This is a blog from my heart. This week, three clients checked in with me and they were all trying to deal with discouragement. I don’t think I have to define the term. Every jobseeker I have every met knows the feeling. Every one of them dread it.
When I speak to jobseekers, they tell me that the number one challenge is managing their emotions. This hasn’t changed in over ten years. Every jobsearch is an emotional rollercoaster. I stand by that statement and I think that people who say otherwise are an exception. A jobsearch is exhausting. It is a triathlon that challenges the emotions, the psyche and the physical stamina of the most fit.
Discouragement steals energy and captures the imagination. It fills our thoughts with hopelessness. Discouragement can derail a day, and worse; it can damage relationships, which compound the difficulty. Discouragement destroys our self-worth.
I decided to take a look at the anatomy of a jobsearch. The terrain is filled with ups and downs.
As you read the following list of trends that I’ve noticed, you might ask yourself if each entry brings hope or disappointment, or both.
Anatomy of a Jobsearch
- Jobseeker gets laid off (or begins a search from a current job)
- The “toolbox” is urgently created as quickly as possible (customizable résumé, cover letter, LinkedIn profile, etc.).
- The jobsearch is launched by applying to several positions, usually between 10 – 15 applications.
- Jobseeker talks to everyone in their network, and follows through on every introduction their network recommends.
- Jobseeker may join a jobseeker support group.
- Jobseeker spends hours and hours online researching the hiring process.
- Nothing happens from the initial job search launch.
- Jobseeker requests criticism and responds to every cover letter, résumé and LinkedIn review with care.
- Jobseeker continues to apply for other positions, occasionally receiving a standard email indicating they made it through the application process.
- Steps 3 through 9 are repeated over and over again.
- Jobseeker may get nibbles from a recruiter.
- Someone may offer to show his or her résumé to someone in a company.
- A few investigative interviews surface.
- There are long bouts when nothing seems to be happening. No jobs to apply for…deafening silence. (These may go for weeks— which feel like months.)
- Self-worth plummets. Hope evaporates. Depression seems to fill every available crevice.
- Every holiday or long weekend feels like a knife in the gut.
- People try to help and their efforts are particularly frustrating and annoying. Relationships are strained. Emotions are raw.
- Finances are stressed to the limit.
If you are in the midst of this, I am so sorry. The economy and hiring process has become a mountain that may seem impassable. I do not pretend to encourage you or think that my words will help. I offer the following information and suggestions that have seemed to help others.
Common Causes of Discouragement
I did an internet search on “Common causes of discouragement”; and then I glanced at dozens of articles to find something that might help.
As you might imagine, many of them were faith-based, which didn’t bother me as I consider myself a person of faith. I realize that this doesn’t appeal to many people and many of those articles caused me to roll my eyes. None-the-less, I came across the following article that I thought had merit to people involved in a job search. It wasn’t the usual list and I’ve included a bit of my own commentary.
It cites four main causes of discouragement:
Commentary: This makes sense and it is something that a jobseeker can control. I would like to add that daily exercise may help sleeplessness and promote a positive outlook.
Commentary: Right! The jobsearch has to be one of the most frustrating activities that anyone will endure. The author also notes that with all the facets that a jobseeker has to deal with (finances, relationships, emotions…) that the situation can get overwhelming—especially when all the “life details” get in the way of urgent needs…like the jobsearch.
Commentary: Here it is: every jobsearch is filled with failure. Worse, no one tells the applicant or candidate why the position didn’t work out. They receive canned messages like:
“The company has decided to move in another direction.” Or
“The company has selected someone who better fits our current needs.”
How many of these messages can a person take and maintain a positive attitude?
It’s very hard.
Commentary: for most people, the entire process is filled with self-doubt. Jobseekers who know they can bring value to the company often doubt (with good reason) that the current hiring processes will be able to select them as a suitable candidate. They fear that the nightmare will never end. They fear they will lose everything they have worked for. They fear they will lose their family. They fear their family will stop believing in them. Often they lose their belief in themselves, their self-respect, and they may decide that their former employer was probably right in laying them off.
I weep inside for them.
Two Reasons You Will Make It
If you are among the people I have described here, I encourage you to take heart. Why? What right do I have to encourage you?
Because for 10 years I have watched clients take this trek. It is grueling. And unfortunately, what is described here is normal. (How can anything so heinous be normal?) I have noticed that those jobseekers that continue to learn, and don’t give up, somehow make it through. They are my heroes.
For those people who do give up, I do not judge you. Rest, and when you are able, please try again.
To all of you. As you get through and find a way to rebuild your life, please encourage a jobseeker who is discouraged.
Master the jobseeker skills to differentiate yourself, and stay ahead of the curve.