployment, until it’s over, the person continues to be in the middle of an emergency. The end point is unknown, and the worries multiply by the day. To make matters worse, loved ones often assume the unemployed person is doing something wrong. After all, if they were doing everything right, they would have a job by now.
But, that’s not the reality of the situation. Normally, when we look for a job, we have a job. We look passively. It can take a few years to find something that’s the right fit. But, nobody notices because we still have a job. And, when you have a job, you job search in secret. When you’re unemployed, everyone knows you’re looking.
If you have an unemployed friend, cut them a little slack. Realize that it’s not just something they should have a better attitude about. Just because they haven’t landed a job doesn’t mean they aren’t good at what they do. It doesn’t mean they should switch careers. And, it doesn’t mean they need unsolicited advice.
What it means is that they need your friendship and support to get them through this emotional rollercoaster.
I recently heard a saying that stuck with me: “Learning is the new loyalty.” Hearing this phrase, it felt like the record stopped. Everything was quiet for a moment while I contemplated just how much I agree.
Often, I hear from young job seekers who are confused. Their parents have told them not to switch jobs. They’ve been advised to stay at one job for many years. It will offer stability. It will offer a retirement. Employers will respect you for staying at one place for a long period of time. Companies don’t want job hoppers.
This was true – when your parents were starting their careers. But, for the most part, it’s not the case anymore. Employers are quick to lay off workers. They often don’t promote from within. And, many are happy to hire someone new from the outside who is more up to date on technology or industry trends.
So, what’s a job seeker to do? Companies value you being up to date on your work related stills more than they value you staying at a job for ten or more years. It doesn’t mean you should change jobs every six months. But, don’t stay in a job for too long.
You may wonder how long is too long. Ask yourself these questions. Am I still learning? Am I still growing? If the answer to these questions is no, it may be time to start looking. Don’t stay in your current job for years after it becomes routine. If you’re no longer growing your skillset, you’re likely falling behind.
Think about this. When is the last time your company paid for you to attend a class or training? Sure, some companies are great about this. But, they aren’t the norm. Companies no longer prioritize education, but they do still expect you to be learning.
A great way to keep growing and learning is to take on a new challenge at a new company. And, a huge perk is pay. Companies rarely reward people who are loyal and stick around for years and years. They spend their money recruiting new talent. External hires are the ones who will make the current market rate.
The new hires they bring in are the people who are typically the most up to date. And, they stay up to date by not staying in any one job for too long.
Now, keep in mind that this advice is not one size fits all. But, when your parents or grandparents begin to give you a hard time about your career ambitions, ask yourself a few questions. Do they work in the same field as I do? Are they knowledgeable about my career field? If not, you may be talking to the wrong person. If this happens and you’re in search of advice, seek out mentors who are in your field. They may tell you, “Learning is the new loyalty.”
Almost everything else falls into the wrong way category. Occasionally, companies I shop at will try to text me and I opt out. The only time it feels good to interact with a business via text is when they’re confirming an appointment. For example, it can be helpful when a hair stylist confirms their appointment with you by text. It reminds you and allows you to easily interact with the business on your own time.
But, what I’ve seen lately doesn’t fall into these categories. It takes text messaging to an entirely new level. Employers are using text messaging in their hiring process. You heard me right. Employers are texting job seekers.
I have to think that text messaging was some fancy feature added on to a recruiting package. I can imagine a sales rep explaining that, “This is a great way to text with candidates! It will make your life so easy and will let the candidates know that you’re ahead of the game!”
But, I don’t see it this way at all. Job seeking is delicate. First of all, it’s very private. Very few people should be aware you’re job searching. The last thing you need is text messages popping up on your phone out of the blue from an employer. On top of any privacy concerns, job seeking is an extremely emotional process. It can be like a roller coaster. Often, job seekers will put aside certain time during the day to work on their job search. This is a great way to manage the stress that job seekers typically feel.
You may wonder how companies could be using text messaging to communicate with applications. There are two main buckets that these text messages fall into. The first are messages that are sent by people, and the second are automated messages that are sent by a computer.
When a company manually sends text messages, the person is generally reaching out to schedule or reschedule interviews. Recruiters also use text messages to ask candidates how an interview went with a hiring manager. These messages aren’t ideal, but they aren’t the worst.
The worst are text messages sent by computer. Companies are using them to reject candidates. Let that sink in. Remember how painful automated rejection emails are (the ones you check at your home, in the time you’ve devoted to your job search)? Now, imagine you’re going about your day and a rejection pops up on your phone, from a job you were truly interested in. Ouch!
Companies, remember: you don’t have to use every shiny piece of technology on your new applicant tracking system. Treat job seekers the way you would want to be treated.
Have you ever had a great job interview go south? If you were the job seeker, perhaps you weren’t picked right at the very end – after a lengthy interview process. Or, if you were the hiring manager, a candidate that you gave a great offer to turned you down.
These things can happen to the best of us. As a job seeker, it’s possible that the company had two excellent candidates. Ultimately, the selection of one over the other may be somewhat random. As a hiring manager, the candidate may have gotten another offer – or perhaps there was something else misaligned for them. Or, maybe their existing employer finally followed through on their promises.
Whatever happened and whether you were the candidate or the hiring manager, it can often be a stressful situation. It’s a rejection. You know that you may have to start your process over and it may take months. It can hurt your feelings. It can feel like a rejection. It may even feel like a breakup.
Very often, we want to write the person off completely. We might want to defriend them on LinkedIn, and never return another email. But, this is where we’re getting it wrong.
The world is a small place. Your industry may be small too. And, with the rate at which we’re all switching jobs these days, you may cross paths with this person again in the future. In fact, they might end up working for you. Or, you might end up working for them. Or, you may even need them to be a referral for a future opportunity.
The point is, we need each other. And, very often, hiring decisions aren’t as personal as they feel. When you’re rejected, do your best to put your hurt feelings aside. Be professional. Stay in touch. You never know what may come in the future.
I can attest to this from personal experience. One of my all-time favorite jobs, I was rejected for the first time I interviewed at the company. I’m not sure why, but I decided not to take it personally. I stayed in touch with the hiring manager via email every few months for close to two years. I kept him up to date on what I was working on. One day, he asked me to meet up for a coffee. And, it was in that coffee meeting that he asked me to come work for him.
I was so excited, and it turned out to be one of the most important jobs I’ve ever held. But, I wouldn’t have gotten there if I hadn’t been able to be professional and stay connected. And, the company also had to be willing to be professional and stay open.
The next time you’re rejected, put the hurt aside (after you’ve had a little time). Stay connected with the company. Remember, there may be future opportunities that are a fit.
Labor Day is a holiday that honors the American labor movement. It celebrates the development, productivity, and prosperity of the United States. And, it marks the unofficial end of summer. If you’re like most Americans, Labor Day is spent with loved ones and tasty food.
But, the end of summer means one thing in the world of job searching. It’s the time when job postings and hiring begin to slow. Between now and December 31st, the job search world is predicted to slow down. And, it will slow down. This is a trend that happens every year.
If you’re looking for more development, more productivity, and more prosperity at work, this is the time to get started. Honestly, an overall economic slowdown is being predicted by many economists. And, the last year has been the hottest job market in years. The upward growth we’ve seen cannot last forever.
If you’ve been thinking about switching jobs, it’s time to stop thinking and start acting.
I hope your Labor Day is great! But, when you get back from that awesome time of barbecues and swimming and loved ones, set a target for yourself. It’s not too late to start looking – if you start now. But, you have to be committed. Start off by updating two things: your resume and your LinkedIn profile. These are both critical pieces to your job search. You will need them. They aren’t optional.
Then, begin looking through new job postings. Check the postings every day and apply right away. The sooner you apply, the more likely you are to get an interview and land a job. But, don’t rely on the internet alone. Think about the people you know who work at the companies you’re applying to. Ask for their help. You’d be surprised to know how many people get a bonus at work if they refer a friend who was hired. This is an extra incentive for your friend to help get you in front of the right person.
And, use LinkedIn as more than online resume. Use it to find people who work at the company. If you can, use LinkedIn to look up the hiring managers (the bosses) for the jobs you’re applying to. If you find the hiring manager, use the opportunity to network with them and to let them know you’re interested in their job posting.
Whatever you do, don’t fall into a common trap. Many job seekers only apply for a handful of jobs and assume one will come through. If you are sure you want to make a change, you need to apply for more jobs. My goal for you is to apply to ten jobs per week. If you do this consistently, you will eventually find a new job. And, that new job just might provide you with a little more of the development, productivity, and prosperity that Labor Day is all about!