There comes a time in your life & career, when you realize you have to walk away from everything you have built and hoped for and also the people who created drama for you.
For me it happened in early 2020, when I realized it’s time to box everything and move to another company. That was when I went full swing on job search mode by polishing my resume, reaching out to my network and applying to new job postings.
In about a month, I got invited to an interview with a competitor for a similar role. I passed the HR selection and passed through a couple of more rounds with the hiring manger. Everything sounded promising; the hiring manager was keen to move to the next step and she shared with me her plans for the future of her portfolio and her team, she introduced me to few of her staff and she mentioned that one of her direct reports knew me from the past and that person had vouched for my skills, character and ethics, so she is confident that she want me on her team.
During our last interview though, She mentioned that the role was has to start in a couple of months as the big boss who has to sign the offer, was out of country on vacation so getting approval and signing off on things could take a bit of time, but she wanted me to assure her that I’m ok to wait and that I’m would be ready to jump start the moment they get the ink on paper. This was totally ok as I still was working in my current job, I could wrap things up and move on in peace.
All was going well when life started throwing me lemons. One morning on my way to work, I fainted in the subway! Paramedics came and said it was nothing, probably lack of oxygen. But the fainting kept happening. Luckily, next few times, the moment I felt dizzy and light headed the door of train opened & I jumped out & sat on the floor and I felt better. I thought as the paramedics said it’s all due to heavy air in the tunnels so I switched to taking the trains instead.
Few days went buy peacefully, till one morning on my way to work, it happened again but worse. I was sitting in the train and as we got closer to the station, my hands started shaking, my palms were hot and sweaty, and my heart was beating so fast it could explode in my chest. I just wanted to jump out of my own body and run as fast I could but my legs were numb and heavy. When train stopped, I couldn’t even stand up let alone getting out of the train and going down the stairs to the platform. A lady realized my state and offered me help & with her help, I dragged myself out of the train then went straight to ER. After a couple of hours, a bunch of tests and a pack of iv fluid, I was told that what I experienced was panic attack! “Me? Panic attack?! Is that even a real thing?!” “yes!” And I was told that I should take it easy for a while to prevent things from getting worse.
At this point, I thought a couple of months of rest prior to the new role would be exactly what the doctors ordered. So, I handed in my letter of resignation and felt a huge relief, not knowing that a tiny virus, on the other side of the world, has started a war against humanity and is about to change the world as we know it.
It was mid Feb when Coronavirus reached Canada. The news of the pandemic went viral and our economy received a big slap on the face. This meant that despite all the prior assurances of the hiring manger, the new company decided to freeze the hiring process due to “uncertainties”. I was left jobless, right in the midst of the fight over toilet paper!
Fast forward, 9 month later, I started a great position in a booming industry, doing what I love, for the cause that I deeply care about, surrounded with amazing professionals.
Toilet paper pursuit was a precious life lesson, but job hunting during pandemic had definitely its own twists and taught me valuable lessons that helped me succeed in my job search:
1. Recognize Your Value
I’m not talking about money here, rather the value of YOU.
Your uniqueness. What is it that only you can offer? Who you truly are, is a full package that creates your Career DNA. Figure it out and believe in it.
I know, when life throws us a curve ball, it becomes harder to keep believing in ourselves. When you are applying for jobs, day after day, and the only reward you receive is recruiters ghosting you or one more generic automated email rejections, the emotions sky rocket and doubts lurk in.
But the fact is, there are always elements in life that are out of your control but despite all the rejections and disappointment, you are still YOU, the circumstances around you, doesn’t change who you are and your value.
2. Rely On Your Tribe
Job search may not be an easy or quick process for everyone. It may be a long, difficult process that will take a toll on you. To make stay focused and positive, you need a support circle.
Think strategically and select a few members of your family or friends who are naturally supportive of you. Share your job search goal and progress with them, as much as you see fit, but make sure to express your expectations from them and tell them that you are relying on their positive support when things aren’t going well.
3. Respect Your Boundaries
We all want to be respected and treated well, but you cannot expect others to respect you if you don’t act what you preach. Self-respect is founded on knowing your values & holding yourself up to a higher moral standard.
Being out of job does not mean there is anything wrong or less about you. The truth of life is, your path may cross with folks who may treat you poorly, explicitly or implicitly, people who pursue their own agenda, even at your expense.
For the sake of your future career and you mental health, the best strategy is to disengage. Think that these folks are just human, with their own difficulties, limitations, issues and shortcomings.
Stick to your plan and boundaries, control your emotions. Practice how to respectfully reject an offer, how to politely say “No” to requests that you are not comfortable with. You will have a better chance of success, if you are prepared.
4. Goals Are Gold
Goals are fundamental element of job hunting. You have to know which direction to go, before taking your first step otherwise the chances of success would be very slim.
Ask yourself and figure out the details of your dream job so that you get clarity on your approach.
Ask yourself questions such as “What would your future role look like?”, “What would be the tasks you will perform?”, “What types of people would you like to have on your team?”, “What kind of management style you work best with?”, “What would be the culture of your future workplace for you to fit in?”
Once you know these, you will be off to a good start.
5. Dig Deeper
Once you have the answers to the above questions, then it’s time to ask yourself why these are important to you? Because this second question is the golden key that reveals your true desires and could keep you motivated throughout this process.
Sometimes answering this one little question can shift your perspectives or put you on an entirely new path so you can write a new chapter in your life story.
6. Shake Things Up
What has worked so far, doesn’t mean will always work.
Be flexible to try new methods of job search. Give a new website, a new search engine a try. Maybe join a website, an event or a group you haven’t been following. How about a revamp of your resumes? Do you even have a digital presence? A LinkedIn page? An online profile?
The point is, go outside your comfort zone and consider it a learning experience and an adventure, you may get surprised by the results.
When you are not “working”, time slips away. Days can go by and you missing your chances of applying to job openings. Setting schedules & accountability plans are crucial part of this process.
Dedicate reasonable time out of each day for your job search. Have a schedule, fixed and fluid or a mixture of both style of planning. Fluid schedules will assign certain number of hours but will not start at a fixed time, Fluid scheduling is like “2 hours every Saturday and Tuesday”.
Figure out what works best for your personality and lifestyle and stick to it.
8. Patience Boost
Finding a new job is normally not a quick process and it could take even longer during economic challenges so you have to be patient, I know you didn’t want to hear this, but the key to patience is distraction!
Constant focus on that one thing that you want and can’t have right now, will result in burn out and frustration that will have adverse effects on you and the whole process.
Think of your job search as a job and outside that schedule you are off work. Have a plan for your “job hunting work” but outside that timeframe, engage yourself with different desirable activities; Pick a new hobby, go for a hike, watch a movie, take a bubble bath and listen to your fav music, have enjoyable conversations with friends, get into whatever that keeps you in the state of flow.
Then when tomorrow comes, go back strong to your schedule and do it all over again with passion.
9. Be your own friend
Not every day will be easy, not every email you will receive will be a job offer or even kind. Less than desirable outcomes are part of the process. You will never know for sure what is happening on the other side. You can control only your end of the bargain, so put your best foot forward and have faith in your abilities.
If you didn’t get a response from a recruiter, if you didn’t ace that interview, or if you just had a bad day, remember to breathe and let it go. There will be more chances, so give yourself a day to reflect then bring all your pieces back together.
Job hunting is a job; Set goals, plan your steps, bring all your resources together and keep going, but the right mindset is the key to success and if you need a boost take advantage of the expertise and support of a coach or mentor who could hold the light and guide you through the steps.