After a certain number of fruitless interviews and unanswered resume submissions, any job seeker would begin to feel defeated. Taunee Besson, career transitions expert and President and Principal Consultant at Dallas-based Career Dimensions, has a few ideas for parlaying that frustration into action. — Maurice Gilbert
Q: When I first started looking for a job, I had energy and confidence. Then depression seeped in as time went by. How do I get through the rough times without letting them get to me? How do I
protect my ego when rejections pile up?
A: Wouldn’t it be great if we could bottle enthusiasm and take a swig when we’re really thirsty?!
My 30+ years in career counseling have convinced me that a job search magnifies emotional highs and lows. An invitation for an interview may evoke euphoria, while a rejection letter can result in a three-day depression. Rational behavior often goes out the window when you feel vulnerable and at the mercy of others.
Fortunately, you can tame your emotional roller coaster by regaining control and structure in your life. Like the exhausted parents of a newborn, remind yourself the sleepless nights (joblessness) won’t last forever. It’s a temporary condition. If you work on living one day at a time without pining for the past or obsessing about the frightening future, you’ll feel a lot better.
If you can’t stop worrying, schedule 30 minutes each day to examine your anxieties. Evaluate why they are bothering you and develop techniques for dealing with them constructively. For example, if money is a real concern, work out a careful budget for making it last, alert your creditors about your situation and/or find a part-time or temp position to provide added income. Think of alternatives to keep yourself fed and clothed until you’re employed again. If you confront your worst expectations and determine how to deal with them, they will lose their power over you.
Worrying about past performance is useless. If your last interview was a disaster, chalk it up to experience and move on. Focusing on mistakes is only worthwhile when you learn from them. Endless rehashes of, “this is where I dropped the ball” will only increase the likelihood of a repeat performance.
Be sure to plan fun activities. Often, job seekers believe they must spend more energy on their job search than is appropriate or healthy. While the search may be your job at the moment, don’t put yourself on overtime. Knock off work in the evenings and weekends, or you are likely to burn out. An evening with supportive friends will do more for your morale than one spent poring over Monster ads.
Imagine how great you will feel when you find the right position. Many experts in goal setting say visualizing your objective is the first step to achieving it. The adage, “people get what they expect,” is certainly true for job seekers. Write an affirmation, post it on your mirror or carry it in your wallet and read it three times a day. Savoring past glories can encourage you to press on for the job you really want as well.
Check your step-by-step game plan. Does it use contacts effectively, or is it relying mostly on want ads and resume campaigns? Are there any other avenues you can explore to find leads? A little conceptual blockbusting alone or with friends can rejuvenate a flagging spirit.
Creating a weekly structure can give you more control of your life. Having no place to go in the morning can be depressing start. Join a job club (job seekers’ support group). Volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. Meet a friend for lunch. Walk your dog. Paint a room. Work out. Taking action always beats sitting around, unless you’re reading a great book.
If you reel with each rejection, use the approach IBM teaches its salespeople. Their records show that for each 10 customers, they close one sale. Each “no” will bring you closer to a “yes.” Don’t base your future on one potential position. Continue to generate possibilities until you receive a bona fide offer. People waste precious weeks waiting for one job that doesn’t materialize when they could be pursuing opportunities that will.
Finally, if you are really exhausted, give yourself time to relax and regroup. Take a weekend vacation in a favorite spot, read motivational books or articles about successful people who have overcome adversity, cheer up a friend who is worse off than you, meditate, clear your mind, make a list of your blessings.
Our current job market is a tough one, but it will pass. The booms and busts always do.
Taunee Besson, CMF, is president of Career Dimensions, Inc., a consulting firm founded in 1979, which works with individual and corporate clients in career change; job search; executive, small business and life coaching; college major selection and talent management.
“One of the smartest minds in the career field,” according to Tony Lee (VP of CareerCast Operations at Adicio and former publisher of the Wall Street Journal’s Online Vertical Network), Besson began writing for the Dallas Times Herald in the early 80s. Having read several of her columns, Lee asked her to contribute regular articles to the Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly (NBEW) as well. Since then, she has been a triple award-winning columnist for CareerJournal.com and Senior Columnist for CareerCast.com, as well as WorkingWoman.com and Oxygen.com. At Lee’s request, Besson authored five editions of NBEW’s Premier Guide to Resumes and three of its Premier Guide to Cover Letters. She has also written articles and/or been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Business Week, Time, Smart Money and Yahoo among others.
Taunee has worked on community nonprofit boards and committees for over 30 years including Girls Inc., Women’s Center of Dallas, Girl Scouts and Dallas Women’s Foundation, The Volunteers of America and Mortarboard, among others. She was a member of the Leadership Dallas in 1987 and Leadership America in 2003.
In 1994, the Dallas Chapter of the American Society for Training and Development chose her as its “Professional of the Year”. Her NBEW columns were selected for the “Ten Best Article Award” in 1990, 1994 and 1997. In 1999, Alpha Gamma Delta, a 200,000 member fraternal organization, named her as one of three “Distinguished Citizens” at its biannual international convention.Published by Conselium Executive Search, the global leader in compliance search.