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NEXT TO THE DEATH OF A SPOUSE, child, or parent, the fourth most emotional thing we do (tied with divorce) is look for a job. No matter what anybody tells you, changing jobs (and the difficulties in doing so) can be an emotionally debilitating experience for anyone; and certainly it's difficult for the other important people in your life: spouse, relatives, friends—in short, any significant people who touch your life.
The last five or six years have made things even more difficult. We've experienced a major recession and unemployment levels recently have hovered close to 10 percent nationally and as high as 12 or 13 percent in some parts of the country. At the time of this writing there are 15 million Americans who are jobless. This doesn't include those who are working part time but would prefer to work full time. Nor does it include a record 1.3 million who are too discouraged even to look for work.
Among other benefits, our jobs give us a sense of belonging, a sense of contributing to a group or a society, and mostly offer us a great sense of personal growth. Our jobs make us feel productive and useful. We describe ourselves in terms of work and what we do, and we identify with that work. In fact, a large part of our identities and self-respect are dependent on our jobs. The sudden loss of employment or feelings of dissatisfaction with our job can cause great disruption in our lives. These changes can reorder our priorities and have a tendency to damage our self-esteem.
In the past, we associated the emotional strain of looking for a job with people who were unemployed. But the erratic state of the current economy and the state of business in the United States can cause even those who have a job to be worried about it on a daily basis—which can create more strain. We read about companies scaling back their workforces and/or shying away from adding employees. We see our peers, neighbors, friends, and relatives either being laid off or living with the threat of being laid off. So, even if we have a job, we are scared.
It is said that as many as 52 percent of people employed in the United States would like to leave their current jobs. Maintaining a job that you really don't like is as difficult as finding a job when you don't have one. A study done for The Conference Board Review revealed that as many as two-thirds of U.S. employees are either actively looking for a new job or merely going through the motions at their current jobs.
This kind of emotional state is called the psychological recession. In this condition, people feel worried about the present and even more pessimistic about the future. This is especially relevant in the business world, because chronically fearful people are too exhausted to be creative and innovative. They expect the worst to happen, so they see no reason to give their all at work.
Acknowledge Your Emotions
"It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours." —President Harry S. Truman
The loss of a job is accompanied by just about every negative emotion that a person can experience. That is why, on the emotional severity scale, losing a job ranks close behind the death of a loved one. In fact, the death of a spouse and loss of a job are the two life events that are considered to be emotionally devastating for the longest period of time. The solution is not to deny that you're going to experience these emotions, but to figure out how you're going to minimize them so they have the least effect on you, your psyche, and your ability to go out and find a new job.
People often underestimate the challenge of looking for a new job and the negative emotions connected with that effort. I can't tell you the number of hiring authorities I've worked with over the years who have told me they weren't interested in interviewing candidates who are not currently employed. Their opinion is that, if someone is out of work, there must be something wrong with the individual. But when these people find themselves out of work as well, their view of people without jobs changes overnight.
The probability today of anyone either being out of work or being fearful about losing his or her job is about twice what it was as little as ten years ago. I explain this phenomenon in the next chapter, but, in short, it's because business operations—and therefore jobs—are much more erratic than they've ever been. And it isn't going to get any better in the near future.
Looking for a job is an emotional roller-coaster. As you get over the fears and insecurities of having to look for a job, you nevertheless go through the same emotions while actually looking for one. These emotions carry over into the interviewing and job-finding process. Your hopes will be dashed. Your ego will be assaulted. You will be lied to. You will feel strung out by the process—encouraged, then deflated. We address the causes of these frustrations in a subsequent chapter. Just be ready for the emotional strain.
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Similarly, if you think having a job while you're looking for a new one is emotionally or psychologically easy, think again. Even if you like your job but need to change for one reason or another, being employed while looking for a new job is only slightly more comforting than being out of work and looking for a job. The stress you'll feel from trying to find a new job (which is a job in itself) while also performing your best at the present job is often more difficult than simply devoting all your efforts to finding a job.
An erratic economy can make this job-hunting experience even more emotionally challenging. When the employment picture is uncertain, thousands of other people are out of work, too, or are looking for new jobs while they worry about their present ones. You are going through emotionally difficult times, but so are many others. The quick and unexpected downsizings, layoffs, and firings occur on a regular basis. Many candidates (whose companies are downsizing) get assurances on a Friday that their jobs are not in jeopardy, but then on Monday they are told they are being laid off! You can't do much about the poor economy. You can, however, control how you react to it.
Get Over It–Life Isn't Fair
Expect mood swings and physical changes that stress your body. However, the sooner you get over all these emotions and put them in perspective, the better off you are going to be. People who can process their emotions by analyzing them will deal more constructively with the grief that accompanies a job loss. That is, people who express their grief get over it faster. And the faster you deal with all your negative emotions, the faster you will gain perspective on your situation and move on to finding a new job.
EXERCISE: EXPRESS YOUR FEELINGS IN DETAIL
Please, please, please, don't overlook this exercise. Take a few minutes to write down the feelings and thoughts you have about each of the following. Soon, you'll be empowered to put these emotions into their proper perspective and be able to move on. Remember, you're not going to ignore these feelings or try to deny them. You're going to delve into them so deeply that you'll understand them, see them as distractions, and release them from your mind.
Try to answer the following questions:
How were you frustrated in your previous or current employment?
What were the disappointments you had with the job or company you left or are now experiencing in your current employment?
Did you lose or are you losing self-esteem? How?
Were you shocked at being laid off, fired, or forced to look for a new job?
Who is to blame for your having to look for a new job? Describe the situation in detail.
Describe your disillusionment with the entire situation. How did it come about?
Describe the shame you feel in needing to look for a new job. Describe what other people will think and say about you, about your having to find a new job, about your being fired or laid off, and so forth.
Do you feel isolated by having to look for a new job? Can other people really understand?
Are you denying any of the things or situations that happened? Can you describe them clearly, even if emotionally?
Do you feel guilty about what happened in losing your job or the reason you need to look for a new one? Is there anything you could have done to prevent the situation?
Whom do you feel hostile toward, if anyone? Why do they deserve your hostility?
Now, for some longer items:
1. Complete this sentence: I am angry because: _________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________ (Really go into an in-depth explanation as to why you're angry. Be as angry as you want to be; write as long as you would like.)
2. Describe the depressed feelings you might have about the situation. Do you feel sad, empty, or fatigued about it? How does "poor you" feel about this whole thing? How do you describe "poor you"? Mention details: ______________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________
3. Describe, if it applies, how unfair the entire situation is. Mention details: ____________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________
4. Write down all the things that make you fearful about this situation. Be as detailed as you need to describe exactly what you are afraid of—even ridiculous fears: _________ ____________________________________________________________________________ ____________________________________________________________________________
After you have written out your explanations in detail, read them at least three times, preferably out loud. I want you to really feel every one of the emotions that you're experiencing. It is important to focus on and deeply appreciate every feeling you have had, even if this isn't a pleasant experience. Read the answer to each question, then ask yourself aloud: "Can I let this feeling go?" Then, "Do I want to let this feeling go?" Do not be surprised if your answers are no. It is not uncommon to want to hold on to these feelings during the "grieving" period. The important thing is to feel these emotions repeatedly until you genuinely, sincerely feel that you have let them go.
Realize that you may never let go of all of these emotions—you may never eliminate them completely from your emotional memory. The objective here is not to eliminate them altogether, but to minimize their impact on you. You want to move forward toward a positive emotional state so as to interview well and attain a new job. Use this exercise three or four times at one sitting, and do two or three sittings a day until the emotions are neutralized.
There are two variations on this exercise. The first is to use a tape recorder and record an audio version of your emotional responses instead of writing them down. Then listen to the tape to recapture the emotions before you release them. The other variation is to discuss the responses, after you have written them, with a loving spouse, empathetic friend, or coach. Ask that person to just listen nonjudgmentally, thereby helping you clarify your feelings, no matter what how negative they are.
Visualize Your Feelings
Another way to deal with the mixed feelings of job loss and job stress is to visualize them. Close your eyes and "see" the exercise questions. This is a lot like playing a movie of your frustrations, disappointments, loss of self-esteem, shock, and so on—picturing the scene in your mind, with you as the central character. Think close-ups and in color. Try to make the picture as detailed as possible. As you run that movie in your mind, at a certain point change it to black-and-white and project it as far out in front of you as possible, until it becomes a speck in the distance. Your negative emotions will travel away with that image as it disappears from sight. Doing this kind of exercise, over and over, neutralizes the emotion that is associated with being up close, in color, and involved in the picture itself.
Of all the things you can do to put your emotions in perspective, writing your feelings down in detail and visualizing them are the most effective. Dealing with anger and fear in an honest, forthright, and detailed manner will help relieve the acidity of the emotions.
"Action conquers fear." —Peter Nivio Zarlenga, The Orator
The greatest antidote for these psychological "poisons" is to take massive, massive action. The problem is that most people don't know exactly where to begin. That's what this book is all about.
There is so much junk advice and "noise" out there about how to find a job that even reading it all can get confusing and be depressing. But, hold on.... We're going to make it real simple—not easy, but simple.
IF YOU GET THE MESSAGE OF THIS CHAPTER, the expectations you have about your job search will change. Most people believe that they are going to be interviewed and hired by astute, competent leaders with great business acumen, who make logical, thoughtful, timely, commonsensical, intelligent decisions. After all, they are interviewing you—or should be, anyhow. Right? Wrong!
Having interviewed more than 25,000 candidates, face-to-face, since 1973, I'm always amazed that people looking for a job think that those people who run companies in the United States really know what they're doing when it comes to business matters and especially hiring. Most people recognize that this is not the case with the companies they are now working for or have worked for in the past. But all of a sudden, when they become candidates for employment and begin looking for a new job, they think that all those other companies in America are being managed by astute leaders who have great business sense.
Some Statistics on the Nature of Employers
As of 2010, there were 7.5 million businesses in the United States with employees and 27.5 million businesses without employees. Almost all of the businesses (99.9 percent) with employees have fewer than 500 employees and 98 percent of them employ fewer than a hundred people. In fact, the average number of employees in those 7.5 million businesses with employees is sixteen. Back in the year 2000, that figure was the same—sixteen.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) indicates that between December 2000 and November 2008, the monthly turnover rate for U.S. companies was 3.3 percent. In 2010, the monthly hire-and-separation rate of employees and American companies, according to the BLS, was 3.2 and 3.1 percent, respectively. The point is that we are a nation of small companies, with 3 percent of our employees coming and going on a monthly basis. And some of these statistics reflect the situation before the present recession hit, with the unemployment rate now 9.8 percent. As I mentioned above, most people, for some reason, think that the majority of businesses in the United States are run with great business acumen and have a solid system of doing business. For job seekers, that translates into the misguided perception that their résumé is going to fall into the hands of intelligent people who are going to read it, who have the authority to hire, and who will bring them in for an interview.
Ironically, most of us know, in our hearts and minds, how messy, sloppy, and unorganized most businesses are. But for some reason, we imagine that when these people have the opportunity to interview us, things are going to change.
The average job in the United States lasts two-and-a-half to three years. Even at the C-suite level, there is little stability. Every year since 2007, the average CFO's tenure at the Fortune 500 and S&P 500 companies has been three years.
In 1975, the average company in the United States was fifty-eight years old. In 2011, the average company was fifteen years old. That is a drastic difference. If we stop and think about it, most of us should know in our hearts how erratic the nature of business is.
Even very large companies make poor business decisions and teeter on insolvency. All we need to do is look at the automotive firms and the major banks that, at one time, were model businesses; then, they had to be bailed out by the public. Business success, even survival, is much more of an imprecise science than most of us would want to admit. (Continues...)
Excerpted from THE JOB SEARCH SOLUTION by TONY BESHARA Copyright © 2012 by Tony Beshara. Excerpted by permission of AMACOM. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Posted February 26, 2007
Author Beshara did an excellent job of giving helpful hints for getting a job NOW. I am often tongue tied when leaving voicemails for potential job ops, this book guided me through leaving voicemails that flow with confidence. Hints for minority job seekers were also helpful. This book makes a wonderful graduation gift for high school and college grads. This book is worth every penny!
3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted March 5, 2009
I recently lost my job and in the midst of this abysmal job seeking environment, Tony Beshara - puts a little passion in your efforts to find what you are seeking. I am only half way through the book, but I am impressed by his understanding of the impact of a job loss - anguish and his ideas for how to motivate and stimulate you into taking action. I am looking forward to the second half.
2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
For the unemployed looking for the best book giving the best advice on how to land a job interview, I'm not sure "The Job Search Solution" is for everyone. It does give the reader practical tips about the process, but the "Solution" is extreme. The daily plan starts your weekdays at 5:30 A.M. and ends them at 10:30 P.M. with no dinner break. Saturday morning is a time for doing informal interviews. Saturday afternoons are spent volunteering. Sundays? Spend at least an hour or two researching companies and planning your job search for the upcoming week. The advice comes from a man who has successfully placed over 6,000 people in jobs and who makes around 200 phone calls each day. Talk about your hard worker... Most of us are not that obsessive/compulsive about our job search.
The author has written various "scripts" for the job seeker: cold-calling prospective employers; warm-calling; referrals; voice mails; telephone interviews; face-to-face interviews, etc. Very comprehensive - and very cold. Cover letters are written as commands: "You should read my resume and interview me because:... Read my resume and interview me this week. Sincerely, ...." They are very helpful in letting you know what a hiring manager wants to know, but I would humanize them - a lot!
That said, I did get a lot out of the book, but based on other books I've read, I would not rely solely on Beshara's book unless I was mid- to upper-level management where the process is probably more de-humanizing.
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Posted March 10, 2009
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