Job Search Emotions are a natural result when someone loses a job. When I work with clients in involuntary career transition, I am allowed to share a bit in what is one of the most stressful events in life—ranked right up there with death and divorce. This is true even when they’ve elected to change; and more so when involuntary. People are emotional beings. Those I work with experience any combination of reactions: shock, anger, denial, guilt, sadness, fear, relief and excitement. Some describe the experience as a roller coaster ride; others as a bungee cord jump. Few would deny it is a time of astonishing lows and equally incredible highs.
Job Search Emotions: Strategies
There have been some particular strategies that have served my clients well over the years. Though many aspects of the job search have changed—technology and social media, for example—many of the ways to minimize the emotional stress have not. I do not take credit for these strategies. They were collaborative, “live-lab” approaches with those who were walking the path—the men and women I’ve met in career transition.
- Stay positive. Don’t panic. Your life is changing, not ending. That change may lead to a more enriched work life, opportunities you didn’t know existed.
- Visualize that you now have a new job. Think, “I’m not jobless; I’m in a new job.” You’re officially a project manager, managing the important project of career next steps. It will demand your best skills, experience and talents. You may even need to develop new ones. You have work to do; no time to waste.
- Cut yourself some slack. Job loss can happen to anyone—and has happened to many. Pass on the guilt trips. Take care of your mental, physical and emotional health. Reward yourself, give yourself permission to do things that give you pleasure and minimize stress—from exercise and eating healthily, to reading a good book or watching a movie. Working with a professional career or life coach / counselor may be helpful.
- Be transparent about your search. Tell your family and friends about your search. The more secretive you are, the harder it will be for people to help you. Wait a bit to tell your professional colleagues and network about your search. Give yourself time to get yourself—and your communications strategies—in order, so that when you do talk to people, you are prepared to market and talk about what you want, and why you deserve it.
- Avoid criticizing. When you talk to prospective employers or other contacts, don’t let any negativity about your former company, boss or colleagues into the conversation. This will always work against you. It raises questions about how well (or poorly) you deal with difficult situations.
- Stay active and grounded in the moment. Don’t isolate yourself. Look around you. How many other people do you know who have been in this same situation? Talk to them, share your feelings and ask how they worked through them.
Job Search Emotions: Stress
Emotional stress can become a barrier to an effective search if not managed. There are often shifts in relationships, bruised self-esteem, an out-of-whack time and organizational structure, and the dreaded rejection cycle. But back to the concept of project management, these are obstacles to push through—not succumb to.
Do you have other ideas for dealing with the emotions of career-transition change? I’d love to hear from you!
Photo: Katie Tegtmeyer