Editor’s Note: This blog is a modified excerpt from professional “headhunter” and bestselling job-hunting book author Skip Freeman’s next book in the “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets series of job-hunting books, Career Stalled? Publication is scheduled for late fall.
We human beings have an incredible capacity to tolerate and adapt to a very wide range of situations and conditions, including ones that make us absolutely miserable. As this is being written, there are currently millions—yes, you read that correctly, millions!—of men and women who find themselves in jobs of relatively long-term duration that have made, and continue to make, them absolutely miserable! This condition I refer to as “stable misery.”
Rare indeed is the man or woman who actually embraces change, and that is one of the prime reasons why so many of us stay in miserable jobs. Hey, it might not be all that great of a job, and yes, I am pretty miserable in it, we reason with ourselves, but at least it’s “safe, it’s “stable.” We therefore labor on in “stable misery,” seemingly unaware that the myth of any genuine “stability” or “safety” in today’s job market is just that, a myth. Your “stable,” “safe” job can, and quite often does, simply disappear into thin air when you least expect it, and certainly when you are least prepared for it.
As that great American sage Cher Bono (of “Sonny and Cher” fame) said, “This (life) ain’t no ‘dress rehearsal.’” In other words, this is it. This is your life! You’d better make the most of it now that you can because you’re not going to get a second chance on this old Earth!
The reasons most people give for staying in a miserable job, one that no longer provides them much satisfaction at all or any sense of accomplishment, are many, but chief among them are that they . . .
- Believe that work is not meant to be “fun” and that following one’s passions will simply make one poor. (FACT: If there isn’t at least some fun in your job, you definitely need to find a new one!)
- Believe they can’t afford to make a change. (FACT: Maybe that’s true and maybe it’s not. You’ll never actually know until you investigate other career opportunities, right?)
- Don’t know how to change their situation. (FACT: While that may be true, it is relatively easy to find out how to change your situation!)
- Believe they’re too old to make a change. (FACT: Is this really a reason or is it an excuse? Nearly 3 million of the 4 million jobs created since 2009 have been landed by men and women 55 and older!)
- Are not entirely sure what else they could be doing. (FACT: an easy way to find out is to investigate the current job market.)
- Lack self-confidence and really don’t believe they’re good enough to do what they really want to do. (FACT: If you’ve survived and kept your job in the toughest job market in recent memory, you either have a lot more to offer than you may believe you do—or you have started wearing a helmet to work and have become really, really good at ducking!)
- Are simply terrified of making a change. (FACT: While change can indeed be frightening to many people, what they should be more frightened of is inertia, i.e., simply being “stuck in place.”)
- Keep telling themselves that one day they’ll do something to change their situation, just not now. (FACT: There has never been a better time in recent memory to step out and make a job change if you are currently employed. Ask yourself this question: If not now, when? Ever? OK, maybe tomorrow . . . or maybe next week . . . next month . . .next year. . . .)
You can Change Your Situation!
I realize that you may have become so “bogged down” by your current job that you haven’t been able to pay proper attention to what you must do to capitalize on the many career opportunities that are available in today’s job market for people like you, i.e., those who are currently employed and have shown themselves to be true “survivors.” My advice? If you believe your career has indeed “stalled,” and you would like to begin seriously investigating how you might actually advance your career, then you need to make sure that you brand yourself in such a way as to attract the attention of “headhunters,” hiring managers and in-house corporate recruiters. Here is where you should begin:
- LinkedIn – While you may be getting tired of hearing me extol the virtues of this professional networking site, it remains nonetheless true that LinkedIn is usually “the first stop shop” for “headhunters,” hiring managers and corporate recruiters who are searching for TOP talent to fill their open jobs. Make sure you are on the site and have a professional presence, as well as a complete presence, on it!
- Your résumé – I’m betting that you haven’t even looked at your résumé in years, right? And even if you have looked at it recently, I am also betting that it wouldn’t begin to “pass muster” in today’s extremely competitive, demanding job market. There are many fine reference books available today on how to create a job-winning résumé. Make sure you avail yourself of some of these references and either create your own job-winning résumé or seek professional assistance!
- Get more involved in your profession – Are you now actively involved in professional activities and/or associations outside of your own company? If not, then you need to become active (or more active). Not only does such activity provide great networking opportunities, it also shows prospective hiring officials that you are dedicated to your chosen profession and care enough to be making continuous contributions to it. If you are able, consider writing a professional article (or blog) for an association’s publication and/or website. Volunteer to speak at professional meetings, or to chair important committees. The opportunities to become more involved in your profession are actually limited only by your time constraints and your imagination, and all certainly can pay you dividends when it comes time to be considered for a new job!
- Adjust your attitude – If you are currently miserable in your job it certainly will come through to other people. Make sure it doesn’t. In order to feel positive, you must think positive and act positive. Don’t let other people, including people at your current job, assign a “worth” to you that isn’t warranted. You have a LOT to offer, so act like it!
Now finally, once you finish reading this blog I want you to find the nearest mirror. Yes, that’s correct, the nearest mirror. Now, look into that mirror. What do you see? I’ll tell you what you should see—the only person on this Earth who can change your current job situation, if you are in fact now laboring in “stable misery.”
Skip Freeman is the author of “Headhunter” Hiring Secrets: The Rules of the Hiring Game Have Changed . . . Forever! and is the President and Chief Executive Officer of The HTW Group (Hire to Win), an Atlanta, GA, Metropolitan Area Executive Search Firm. Specializing in the placement of sales, engineering, manufacturing and R&D professionals, he has developed powerful techniques that help companies hire the best and help the best get hired.