6 job-search methods to use to stay sane


I think Albert Einstein said it best:

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

Yet, as career advisors, we see this practice all the time. And usually it’s the people who are struggling to land their next job that are doing exactly this. They tell me they’ve been using Indeed.com and sometimes Monster.com or LinkedIn…exclusively.

Have you been networking? I ask them. No, that doesn’t work for me, they say. And so they continue using the job boards to distribute their resume, and they wait. Weeks pass and when I see them next, I ask how their search is going. Not so good they tell me.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m not suggesting that my clients abandon the job boards. Plenty of people land interviews and eventually a position. It just takes them longer. What I am suggesting is that my clients use other means of looking for work.

Use Different Methods to Look for Work 

But before we go further with my suggestions for looking for work, you must know what you want to do, as well as where you’d like to work. I find this to be a challenge for some job seekers, who give me a blank stare when I ask them these questions.

Most know what they want to do but aren’t quite sure where they’d like to work. They don’t have a target company list of even 15 companies, let alone 10. Without this list, networking will be extremely difficult, as you won’t know exactly who to approach.

1. Networking has always proved to be the best way to look for work. Spreading the word in your community and asking your friends, neighbors, relatives, etc. to keep their ears open is a start.

Attend networking groups a couple of times a week. Search on Meetup.com to see if there are smaller events might be more to your liking, particularly if you’re more introverted and prefer the intimacy smaller groups provide.

Supplement your in-person networking with LinkedIn. Make initial contact online and then follow up with a phone call. Ask to meet your LinkedIn connections for coffee, or talking on the phone and Skype-ing may be the way your connections want to go.

2. Reach out to recruiters or staffing agencies. Recruiters have a pipeline of their own of employers that are looking to fill positions. They may work directly with employers or assist internal recruiters at large corporations.

Their job is to present the best candidates to extremely busy hiring managers. They are loyal to said hiring managers because the employer pays their salaries. Make no mistake; recruiters work for the employers, not you.

Therefore, it’s important that your marketing campaign is strong. Your resume and LinkedIn profile must be powerful. As well, you must sell yourself in phone interviews conducted by recruiters. If you can impress the recruiters, you’re one step closer to the face-to-face interview.

3. Leverage your alumni association. Your college, and perhaps your high school, has a vast network of alumni who are more than willing to help you. Why? Because you share something very important in common; you went to the same school.

In addition to a vast network, there are a number of services your alumni association offers: networking events, career advice, mentoring opportunities, informational meetings, and possibly job fairs.

Not all college alumni associations offer these services, but for those that do you should take advantage of as many of them as possible.

4. Knock on companies’ doors, if possible. Some of my clients who are in the trades benefit more from simply going to work-sites and talking with foremen to see if they need any help. Resumes are rarely needed, but confidence matters a great deal.

This doesn’t mean others can’t “knock on companies’ doors.” What I mean by this is sending an introduction of yourself to the companies for which you’d like to work. (Remember that company list?) These are called networking emails and can be very useful in asking for informational meetings.

Some believe these can be more valuable than cover letters, and I’m inclined to agree. This is a great step for those who like to write, as opposed to speaking on the phone. In other words, introverts. The goal is to penetrate the Hidden Job Market.

5. Volunteer in your area of expertise. Volunteering is a good idea for a number of reasons. One, you put yourself in a position to network with people who are currently working and may have ideas or contacts who can be of use.

Two, it keeps you active; you’re not spending all your time sitting at home behind your computer. There’s something about getting out of the house and getting into a routine that’s very cathartic. It gives you a sense of achievement.

Finally, you can enhance the skills you have or develop new ones. For example, you’re a web developer that needs more experience in PHP language. So you volunteer to develop a non-profit’s website. This is also great fodder for your resume.

6. Applying online. With all the negative talk about job boards, there has to be something said about doing it effectively. One way to do it wrong is to simply leave your resume on Monster, Dice, Simply Hired, etc., and wait for the calls to come rolling in.

Similarly, to apply for advertised positions on the company’s website—which is purported to produce better results—will not be enough. The fact is that the majority of job seekers are applying online for the 30% of jobs out there; so there’s a lot of competition.

Now, to do it correctly requires 1) a resume that is optimized for the advertised positions, 2) applying for positions you’re qualified for, and 3) following up on the jobs for which you applied.

There are some barriers, though. For instance, you would have to tailor each resume to the particular jobs. And often you cannot reach the decision maker at the companies. This said, people have told me they’ve landed interviews by applying online.

To use only one method of looking for work would not be productive. If, for instance, you were to network alone—which garners a 70% success rate by some people’s measures—it would not be as successful as if you were to combine that with using job boards and contacting recruiters.

And if networking is not your forte, you may find the going slow. So use the methods of looking for work that you feel are most productive. Just don’t limit it to one method, particularly applying online.

Photo: Flickr, marccm



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5 services your alumni association offers, as well as best practices


As a volunteer for my alma mater’s alumni association, I have witnessed some savvy networking from students, recent, and not-so recent alumni. I’ve been impressed with the level of professionalism they’ve demonstrated and their focus on gaining employment.

At one event held in Boston, alumni and current students (as young as sophomores) showed up dressed to impress, took advantage of a free photo shoot, and lined up for the duration of the event for resume and LinkedIn profile critiques I was giving.

My alma mater’s alumni association has held other events in the past that were geared toward helping our alums in their job search. They were well coordinated and of great benefit to the attendees.

Not all alumni services are equal, but generally they offer the services explained below. To take advantage of there services, you must adhere to best practices which are also explained below.


Career advice

Established alumni from your college can provide you with a plethora of career advice, most of which is valuable because your alums have been in their industry, in some cases, for many years. Some have read tons of resumes, cover letters, and interviewed candidates.

Call on alumni for practical advice. Look for people at your level or, better yet, managed employees who work in your occupation and industry. Ask them what they expect from resumes and job candidates in interviews. Pick their brains for this important information.

At my alma mater, there is a list of alumni who can help grads with their resumes, networking and interview techniques, LinkedIn profile, job-search etiquette, and other job-search topics. I have been contacted by recent and not-so-recent grads seeking my services.

A vast network

If you’re fortunate, you have access to vast database of people in the space you want to enter. This database provides you with email addresses, telephone numbers, and LinkedIn profile URLs. If you don’t have access to this information, use LinkedIn’s Find Alumni feature.

Your potent network can span the world, but you might want to focus on your local area. If I want to access my local network, I’ll contact the president of the alumni association. However, if I am interested in seeking employment in North Carolina, I’ll contact the president of that charter.

Once you have located alumni who can help you in your job search, you’ll approach them as you would any potential connection. You can call them, send email, or send Inmail through LinkedIn.

Informational interviews

One of the best ways to pick your alumni’s brains is asking for an informational interview, which I prefer to call a networking meeting, because that’s what you’re doing; you’re networking. But more to the point, you’re gathering important information and advice.

You’re the one who’s asking the questions, so they need to be intelligent ones. Little do you know, but there may be a position developing at your alum’s company. If you impress your alum with the dialog you generate, you may be referred to the hiring authority.

But that’s when the stars are aligned. Along with gaining valuable information, you need to leave the networking meeting with additional contacts with whom you can speak. You are building your network. You’re always building your network.

Alumni and other events

The event I mentioned above was organized to perfection. It was held in Boston at my alma mater’s club, a stunning building with a great view of the city. The event was designed to introduce people to those who could help them in their job search.

At the event, I critiqued resumes and LinkedIn profiles. Other pundits spoke about networking, job-search etiquette, and other job-search topics. And the students and recent grads came to soak up information.

Job fairs are also a great event that are held, for the most part, by career services. However, some alumni associations also conduct job fairs or smaller networking opportunities, such as sports gatherings, social events, etc.

If your alumni association puts on job fairs, check out the companies that are attending and go to the job fairs to make connections. Again, you’re in control of your destiny. Impress some of the reps, and you might create opportunities.

Mentor opportunities

Alumni associations encourage alumni to reach out to professionals in their industry who can mentor them in the job search. The mentors are not career counselors, but they can provide great insight into their industry.

Mentors give valuable time out of their day to gain an understanding of what you’re looking for in employment, how you should approach your search with the correct attitude, suggest people with whom you can speak, and give you the motivation you need.

Mentors will guide you from the start of your job search to the end. They are dedicated to the success of their mentees. They are a special group.

Best practices

To utilize the services explained above requires appropriate behavior, especially since the alumni volunteers are acting out of the goodness of their heart. Here are some best practices:

Be polite is rule number one. Do what you were taught as a child and carried throughout your life. The words, “please” and “thank you” go a long way. Represent your alma mater the proper way.

Be assertive but in a respectful way. Not all volunteers will follow through in a timely manner. Some may simply forget to return your calls. In this case, leave a polite message reminding them of your meeting.

Be accommodating to your alumni volunteer. One of my alumni clients said he’d feel more comfortable meeting face-to-face, but because we live 50 miles apart and I have a busy personal life, he agreed to communicate via phone. Alumni volunteers will also accommodate their alumni clients when possible.

Be knowledgeable when you attend a networking meeting. Don’t arrive without intelligent questions. Contribute to the conversation with appropriate comments. Show yourself as someone who could work at that company if a position exists.

Be focused on your job search. Nothing is more frustrating than talking with someone who is vague about their career goals. However, if you are unsure about what you want to do, you should be able to describe your transferable skills and experience required for a career change.

Be on LinkedIn is a no-brainer these days. Nothing impresses me more these days than a student or someone fresh out of school who has a strong profile and engages with their connections on a regular basis. You should be one of the 450 million LinkedIn users.

Following up is essential to your relationship with your alumni volunteer. After you’ve spoken with them or met them in person, send a thank you via email or card. Ping them every once in awhile so they know how your search is going. Stay top of mind.

It’s been a pleasure volunteering for my alma mater’s alumni association. I’ve had the opportunity to educate alumni of various ages on LinkedIn and resumes and the job search. Be assured that there are alumni volunteers who would like to help you.

If you appreciate your alumni association, I’d love to hear why.

Photo: UMass Alumni Association



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5 reasons why older job candidates shouldn’t discriminate against younger interviewers


Amy, a colleague of mine who looks no older than 30, came to me to tell me of meetings she had just had with a job seeker and to give me some advice. In her rapid voice, she told me that she had just met with an older male who treated her as though she were a child. She was outraged and rightfully so.

Hmmm, I thought, here it comes.

Amy is well revered by the staff at our career center and the customers with whom she meets. She knows a great deal about the job search and training, so being disregarded by this man rubbed her the wrong way.

We sat and talked about her meeting with him and wondered aloud if this is how he presents himself at interviews to people younger than he. And if he does, what his chances of success in this job market are. Slim to none, we concurred.

Eventually she calmed down.

Her advice to me was to bring up in my Mature Worker workshop this attitude toward younger interviewers . (She told me three times.) I totally agreed with her and immediately made a change to the presentation slide: “Treat younger interviewers the way you would like to be treated.”

We career advisors often come to the defense of older workers who experience age discrimination; but we don’t talk as much about reverse age discrimination, such as what Amy experienced.

We are reluctant to tell people who are unemployed how the interviewer might feel about this type of rude behavior. But this is wrong of us. (Read 10 ways you can kill your job search with a negative attitude.)

This is the message I would impart. Think about if you were younger and on the opposite side of the table interviewing people for a position, where personality fit is as important as technical abilities. How would you react if an older job candidate looked at you with disdain and without saying it, called you inexperienced and beneath his level? Further, what would you think if you were going to be his immediate supervisor?

Hiring him would not be a marriage made in heaven. You, as the younger hiring manager, would have to prove yourself to the, albeit highly qualified, candidate on a regular basis. He would question your every decision and tell you how he would do things. Any effort you would make to correct his actions or even reprimand him would be met with resistance. You would feel powerless. You’d be crazy to hire him.

The large majority of older workers have a great deal of value to offer employers. They’re knowledgeable in their work and possess life experience that younger workers do not. They want to work and are flexible with their schedule. They’re dependable, able to mentor others, and are great role models. These are but a few qualities of the older worker.

But there are a few older workers who think they’re all that or who have a chip on their shoulder. They are convinced that they’ll experience age discrimination at every interview. In other words, they have lost the job before the interview begins.

Susan Jepson, director of the National Senior Network, wrote an article addressing reverse age discrimination practiced by older workers. She believes that sometimes it’s not intentional. She writes:

Without intending to, or without knowing it, mature workers can come across as arrogant, condescending; that behavior can invite rejection. Examine your beliefs and assumptions and work hard to be open and communicative with your interviewer, without prejudice of any kind.

Susan Jepson is a mature worker, so she speaks objectively.

If you happen to be one who intentionally discriminates against younger interviewers, remember that the person sitting across from you deserves as much respect as you do. Also keep in mind that your livelihood might depend on how much they value you as a potential employee. More specifically, remember:

1. She earned her job. Whether she has less experience on the job than you is irrelevant. Someone in the company determined that she was the most capable to manage a group of people. And yes, they could have been wrong.

2. Her job is to hire the best person. You are the best person, but if you show contempt or even hint to your superiority, she won’t see your talent through the less-than-desirable attitude you demonstrate.

3. She will appreciate your points of view. Once assured you’re not after her job, she may see you as a mentor and role model. Younger colleagues like the approval of older workers. Take it from someone who supervised someone 20 years my senior; her approval meant a lot to me.

4, She might have some growing to do. And if you want to succeed, you’ll realize that people of all ages have some growing to do, including you. You can help her through this process by building her self-esteem and confidence. It’s a wonderful thing to see someone grow under your tutelage.

5. Whether you like it or not, she will be your boss. What are your options right now? Enough said.

You may arrive at interviews where age discrimination is blatant due to no fault of yours. This is the time when you are the bigger man/woman and leave with your pride intact, your head held high. The word humility comes to mind, as he who is humble can adapt to more demanding situations than he who is arrogant.

In the end, my colleague, Amy, told her customer that his behavior was unacceptable and would do him more harm than good; and he apologized, admitting his error. We are never too old to learn valuable lessons.

If you enjoy this post, read why younger interviewers shouldn’t discriminate against older workers.

Posted in Career Search, Interviewing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

5 ways to give when you’re networking for a job


I was pleasantly surprised to receive a gift (four delicious pumpkin cupcakes) from a member of a networking group I facilitate. Prior to bestowing upon me such a kind gift, Marie had asked me to critique “only her LinkedIn profile Summary.”

This gift was hardly necessary; although, I have to admit I had forgotten to look at her profile. So I sat with her that day for a brief time and offered some suggestions like, “This paragraph is a bit dense….

“I like the content a lot but perhaps you’d want to reorganize it to match your headline….

“I like your tag line a lot….

“The rest of your profile is great, but you might want to copy and paste some symbols for bullets to spiff it up.”

This interaction is an example of how to give to people when you’re in the job search. Do you have to give baked goods like Marie did? No. You have to reciprocate, however. Here are some ways to give back.

1. Share information

Had Marie sent me a link to an article that could provide fodder for a workshop I lead or a blog post idea, it would be a great way to give back. I’m one who is constantly trolling LinkedIn for information to learn more.

Very little effort required here. For a job seeker it could mean a great post on how to write a resume or some great interview tips. I think sharing information is particularly important for after an informational meeting. You receive information from the person granting you the meeting; now it’s time to return the favor.

2. Make an introduction to someone who could possibly help

You know the saying, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime?” When you make an introduction, this is what you’re doing. You’re telling your networking partner to take the ball and run.

Note: providing an introduction in person or on LinkedIn is the same concept. LinkedIn may be the way to go for the busy people you know, but an in-person introduction is more expedient and, perhaps, more efficient.

3. Tell networking groups about your happy landing

Don’t think your networking partners won’t be pleased to learn about your Happy Landing. They will be pleased. However, don’t return to the group to gloat. Tell them how you landed your job.

Many times people have returned the group I facilitate to tell us about the journey they traveled. Have they always landed due to networking? Not always. But networking has played at least a small part in their success. Tell people what worked…and what didn’t.

4. Provide leads after you land a job

Some people who’ve landed a job have contacted me about advertised or, better yet, unadvertised positions at their new company. They get the point of networking. This is one of the best ways to give back after your job search.

Do you know someone who’s still looking? Keep that person in mind when positions open in your company. Be smart about it, though. Your new company might offer an employee referral bonus; this doesn’t give you full range to tell everyone you know about the opening, particularly if they’re not qualified.

5. If you don’t get the job, recommend someone else

Sometimes you curse a recruiter for not helping you land a job. You’re so upset because the recruiter delivers the bad news that the company felt you weren’t qualified. There was empathy in their voice as they told you.

Instead of holding it against the recruiter, think about how you can possibly help a networking connection. It may hurt but think about the main tenet of networking; provide help before expecting it. And if it works out for your networking partner, you gain the satisfaction of helping that person.

As well, you help the recruiter who can possibly help you in the future. Remember that recruiters have a network of employers who need to fill jobs. Don’t discount them.


These are but five ways you can help your networking partners. As I said, it’s not necessary to bring delicious baked goods to show your appreciation, but it does help. Thank you, Marie!

Photo: Flickr, the man at the front desk said i’d find you here

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2 vital areas where extraverts can improve their job search


With the plethora of job-search advice for introverts (Is) and approximately zero for extraverts (Es), it must make the Es feel…unloved. I’d like to give some love to the Es, because that’s the kind of nice guy I am. In this post I’ll advise the Es on mistakes they can avoid.

There are two components of a jobseeker’s marketing campaign, written and verbal communications, where Es can use some help. We’ll look at the résumé, networking, and the interview.

1. Written communications. For most, the job search begins with submitting a résumé and possibly a cover letter to the employer. The act of writing a résumé can sometimes be problematic for the Es, who prefer speaking over writing.

Is, on the other hand, prefer writing than conversing and, as a rule, excel in this area. The Is are more reflective and take their time to write their marketing materials. They prepare by researching the position and company—almost to a fault.

Es must resist the urge to hastily write a résumé that fails to accomplish: addressing the job requirements in order of priority, highlighting relevant accomplishments, and promoting branding.

One excuse I hear from my extraverted customers for faltering in this area is that they’ll nail the interview. At this point I tell them they “ain’t” getting to the interview without a powerful résumé.

Where the Es can shine in this area of the job search is the distribution of their written material. They are natural networkers who understand the importance of getting the résumé into the hands of decision makers and, as such, should resist simply posting their résumé to every job board out there.

This is where the Is can take a lesson from their counterpart, the ability to network with ease.

2. Verbal communications. Speaking of networking; extravers are generally more comfortable than introverts when it comes to attending formal networking events. But not all Es are master networkers.

The main faux pas of poor networkers is loquaciousness, which is a fancy word for talking too much. While Is are often accused of not talking enough, the Es have to know when to shut the motor—a tall order for some Es.

stop talkingNetworking isn’t about who can say the most in a three-hour time period. Take a lesson from the Is who listen to what others have to say. People appreciate being listened to.

Many of my extraverted customers tell me they talk too much, and some have admitted they botch interviews because they—you got it—talk too much. Some of them say they can’t help it.

Es are known to be very confident at interviews, which is a good thing. But they can also be over confident which leads them to ignore the tenets of good interviewing. That’s a bad thing.

At interviews the Es must keep in mind that it’s not a time to control the conversation. The interviewer/s have a certain number of questions they need to ask the candidates, so it’s best to answer them succinctly while also supplying the proper amount of information.

Lou Adler writes in an article about answers that are too long:

The best answers are 1-2 minutes long….Interviewees who talk too much are considered self-absorbed, boring and imprecise. Worse, after two minutes the interviewer tunes you out and doesn’t hear a thing you’ve said.

One more area the Es must work on is conducting the proper research before an interview. They are confident verbal communicators and may see no need to research the job, company, and competition; thus going in unprepared. Winging it is not going to win the job; the person with the right answers will.

The Is, on the hand, could take a lesson from the Es’ playbook in terms of confidence during the interview. They need to speak more freely and quicker; rather then reflecting and appearing to reflect too much. This is where the Is preparation comes in handy.

There has to be a middle ground, referred to by folks like Daniel Pink as ambiverts, when it comes to reaching the right amount of talking and listening at networking events and interviews. Accordingly, the Es who “score” slight in clarity on the continuum (11-13) are more likely to be better listeners, as well as comfortable with small talk. This is likely true for introverts who also score in the slight range.

When it comes to written and verbal communications in the job search, Es have to be cognizant of taking their time constructing their résumés and knowing when it’s time to listen as opposed to talking too much. Without understanding the importance of effective written and verbal communications, the job search for the Es can be a long haul.

Photo, Flickr, Source One Network Solutions

Posted in Career Networking, Career Search, Interviewing, Introverts, Résumé Writing | Tagged , , , , | 8 Comments

Don’t take the telephone interview lightly; be prepared for 4 potential problem areas


Recently a former customer of mine told me the great news that he was offered an engineering position. He was extremely happy about getting the job and thought he’d enjoy working for the company, even though he never met anyone at the company.

After five interviews he was offered the job. These interviews were all conducted over the phone.

If you think a telephone interview isn’t a real interview, you’re sadly mistaken. Telephone interviews are generally thought of as a screening device, but they carry a lot of weight and, in some cases, they’re full-fledged interviews. Often times job seekers don’t take the telephone interview seriously, and this is a huge mistake.

This is the type of response I sometimes get from my workshop attendees when they tell me they have a telephone interview, “It’s just a telephone interview. I hope I get a face-to-face.” I tell them to prepare as hard as they would for a personal interview. Don’t get caught off guard.

Yes, the face-to-face is the next step, but you can’t get there without impressing the interviewer on the other end of the phone, whether she’s a recruiter, hiring manager, HR, or even the owner of a company.

Generally the interviewer is trying to obtain four bits of information from you, areas to which you can respond well or fail.

1. Do you have the skills and experience to do the job? The first of the interviewer’s interests is one of the easiest to meet. You’ve applied for a public relations manager position that’s “perfect” for you.

You have experience and accomplishments required of a strong public relations manager. Your communications skills are above reproach, demonstrated by excellent rapport with the media, business partners, and customers.

In addition, you’ve written press releases, customer success stories, and assisted with white papers. You’ve added content to the company’s website that even project managers couldn’t supply. One of your greatest accomplishments was placing more than 50 articles in leading trade magazines.

2. Are you motivated and well liked? Your former colleagues describe you as amiable, extremely goal oriented, and one who exudes enthusiasm. The last quality shows motivation and will carry over nicely to your work for the next company. You’ve done your research and have decided that this is the company you want to work for; it’s on your “A” list.

When the interviewer asks why you want to work for the company, you gush with excitement and feel a bit awkward telling her you love the responsibilities set forth in the job description.

Further, through your networking you’ve learned about the corporate culture, including the management team. You tell her it sounds a lot like your former company and will be a great fit.

3. Why did you leave your last company? This one is tough for you, because even though you were laid off, you feel a bit insecure and wonder if you were to blame. But of the three reasons; you were laid off, you were let go, or you quit; this is the easiest to explain.

Your company was acquired and there would be duplication with the marketing department that exists for the company that bought yours. You keep this answer brief, 15 seconds and there are no follow-up questions. You’re doing great so far.

4. What is your salary expectation? “So Bill, what are your needs?” The question hits you like a brick. “Excuse me,” you say. “What do you expect for salary? What will it take to get you to the next step?” the interviewer says. Your mind goes blank. You’ve been instructed to handle the question in this order:

  1. Try to deflect the question.
  2. If this doesn’t work, ask for their range.
  3. And if this doesn’t work, give them your range.
  4. When all else fails, you cite an exact figure based on your online research and networking.

You’ve forgotten everything your job coach told you and blurt out, “At my last job I made $72,000.” But this isn’t the question asked. The interviewer wants you to tell her what you expect for salary, not what you made at your last company. “Is this what you had in mind?” you timidly say.

There’s a pause at the other end, and finally the voice thanks you for your time. She tells you if you’re suitable for an interview at the company, you’ll be notified within a week. She says it looks promising for you….

But you know right then that the position hangs in the balance. You’ve spoken first and within 10 seconds said something you can’t take back. You were prepared, but not prepared enough. You didn’t think this interview counted; you’d do better at the face-to-face, if you get there.

Photo: Flickr, Dwight Anthony

Posted in Career Search, Interviewing | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

To lose a job: 7 things to do about it

Contemplative Man

There’s a saying in the career development world: “You’re not in my club unless you’ve lost a job.” It’s not a kind saying, but it puts things into perspective. Many people have lost a job or two or even three. No one will ever say, “Losing a job is fun.”

To lose a job for any reason can be a blow to one’s self esteem. Even if you were let go because the company had to cut costs, usually to offload salary, you may think you failed. That the company chose you instead of Sam who was also in your department.

If you were let go because of performance issues or you didn’t see eye to eye with your manager, this can be particularly devastating. You may feel that you’re incapable of returning to the productive employee you once were.

The same applies to having to quit under pressure. Your boss was constantly harping on you for small mistakes or accused you of missteps that you know, deep in your heart, were correct actions. But because they’re the boss, they hold the power.

No matter how you wrap your head around what happened, you can’t let go of what went wrong. You lose sight of what you did well. Negative thoughts swim around your mind. People who look at your situation objectively assure you that you weren’t to blame. What can you do to get back on track?

1. Don’t deny your feelings of despondency

Being unable to concentrate on what’s going around you is natural. Your mind circles back to the fact that you’re out of work. You might have been told to hold it in. I believe this applies to only when you’re in public. When alone let it out, but not at the expense of loved ones.

You may be experiencing feelings you’ve never had before: bouts of crying for no apparent reason, short temper with family members and friends; a diminished sex drive; lack of motivation. These feelings, and more, are symptoms of unemployment; you’re not going crazy.

When I was out of work, I tried to recognize the feelings I was experiencing. It wasn’t always easy, but I realized my unemployment was temporary. You should also realize your situation is temporary.


2. Take a hiatus

You’ve heard of the saying, “Get back on the horse.” This is true, but you don’t have to do it immediately. I’ve talked with job seekers who say they’ve taken a week off to regroup, to get their bearings. While some might believe that you should begin the job search the day after you lost your job, it would be better to clear your mind.

To get back on the horse immediately might be more detrimental than helpful, as your head might be swimming in negative thoughts of self-doubt. Or you wouldn’t have the energy you need to succeed. Proper mental health is required to be successful in your job search.

This said, don’t take a “vacation,” as many of my job seekers have. They figure summer is time to vacation, right? Wrong. The best time to look for work can be the summer, when many employers are talking with potential employees.

3. Evaluate the situation and be able to explain why you’re out of work

Given three reasons why you are unemployed—your were laid off, let go, or quit—determine which it was and assess the situation. People who possess self-awareness are honest with themselves and with others.

The first reason—being laid off—is easiest to explain. One of my customers said, “I had no choice. The company could no longer afford my salary.” While this is true, it would be best to go into a little more detail, such as, “We lost two major accounts that I was working on (as a software engineer). While my work was stellar, our accounts decided to pull out.”

The second and third reasons—being let go, or quitting—are a bit harder to explain. These answers must be short, while giving an honest description of the situation, and, most importantly, explain what you’ve learned from the situation.

4. Tell people you’re out of work

I tell job seekers there’s no shame in being out of work. And I’m sure they’re saying under their breath”What would you know?” Plenty. I’ve been out of work myself and came to find out that my feelings of self-doubt were wasted.

In order for others to help you, they need to know you’re looking for work. The people you tell aren’t limited to your former colleagues and supervisors. They should include family, friends, and acquaintances. Even your brother who lives in San Francisco might hear or read of an opportunity local to you.

(Read 5 reasons why you should tell your children you lost your job.)

5. Be willing to accept help

I find this to be one of the largest roadblock for many people; they just can’t bring themselves to ask for help. There are two things to remember: one, your job search will be shorter if you have help. Two, most people like to help those in need. It gives them a sense of fulfillment. Look at it this way, you’re helping others by asking for help.

(Psychologist assert that helping others gives people a feeling of achievement. As someone out of work, you will experience the same. So pay it forward.)

This isn’t to say you should approach everyone in you community and ask, “Do you know of any jobs for me?” To tell people you’re out of work (related to #2) should be enough. For safe measure, however, “ping” people to stay top of mind. An occasional request like, “Please keep your ear to the pavement for me” should suffice.

6. Don’t sleep the day away

As difficult it may be, develop a routine. You don’t have to rise at 5:00 am so you can go to the gym before the work day. But getting up every morning at 6:00 am, taking a walk, eating breakfast, and getting out of the house would be much more productive than sleeping til 10:00 am every morning.

You’ll feel much better if you are productive, not if you rise late and watch television. I honestly believe that developing a routine is essential to your mental health and finding a job. Another suggestion is to attend your local One-Stop career center for career-search help.

7. Seek professional help

You’ll probably experience many feelings, including anger, fear, self-doubt, etc. If you become consumed with these feelings, it might be best to seek the help of a therapist. This is not unusual, trust me. I went through a plethora of feelings and, yes, I did talk with a professional. It allowed me to clear my mind.

If it gets to the point where all you can think about is the past and present, and fail to see the future, this can be an indication of depression or stress. It’s worth talking to a therapist when you reach this stage. Most insurance policies cover mental health services.

It’s hard for people to understand how difficult being unemployed can be. It is a loss of self-esteem, a familiar routine, and might be a cause of embarrassment. The above are some simple suggestions to follow.

If you get to the point where you need to talk with a professional, don’t hesitate. Those around you may notice erratic behavior in you. This can be a sign of depression and anxiety. Don’t ignore it.

Those who are in my club of people who have been unemployed at one one point can be the best people to speak with. Seek us out. We’re here to help.

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