A couple years ago, I lost a dream job in a horrid way. I’d spent years networking and branding myself for the opportunity and had just gotten it. Then, shortly after I started, the company’s fortunes went downhill and my co-workers and I endured an agonizing, demoralizing few months until we were laid off.
It was devastating. This was something I’d dreamed about and worked incredibly hard for, and it was snatched out of my hands by forces beyond my control. Suddenly, I had to start my job hunt all over again – when I was already demoralized from working in a company that was racing downhill.
A bunch of other friends of mine have been in similar situations in recent months. One also lost a hard-won job at a dream company because her company’s business went downhill. Another, about to graduate with his MBA, had to jump back into job hunting after the start-up he was working at part-time reluctantly concluded that they couldn’t get the funding to bring him on full-time
Finding yourself back on the market unexpectedly is really stressful and demoralizing. But when you lose a job, you have to get back out there right away. No matter how much you want to, you simply cannot spend all your time curled up on your couch watching Grey’s Anatomy with an increasingly cuddle-resistant cat! Nor surfing the internet or any other ways people cope.
So off to networking events you go. Then, you fill out job applications, go on interviews and beg everyone you know for help. And – when you’re already feeling down – you hear “No” a lot. And all the while, your nest egg is ticking towards empty. The worst part of this is that no matter how down you feel, you have to go into each interview and networking event with a smile and a positive attitude!
Unsurprisingly, unexpected job-hunting feels really depressing. Which is why it’s so important to keep your personal branding going even when you have a job you like – so if the worst happens, you don’t have to start from scratch.
However, whether or not you’ve kept up your personal branding, throwing yourself back into a job-hunt takes a lot out of you.
So when you find yourself in that position, even if you’re short on money, it’s absolutely essential to find a way to do activities that make you feel good about yourself.
For me, that was horseback riding. Even when I was carefully watching my money, I kept a partial lease on a horse at a nearby stable. Regularily, I would head over to the ranch, saddle up Jet and head out for a run on the trails. I always came back feeling much better.
Another friend of mine, embroiled in a tough job hunt, kept his spirits up by playing a sport he’s incredible at, and traveling to regional tournaments around the US where he could compete at an elite level. He’d get there the cheapest way possible, sleep on the floor of a friend’s house and do everything he could to keep his costs down, but he’d still go.*
For both of us, those activities were essential parts of our job-hunting strategy. We were able to keep going to networking events and keeping our spirits up for interviews because we consistantly had something that we did well at – and that forced us to think positively for a while. And that’s so essential – because if you have to put your best self on display after a discouraging job loss – you need to feel positive about yourself as well.
So don’t throw yourself into your job hunt and forget about everything else that makes you happy in life. You’ll do better in your job-hunt if you get a regular emotional boost – even if you have to be creative to figure out ways to make that thing you enjoy happen.
*Incidentally, my friend was offered a job he really wanted less than a week after he finished highly in a Nationals competition for his hobby. Perhaps a coincidence, but the effort he put into preparing for this competition and then the resulting emotional high probably helped!