Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Job Search Resilience

My colleague, Mareen Nelson, is a career counselor who recently sent this story in a group email. I'm posting it in The Job Lounge with Maureen's permission.

A friend of mine (executive editor for tech/programmers' website) was laid off around Xmas, but just landed a job as community content editor for a different (very well-respected and active) programmers' site. In our conversation, he revealed:

- As soon as he got laid off, he sent an email to everyone in his network, letting them know he was available. One of these was forwarded to the guy who hired him.

- He really did his homwork. He knew about the site beforehand (because he works to stay informed in his field), but particularly before the interview, he scoured the site and learned everything he could about the community that was already there.

- He is passionate about his field and can talk excitedly about any aspect. Plus, he has let his personal niche interest take him in new directions. He has always been intrigued by video editing and programming and has been teaching himself a lot through the years. He said it was one thing that seemed to impress the employer.

- He was flexible and willing to work with the employer. Instead of demanding a permanent position, he is starting as a contractor because the site is in another country and has rules against hiring foreigners. The hiring manager wants to bring him onboard permanently, but he needs to find a way to do that.

One thing I know is true of this individual is that he is always upbeat and has a "can-do" attitude. I knew him 15 years ago when we both got laid off at the same time. He said, "I will have a job in one week," and he did! He dropped that courier job a couple of weeks later for a production editor job that was a much better use of his skills but I was impressed with his determination. My memory of his goal-setting and achievement has never left me. It was such a great example of his character and mindset.

I know his enthusiasm and knowledge comes across in an interview. And he is full of ideas about how to do things better -- save money, generate traffic and revenue, make things easier for users and advertisers. He got laid off right after a personal tragedy in December -- a family member who lived with him died unexpectedly in an accident. Instead of letting either event drag him down, he just picked himself up by his bootstraps and carried on.

My friend had psychological resilience -- the ability to bounce back from adversity and keep putting energy toward his goal. I think this is a big differentiator between job seekers who "make it" and those who burn out on the search and give up.

Thanks for the inspiration, Maureen. Not all of us have such a high level of resilience, which is often needed in a job hunt, especially in this tough job market. In my practice as a professional resume writer, I've found that a high percentage of job seekers are also going through non-job-related transitions such as divorce, death of a loved one, relocation, or disability. Every bit of support and inspiration is appreciated.


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Check out this book, the author, Lindsey Pollak, gives you about 100 tips to work with.

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