Ask the Coach — Week 14

This is the column where, each week, I’ll be answering one website visitor’s question in hopes of supporting all visitors through shared (and likely, relevant) challenges, triumphs, and struggles.

Dear Kerri,

After being laid off in this difficult economy, how do I avoid hopelessness, in what seems like an impossible job search?

Discouraged in Dallas

Dear Discouraged,

I’m so sorry to hear you were laid off, and in such a challenging job market. Thanks for writing in, as I know lots of people can relate to what you’re going through.

In a time where there are so many more applicants for any given job, it’s easy to feel hopeless. What’s important to remember is that, while action is one of the best remedies for discouragement, you also want to refuel just as you would while working at a job that requires a lot of your time and energy. As I’m sure you know by now, job hunting is full-time work!

People who are currently unemployed and on the job hunt often feel as if they don’t have permission to rest, relax, or replenish, but it’s so necessary in order to stay on the hunt day after day. By remembering to take care of your spirit during this time, you’ll be much more apt to be creative, innovative, and open to opportunities.

To help you along your journey, I’ve listed some suggestions below — both for job hunting and for replenishing. I hope you find them helpful!

  • Take frequent breaks as you pore through the online listings. Step outside and get some fresh air. Go for a walk. Go see a movie alone. Give your mind a break. Doing so allows your right brain to jump in the driver’s seat for a bit, and that’s where we come up with some great ideas.
  • Send an email to select people in your world — family, friends, old colleagues, etc — letting them know what you’re up to these days and asking specifically if they happen to know anyone in the fields you’re interested in. If you’ve done this already and you’ve been out of work for a while, consider sending it again so people realize you’re still looking.
  • Social media. Post a similar message to the email you wrote on your Facebook page to broaden your reach. If you’re not already on Twitter, sign up. Start by finding people and organizations in your local area and/or preferred field to follow and correspond with. This way, you can have your finger on the pulse of your industry, and make connections you wouldn’t have otherwise.
  • “Network” doesn’t have to be a dirty word. A search in this economy takes creativity, perseverance, and lots and lots of networking. Years ago, a career coach I know talked about how jobs are much more often found through word of mouth than from newspapers or online postings. While that was certainly true at the time, it’s even more relevant now. Many jobs are found through who you know, so network, network, network. Get creative in how you network to find an approach that you actually enjoy. Social media, as mentioned above, is one way, but you want to talk face-to-face with people, too. Yes, you can check out traditional networking groups or events through the unemployment office, but also remember that every social gathering you attend is an opportunity to make contacts. This doesn’t mean you show up to a friend’s dinner party with your resume. What it does mean, however, is that you show up with a positive attitude and some clear ideas on the fields you’re interested in exploring so when you’re asked the inevitable question, “What do you do?” you can be prepared with a response along the lines of, “I was recently laid off, and am exploring any and all opportunities in (fill in the blank).” Most people immediately start thinking about any connections or suggestions they have, so you’ll be surprised at what you can learn!
  • Spend some time with that part of you who feels discouraged and hopeless. Journal a bit about how you’re feeling so you can honor the emotions around your current situation. Often times just by acknowledging how you’re feeling instead of trying to resist it can help you to feel better sooner.

By combining practical action steps with good soul care, you’re bound to find an opportunity that’s right up your alley while preventing suffering in the process.

Best of luck to you,

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