Looking Back on Six Months That Changed My Path and Perspective
There is an undeniable stigma that comes with being out of work for a period of time. The lapse or gap requires a crafty explanation at every turn while capable of causing stress and anxiety to a very high degree.
Whatever the cause may be, new job searchers are immediately thrust into emergency mode like a surgeon trying to stop the bleeding before a flat line.
The world is suddenly coming to an end, and we are the only people who can save it. Bystanders are in mourning for your recent loss.
While I acknowledge and do not intend to undervalue the fact that steady income is important to survival, advancement, and stability, I would like to squash the theory that unemployment is a negative element of professional society.
Losing a job potentially creates an enormous blessing in an awkward disguise if the seeker chooses to view it that way. There are mindsets that, when applied properly, can create something and someone noticeably stronger and more attractive to employers going forward.
On the anniversary of an episode similar to what I just described, years gone by for thoughts to evolve completely, I would like to offer some perspective to both current and future job seekers.
The following list is in chronological order.
- Sudden, unexpected change is difficult to interpret and digest in a short amount of time. Your mind and body is flooded with heavy emotion and reactions begging for exposure. The first step in this process is to smile and breathe. A graceful exit is your number one short-term priority and whatever you do in that time will engrave a lasting impression. Make absolutely sure that all those about to become a part of your past do not remember you poorly. The likelihood of that coming back to hurt you is high. Be a professional at ALL times.
- The next step on this journey is to reflect. What lead you here? What do you want to do going forward? Who do you want to be now? The best part about a fresh start is that options and directions are almost unlimited and you have new information about what did not work. The many clichés about failure and change will likely emerge, and this is the best time to listen to them. Again, this is not a picture perfect situation, but hidden beneath the chaos and uncertainty is an opportunity. Will you dwell on the past, worry about the future, or embrace today with resolve?
- After a period of reflection and dust settling, there are two situations that generally arise: enthusiasm for a new direction or continued uncertainty. No matter which category you fall under, the goal is to get in motion and never stop moving. Tap into an existing network or create a new one. If there is an industry that you hope to enter or are curious about, attend as many events as possible. Bring personal business cards to hand out instead of a resume and follow-up assertively. Momentum creates more than you can imagine — continued education, an expanded network, genuine interest, increased confidence, and most importantly, luck. Creativity and enthusiasm are crucial at this point, and if done consistently, will become healthy habits to roll over into a new job.
- It is difficult to determine how long a job search will ultimately last. When the applications are submitted and interviews emerge, employers have the prerogative of choosing who they think is best fit for their culture and the available position. A rejection at any point should strengthen the craving to achieve success. No rejection should hurt you or make you feel discouraged about the effort that lies ahead. Their decision is final and most human resources/hiring managers offer little to no feedback, so the only logical option is to thank them for their time and move forward. It was not meant to be. Double your efforts with a renewed, sharpened sense of purpose, poise and swagger that you will take into the next set of interviews. Confidence is just as loud as desperation and dejection, so be sure to exude the characteristic that companies want to see.
- Finally, when an offer does finally come, be honest (to the best of your ability) that it is something that you actually want to do. After months of job searching, it can be very tempting to accept a position simply to fill a void and alleviate the stress that comes with this situation. However, that stress could eventually return in a different form. Waking up each day to commute to a place that fails to strengthen your spirit and intellect will breed an incredible amount of complacency. Help your future self out by not settling simply for the sake of money, a “return to normalcy” and a LinkedIn profile update.
My half-year journey was set in motion by several factors, and it ended up becoming one of the most fruitful, galvanizing and rewarding periods of my life. I looked back at everything that contributed to the circumstances at hand and decided to overcome every single one.
My experiences, regrets, mishaps, successes, failures — everything that I owned — became an asset. There is a fire burning inside all of us that requires fuel daily. Let’s choose and act upon greatness while overcoming the mediocrity that all-too-often plagues our society on a daily basis.
The only thing holding you back is you.