Fear not, I’m not launching an anti-smoking campaign! I’m working with a number of people who are currently job seeking, and one thing stands out – finding a new job, especially if you’re unemployed or really unhappy in your current role, takes enormous stamina. Of course there are all sorts of external factors at play – the economy, the changing nature of work, the decline of whole industries, conscious or unconscious bias – to name a few. But one of the things I see people struggle with the most is their own resilience.
It’s hard to keep hammering out application after application, painstakingly constructing each cover letter and tailoring each CV, putting your heart and soul into every last word, willing that this time your effort will be rewarded, and it’s easy to lose hope.
We really only have two choices when confronted with an ongoing challenge – give up or keep going. Giving up leads to a guaranteed outcome – in the case of job seeking, no job. Whilst keeping going requires time, effort and the willingness to risk further disappointment, it’s the only choice that gets you further towards your goal.
Resilience is the capacity to keep going even when times are tough, pressure is great and obstacles seem insurmountable. Most of us are actually much more resilient than we realise, but even so, we can all develop our resilience further. Here’s some tips for job seekers to help stay resilient, motivated and progressing towards your goal:
Ask for feedback on every application you submit, even if you think it won’t be provided or won’t help, and take it on board with an open mind.
Identify who in your personal or professional networks can provide contacts, advice, feedback on your applications, debriefing, emotional support to handle disappointment, or just practical support like cooking a meal so you have the time and space to focus on job seeking.
In tough times, it’s tempting to run ourselves down, but even more important to eat, sleep, exercise and relax well. This preserves and boosts our physical and emotional energy, crucial to maintaining focus and effort.
Allocate your time
Sometimes it can feel like you’re overwhelmed with the relentless time and effort it takes to submit applications. Decide in advance how much time you think you should, and realistically can, devote to the process, then schedule the time into your calendar each week.
Remove the personal
What-ever response you get to a job application, it’s not about you as a person. It’s often not even about whether or not you can do the job. It’s about the strength of alignment between your capabilities and those required in the role, the competition on the day, and may even be the result of unknown factors, unfair practices, or bad luck. But it doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. Learn what you can and move on so you can make the most of the next opportunity.
Check your thinking
When you’re faced with yet another ‘unsuccessful’ response, what do you say to yourself? If you’re telling yourself you’re hopeless, you’ll never get a job and everything in your life is miserable, you might need to do some work on challenging your pessimistic thinking style. Try reminding yourself that your situation, like the weather, is temporary, and there’s no reason why your next application mightn’t just nail that job.
Whether you’re job seeking or dealing with any other challenge that requires sustained effort over time in the face of set- backs and knock backs, see if you can apply some or all of these strategies to help build your resilience and get closer to achieving your goals. In the words of Martin Luther King:
”We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope”.