Why Job Searches Stall — Part 1
With companies using job eliminations as a “go-to” business strategy, knowing how to launch and direct a job search is a “must-have” skill which every executive needs to master.
With that, executives need to avoid the mindsets and behaviors that can stall a job search. I’ve coached hundreds of executives working through job and career transitions, and I’ve seen time and time again the pitfalls that can stall a job search and cause heavy-duty frustration and anxiety.
In the first of a series, we’ll focus on five common mindset challenges – and suggestions for overcoming them.
Going it Alone: Job search for most executives is not a core competency, largely because they’ve been doing their jobs rather than developing the skills to find new ones. Search also is emotionally and physically demanding. Executives who work their searches by themselves find it lonely and frustrating. They also miss out on the learnings that can help them design an effective job search strategy and keep perspective during the tougher moments. Try working with a career coach . . . going to networking meetings . . . joining a job search work team . . . asking people for help . . . and keeping close to supportive friends and family to help stay out of the rabbit hole of job search frustration.
Talking to Everyone: This may seem odd give that we just said don’t go it alone. What we’re saying here is pick your spots about who you talk with about your search. Talk about your search only with people who are positive, who will support you when you’re down, and who will help you see the bigger picture while you’re grinding through the day-to-day execution. One client came to a meeting close to tears after a family bar-b-que when he was on the receiving end of unsolicited advice and pressure about how long his search was taking. Looking for a new job is challenging enough without other people going negative on you. Politely let them know that you’re on it and that and that you’ll get back to them when you’ve landed. Then go hang with the positive folks.
Doing What’s Comfortable. I see this one a lot. A client says, “I’m good. I have my resume and I’m networking with my friends. I’m applying to jobs online. I don’t need any help.” This goes on for a couple of months. And then the day comes when they see that they have no offers, no interviews and no more friends to network with. Now, they don’t know what to do. That’s because they’ve done only what’s familiar and comfortable. Successful job seekers do things that are uncomfortable. They go beyond the conventional wisdom (resumes, online applications) on how to conduct a search. They push themselves to learn modern strategies. They take actions they normally wouldn’t take. They embrace discomfort.
Not Talking About Yourself: Many client executives don’t like to talk about themselves. They tell me that their resume speaks well enough for them or that they don’t want to be seen as bragging or taking too much credit. But if you don’t tell a hiring manager how you can solve his or her problems and help achieve business goals, how will he or she get that you are the right executive for the job? If you’re still resisting, consider that the hiring manager has a very tough job to figure out who the right candidate is. If the wrong decision is made, it’s back to the beginning with lost time, lost progress, lost money. You need to learn how to talk about yourself to help the hiring manager know that you are the answer. This makes talking about yourself a win/win proposition. And you need to this precisely, professionally and nicely. Remember: You’ll get the interview because of the experience and skills on your resume. You’ll get the job because they like you. So you have to learn how to talk about yourself.
Not Caring for Yourself: There’s conventional wisdom that the job search is a 24/7 job. At the same time, it’s important to take good care of yourself in order to sustain your mindset, energy and health during the physical, emotional and intellectual demands of the search. That means managing your health, diet, thoughts and emotions in healthy ways. It means being intentional about building self-care activities into your daily routine. Also, you may want to consider your job search period as an opportunity to do stuff you normally wouldn’t do. I love it when a client tell me that he’s using some of his search time to get back into fitness training. Others have gone back to their gardens or enrolled in yoga teacher training. Many enjoy more family time. Every day, do things that feed you. It will pay off in positive energy and confidence and help you to be more engaging in interviews.
In Part 2 of this series, we’ll look at additional job search stallers, including strategic and tactical issues that can slow you down and hold you back.