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Chapter 2: Rejection ShockWe begin with a simple fact: our whole job-hunting system is Neanderthal. That's why, in the U.S., there are currently over six million people out of work, even in the best of economic times.
Year after year this so-called system fails one job-hunter after another, condemns man after man, woman after woman, to go down the same path, face the same problems, make the same mistakes, endure the same frustrations, go through the same loneliness, and end up feeling as though there is something wrong with them. It knows only one goal: to go after known vacancies. And it offers only three ways to do this: sending out or posting one's resume, answering newspaper ads or job postings, and going to employment agencies. Strategies which have spectacularly low success rates.
Consequently, year after year this system forces millions of us to remain unemployed after months and months of jobhunting, or if we find a job to end up underemployed, in the wrong field, at the wrong job, doing the wrong tasks, well below the peak of our abilities.
It doesn't matter what you do: you can send your resume out by the bushels, hang it from every tree on the Internet, read every ad, go to every agency, contact every search firm only to discover after a lengthy period of time that none of this works for you, and you are still unemployed.
When and if this happens to you, you will find yourself feeling as though you're experiencing some kind of "Rejection Shock." It's a kind of personal psychological Shock, characterized by a slow or rapid erosion of your self-image, and the conviction thatthere is something wrong with you, leading to lower expectations, depression, desperation, and despair. This can assume, consequently, all the proportions of a major crisis in your life, your personal relations and your family, leading to withdrawal (often), estrangement (frequently), where divorce is often a consequence and even suicide is not unthinkable. My first introduction to this was when the front page of our local newspaper described a job-hunter who put a plastic bag over his head, leaving a suicide note that said "Even a genius can't find a job." (He was a member of Mensa.) It's bad enough not to be able to find a job. But add to that, this feeling of Rejection, and . . . Yuck! Most of us hate rejection. We dedicate a large part of our lives to avoiding it when dating, when proposing new ideas, and so forth. We'll even reject others first, if we think they're about to reject us. We'll do anything to avoid rejection, and I mean anything. As we grow older, we become pretty good at throwing Rejection out of our lives. But then, along comes the job-hunt. Eight times in our lifetime (usually) we have to go through this painful process. And, except at its very end, it is nothing but a process of rejection. My friend Tom Jackson (in his Guerrilla Tactics in the Job Market) has aptly captured this, in this depressingly accurate description of a typical job-hunt, as you go to employer after employer, asking, "Will you hire me...