Sunday, July 31, 2011

GUEST BLOGGER “Smack-A-Mole”: Fighting Off the Job-Search Blues

Packard Brown and Charlie

It is my pleasure to introduce our guest blogger this week. I met Packard Brown after our Manspeak article was published. He was interested in the psychological impact of economic distress for men, and we spent a morning exploring shared interests. Packard is a seminary-trained, proven Career Transition professional with long-standing success in helping professionals secure employment in the non-profit or corporate world. Having spent more than 20 years in both the corporate realm as a Vice President for Organization Development and in the Career Management industry as a Senior Career Consultant, he knows first-hand the strategies and tactics it takes to navigate a career transition successfully.

Our current economy has forced nearly 30 million people into unemployment, out from behind their desks to the streets or behind the fast-food counter. If you’re deep in the process of a job search, you’re in plenty of company. With this Job Market, there’s ample reason to become despondent – there’s frequent rejection, endless worry over finances, and dashed hopes. As one of my clients put it “I’m just a bug on the windshield of life”. Reason enough to feel distraught.

But take heart, it doesn’t have to be so!

Most everyone has the intelligence, the resolve and the energy to keep moving forward. You just need to adjust your thinking and practice certain tactics to keep your spirits up. Here are some pointers on trekking through the Job-Search Bog to higher ground and success.

1. Start a Brag-File. If you haven’t done so already, you absolutely need to begin recording those events when you did something well, that brought you a lot of affirmation. Start archiving those circumstances where you rescued a lost account or turned around a poor-performing office or solved a problem that stumped everyone else.

In the job search you’re going to run into rejection; people will question your experience, discount your qualifications, or misspell your name. In these instances you have to return to your achievement stories and take stock of all that you do well. Relive those circumstances where you stood out from the pack and really delivered. Doing so enables you to readily provide examples in an interview, but also works to raise your morale and reminds you that you have a lot to offer an employer.

2. Practice Sharp U-Turns. During tough times, we often succumb to behaviors, to habits that may bring us short-term relief, but really harm us in the long run. When feeling pummeled black-and-blue from the job market, don’t be tempted to toss down a few dozen Harvey Wallbangers, or smoke a joint, or raid the medicine cabinet for those kite-flying prescription drugs. I also caution clients about devoting hours to Facebook or over the top shopping sprees. Guard against developing self-destructive behaviors.

3. Pump Some Iron (or Aluminum). When turning away from bad habits, make a conscious effort to engage in those activities that bolster your physical and mental well-being as well as keep you moving forward in your search. Adopt an exercise routine; strive to spend 30 minutes a day walking or working out at the local recreation center. Make it a regular part of your weekly routine to gather with good friends or enjoy an outing with the family. Don’t become isolated. Also make a list of five things to do regarding your search and do two of them by the end of the day. My clients make phone calls to managers, set up networking appointments, or reach out to targeted contacts on LinkedIn. Stay purposefully active.

4. Smack-A-Mole. This probably sounds like “New Wave Metaphysics” but as best you can, watch your head games, control your thoughts. Dwelling continually on the negative aspects of a search only serves to draw down your energy and your morale. Believe me; it adversely affects how you come across in an interview. Remember the football film where the running back is about to carry the ball late in a close game and he repeats to himself “Don’t fumble,” “Don’t Fumble”, “Don’t fumble”? So what did he do? Of course, he fumbled the ball. When a dark and desperate thought enters your mind, act like the arcade game Smack-A-Mole, where you hammer a pop up figure with a rubber mallet. Belt that thought right out of your mind. Now granted we need to be realistic in reviewing our circumstances, but be objective of what you perceive then get off it. Don’t dwell on it. A helpful tactic is to identify one or two experiences that lift your spirits every time you think of them and use one of them to replace the negative image. For me it’s recalling my son’s hit to drive in the winning run in a baseball tournament or my daughter who’s a lyric soprano, singing a solo that brought down the house. Find one for yourself, and whenever your thoughts turn to Dark Swans, replace them with these affirming images.

The job search can certainly be a tough road to plow but knowing how to keep your mind and spirits uplifted will serve you well in the days ahead.

On Saturday, August 27, 9am – 1pm Packard and colleague Richard Oppenheim will be facilitating a workshop Greenwood Community Church called "Keeping Faith with Your Job Search." Packard has graciously offered the Carson J Spencer Foundation 10% of the proceeds of this workshop in support of our work on suicide prevention. If interested in this workshop, contact Packard for more information:

Packard N. Brown M.Div., CEC, RCC, Careers at Crossroads

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