Hi all. I’m Jacob, and I’m a jobseeker. And I really should be good at it, this job-seeking, for reasons you’ll know in a moment. But I still get stuck.
This is a post for jobseekers who are with me on this: feeling stuck. Stymied. Blocked. I hope we can help each other.
Some context on me: Back in 2006, I had a freelance writing job with Forward Motion, a company that guides and supports jobseekers and professionals as they plan and move ahead in their careers. I wrote articles with Dr. Marcia LaReau, founder of Forward Motion and expert career coach, to bring her job search and career management methodologies to recent college grads. We produced great material together.
I’ve got this!
So, when I started a job search of my own earlier this year, my first after 12 years at a single company, I wasn’t too anxious. I had written all about this. I’d just review those materials we wrote, whip a résumé into shape, and be on my way to applying for my next full-time gig.
SIDEBAR: I know 2006 was a long time ago. It’s ancient, in terms of hiring technology evolution. (For context, LinkedIn launched a mobile version of the site in 2008.) But I figured the principles would be the same. Right? Eh. Not completely right.
There are so many legit ways to get derailed from a job search. I had a mine—family health crisis, my own health crisis, a breakup—and then I tossed in some old-fashioned procrastination on top of it. But after a number of months, I finally said enough is enough. I sat down to start my search.
I thought I had a plan!…but I didn’t!
I opened my last updated résumé. I changed my contact info at the top. Good start. Facts first. And then… then I stared at it every day for two weeks with ever-diminishing hope.
A résumé is a big undertaking, I told myself. Maybe just start by researching my industry, cruise job posts. That’d be productive. Or, it should’ve been…
You see where this was going. For the purposes of this article, you can insert your own story here. We’ve all had struggles and frustrations getting started in a job search. I was stuck. And I stayed stuck for months more.
I needed help. So, a month ago, I turned back to Forward Motion.
How I got on track:
Dr. LaReau—Marcia (now co-author of the book Careermageddon: Cracking the 21st Century Career Code)—had writing and editing work for me, but more importantly, was available to give me career coaching. We prioritized my search tasks, worked closely to identify the unique value that I personally bring to potential employers, and got me up to speed with a radically changed jobs market that increasingly relies on predictive analytics and AI in the selection and interviewing processes.
I feel like I have all the pieces.
The résumé we prepared together looks great and I’m catching up with social and professional media. (I had been hiding from it, hoping for 12 years it would turn out to be a fad—like Slap Bracelets. But, no.)
At this point, I am finding job posts that look like a good fit, I’m finally applying, and I know I can get my career on track.
But still. Still, I have Stuck-Moments that collect and congeal into a whole day or a week. Even with résumés ready to send, it takes a herculean effort to apply sometimes.
This article, the one you’re currently reading, was going to be about Steps To Take When You’re Feeling Stuck. I wrote an outline full of positive, productive actions. It looked okay, and I’m sure I’ll still write it someday.
But right now, I can’t write that. I can’t pretend to be a guy with his act together, who knows what to do. Not just because I’m not really that job-search-expert-guy (even if I work for one), but because I’m finding that knowing the steps and having application materials in place aren’t the only success factors in this process. They are really important, of course. But they can’t fly themselves into hiring professionals’ inboxes or Applicant Tracking Systems for me.
Marcia has this to say: “The hardest part of the job search is managing the mental traffic. It’s an emotional rollercoaster. There’s the rejection from job applications, the comments from friends, family, and others who, especially during the holidays, make unintentionally hurtful insensitive comments.”
The real problem…it isn’t the résumé
In brief (if you can tolerate an unoriginal idiom): the toughest part of this is between our ears. Getting unstuck is turning out to be so much more about my headspace than it is about having my résumé just-so, or using the right filters in a search engine to look for opportunities efficiently.
If you can relate, I encourage you to read more from Marcia, here.
I’m a job seeker and I am just getting on my feet. I’m using the Forward Motion methodology and becoming more able to manage the mental traffic of my job search as my confidence grows. I’m not an expert, but that’s okay.
How do you get momentum to break out of job search slumps? Let’s talk in the comments.
Also, if you need help, reach out. My mental health has improved leaps and bounds since reconnecting with Forward Motion. We don’t have to do this alone. Sign up for a personal, no-charge, consultation directly with Dr. LaReau and take charge of your job search. It’s been my best move so far.