Unemployment. Slower career progression than anticipated. Having an abusive boss or toxic work environment. These career woes can be terrifying. We put so much emphasis on career as a measure of self-worth that dissatisfaction about employment status can have an affect on all areas of our lives. Even worse, these feelings of despondency can make it harder to get motivated to apply for jobs and could impact the way you're perceived in an interview. Employers want to hire excited candidates, not depressed ones. So how do you break this cycle?
Take a deep breath. By refocusing your fear into productivity, you’ll find a new job in no time. Here's how we recommend tackling three of the most anxiety-inducing aspects of the job search:
1. You don’t know what you want to do. Whether you’re newly unemployed or just sick of your current job, you may be wondering what’s next. It’s normal to be anxious when your future is uncertain. But the flip side of anxiety is excitement. Instead of focusing on the paralysis of choice -- too many possible jobs that none seem “perfect” -- aim to learn more about yourself. Make a list of all of your skills and interests, and then brainstorm jobs where you could make use of these skills and interests. Then, write down all the reasons you don’t want each job you've come up with. Maybe you can’t afford the additional schooling that may be required, or your interests only align with half of the responsibilities that the role demands. Eventually, only a few jobs without “cons” will remain on your list, and you'll have narrowed your options into a manageable few. At this point, all you have to do is research the remaining jobs. Look up current and old job postings for similar positions and look for patterns. Set informational interviews with contacts who work in the areas you’re interested in. Vet each role carefully, and when you've assessed which career path(s) sound right for you, conduct a targeted job search that only includes these types of positions.
2. You don’t have the right network. Whether you’ve exhausted your current network or are looking to transition into a new field where you don’t know anyone, you may find the old adage of “it’s not what you know but who you know” overwhelming. But the good news about people is that you can always meet more! We have a few tried and true strategies for building your network -- aside from the (hopefully) obvious tip of attending networking events, you can start to cultivate more meaningful relationships by telling everyone you know what your employment goals are and who you want to meet. By the rules of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, someone has to know someone. You should also focus on building out your LinkedIn profile and contact list. And in a pinch, you can even cold email possible connections and hope to find a kind soul or two who'd be willing to help.
3. Your resume isn’t strong enough. Maybe you’ve been out of the workforce for several months, or you’re looking to transition to a new type of role and don't know how to play up your strengths. Or maybe you just haven’t updated your resume in a while are feeling overwhelmed. Concern about your resume is valid -- you need to present yourself well on paper in order to stand out from the pack. But pat yourself on the back -- you’ve already taken a major step toward creating a great resume simply by subscribing to our newsletter and reading our tips! If you’re still feeling stuck, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Working with someone to craft your resume -- whether it’s a professional service or a trusted friend -- can help you zero in on your skills. An objective outsider will be able to point out what's missing in your current resume and what elements are irrelevant or distracting. He may even recognize talents that you didn't realize you had! Settle on a clear list of skills that you feel confident about, and work to match the verbiage of the job posting to craft a strongresume. It takes time to build a great resume, but time is nothing to be afraid of.
Even if you're still feeling a bit unsettled, remind yourself that you are not defined by your current employment status. Life is too short to beat up on yourself and too long to feel restricted by any one path. Find what works for you now and what will make you happy now, and focus your energy on working toward that goal instead of freaking out and feeling stuck. You have the power to forge a satisfying career track -- the only thing to fear is fear itself.
--Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan