Lessons Learned: The Rock n’ Roll Edition

In January 2016, I was faced with the daunting prospect of being on the job search. At the end of March, I joined a job seekers group (I would link to them but know they are overwhelmed with participants). To be part of their program, I had to agree to give a “Lessons Learned” presentation to my fellow seekers when I became gainfully employed again. Over the course of 7 months, I heard a number of lessons and took away different insights that I applied to my process. I appreciated these lessons the best when individuals brought themselves into their insights, not simply reading from a sheet. When my time came in November, I decided to bring my own twist by having eight songs representing what I learned from my career search. I gave a PowerPoint with the name of each song, a picture of the musician or band, then one phrase of the lesson learned, while verbally explaining what I meant. Here is the presentation in blog form with greater explanation of the significance of each lesson learned:

Song: “Help from My Friends” by Joe Cocker
 Lesson Learned: It’s Okay to Lean on Your Friends A Little Bit.
I start off with this lesson because this was the toughest one. It took a lot to swallow my pride to ask for help and be open about my underemployment to my friends and peers. But I am so grateful for all they did, whether it was that generous dinner that was bought or being a listening ear as I went through a rollercoaster of emotions. And now that I’m employed again, I have returned the favor in both deeds and in demeanor.

Song: “Setting Forth” by Eddie Vedder from the Into the Wild soundtrack 
 Lesson Learned: Find Your Wild Space. This was an important aspect of my job search. Amidst the stress and anxiety of looking for work, having the wild space through hiking or a long gym workout to process and to enjoy life was critical. For more information, I wrote an entire article on the subject.

Song: “Ask” by The Smiths
 Lesson Learned: Tenacity. As a natural introvert, asking is not the easiest. However, learned this habit helped to keep me sustained and build my network. Not every conversation and meeting was fruitful. However, it was in asking that I learned how to better accept failure, as well as gaining the wisdom that not all paths and channels to success are created equal, and to also become more discerning in this initial conversation.

Song: “One More Hour” by Sleater-Kinney
 Lesson Learned: Push Yourself that Extra Bit when Networking. In somewhat the same vein as “Ask,” I found myself discouraged when networking did not result in instant connections. However, instead of just walking away from these events, I would get some fresh air, take a deep breath, and regroup and push myself to engage others that little bit. I never regretted staying that extra time, knowing that I had made the effort to hone my networking skills.

Song: “The Waiting” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
 Lesson Learned: Patience. Like many, I hungered for that instant gratification and wanting to have that answer of yes or no following the interview. The job search is a process. I took me nearly eight months from my application at my current position to when I was hired. That in-between time was unnerving, but I am grateful as I found a job that was a great fit for my skill set and knowledge base.

Song: “Still Breathing” by Green Day
 Lesson Learned: Gratitude of the Graces in Your Life. In the end, gratitude was important. It was important for me not to compare myself to others and their respective successes or failures and instead be grateful for all that I had. I still had my health, and lived relatively comfortably even amidst the stress of the job search. I was in crisis, but it was not to the point of my being in destitution. Some days were worse than others, but with a few months past I have put it in perspective.

Song: “Diff’rent Strokes Theme” (I’ll be honest, this song is more of a stretch than the rest. But the opening lyrics, “Now, the world don’t move to the beat of just one drum, What might be right for you, may not be right for some” fit perfectly with the lesson). Lesson Learned: Self-Acceptance. I recognized that the job search is not a one size fits all mentality. At one informational interview, my contact told me that I was conducting the job search incorrectly. While I believe there is a place for critique, I believe that the statement was a mite blanketed. Indeed, there are different strategies. For me, it came down to self-marketing. I created a YouTube channel with video résumés to put myself out there to a large audience, casting a broad net, as a means to get past the shame of the job search. While these videos didn’t directly contribute to my getting my current job, I am so grateful for having done that, for it showed a creative and authentic channel in working to find a new job. On the one hand, it was a portfolio piece. In addition, it spoke to my personality, that I love to promote myself and my causes.

And so it is with these “Lessons Learned” (that I hope I never have to utilize again), that I grew as a person and that I can share with others from my example and from my advice. I hope this post has been both entertaining, as well as evoke empathy for those who are currently or previously been on a career search.

Thank you all for your time.