I am frequently asked by friends or contacts for advice about career searching. Since I have changed jobs perhaps a bit more frequently than some [due to things like corporate restructuring and maternity leave contract replacement roles, among other reasons] I guess I’ve gotten good enough at the ins and outs of it to have knowledge others find worthwhile. Since I’m a communicator, and therefore a very social person, I’m always happy to share anything I know that might help someone else.
And when I’m asked for advice about job searching and how to manage the process, I generally offer the same three pieces of insight, which, on reflection, I realize are also the main things I use to be a successful communicator when I am in a job:
Always stay focused on the objective – when you are job-hunting, this can be hard, because the nature of looking for a new job is not fun. Between recruiters/HR people who are too busy to spend more than a few seconds scanning each resume, the fact that there are always many other applicants for every job and then there’s the emotional aspect of constantly being judged and rated and often never hearing back on an application, the process of finding a job can be brutal, and it will wear you down if you let it. So when people ask me what I suggest, I always say focus on your objective, which is finding a job. There are steps and actions that will help you to do that, and focusing on those instead of the emotions that will pop up to distract you will be the best way to not let the setbacks get to you. Communicators also have distractions: executives who don’t see the value in effective communication practices, employees who are too busy to read the information we work so hard to deliver for them, budgets that won’t stretch to allow you to do things the way they really should be done. And the only way to not get discouraged is to keep going back to the objective and find a way to get it done, even if that means taking an alternate route.
Don’t take it personally – this one is hard to do sometimes, whether we’re talking about job-hunting or delivering communications. As a human being, we naturally see the world through our own, personal lens and perspective. When someone does something [or doesn’t do something] the way we were hoping for, it can feel like they are intentionally trying to hurt/annoy/frustrate us. But when you flip that around, and think about the things YOU do every day, you realize that when you do or don’t do something, it is rarely motivated around someone else, but rather we do things because they are helpful or appropriate for what WE need or are trying to accomplish. True, our actions may impact someone else as well, but the main intent isn’t typically them, but us. So when we are tempted to insert an intention to another person’s actions in relation to us that seems negative or malicious, I always recommend stopping and remembering that it’s very likely the other person wasn’t even thinking about us when they did whatever they did. So trying not to take things personally is a helpful strategy, both for job-hunting, and as a communicator! Those employees who didn’t look at the intranet article? I can almost guarantee it wasn’t because they don’t like you, or want to ruin your performance appraisal – more likely they had to choose between reading your article before the end of the day, and making their train home on time.
Take a break – My final standard piece of advice for both my job-hunting friends and myself when doing communications, is to step away and think about something else when you need some perspective. Both job searches and communications work can easily take over your entire mind if you allow it to, and no matter how important something is, or how dedicated you are to it, it will not deliver good results without balance and perspective. Sometimes, the best thing to do is step away and do something else: take a walk, read a book, talk to someone about a subject you love, play with the dog, etc., etc., etc. You get the idea. Even a small brief break to allow your brain to re-set can be extremely helpful in your motivation and effectiveness. Every communicator knows that the longer you have spent looking at a document you created, the less likely it is that you will be capable of proofreading it successfully. You need to step away for a while, so that when you look at it again, it is fresh and new. It’s the same with job searching. It will wear you down at times, and when it does, the best thing is to take a break and do something uplifting and encouraging so that you are in the right frame of mind when you come back to it, so that you present yourself to hiring managers as the talented, excited, capable candidate you actually are, not the exhausted, frustrated cranky person who has spent nine hours scanning job descriptions online.
These items all seem obvious, but I have found – both for others and for myself – that because they do seem fundamental, they are easy to push to the side and forget about. So writing them down here is not only an offering for those who may be currently looking for a new role and could use the advice, but also a reminder for myself, who is not only looking for my next exciting challenge, but who is also a communicator and can use that advice in two different areas of my own life. What’s that old saying? “Physician, heal thyself”.
Hopefully, some of this will resonate. I know that the contacts I’ve offered this advice to in the past have found it of assistance. And any time you can help someone else out, I’m all for that!