The stress of not knowing what’s next can be psychologically paralyzing, particularly when it comes to not having adequate funds to pay bills.
The unpredictable state of the economy has American workers on edge, particularly those who have been out of work for a long time. As businesses struggle to figure out what’s around the corner, job growth continues to stagnate out of fear of the unknown.
The key to dealing with the uncertainty of unemployment, particularly long-term unemployment, is finding ways to create your own sense of certainty. There are only so many job-seeking activities one can go through before it starts to become so repetitive it begins to feel hopeless.
Whether you are stuck in a rut yourself, or have a friend struggling to get back in the game, here are tips to reigniting your confidence and job search.
Look in the Mirror and Get Some Feedback
All too often, job seekers are tempted to fire off resumes like a Wild West posy of bank robbers firing random shotgun blasts into the air as they ride down Main Street.
Creating certainty begins with stepping back and reflecting on who you are and where you want to go. We all have our own internal drivers that guide our daily actions, and understanding those internal drivers will help you harness the essence of who you are and direct that energy in a positive and productive way. Take the time to ask yourself the following questions:
- What are my personal values or guiding principles?
- What are my intrinsic assets and natural strengths?
- What am I passionate about and how can I integrate my passions into my career aspirations?
Create a Plan
As the NBA conference semifinals ramp up this week, keep in mind that each of the eight coaches has a well thought out game plan. Nobody can predict the future, but these coaches can sure do their best to create the future they want: winning a championship.
Job seekers should do the same.
Proactive personal planning is the single greatest way to create a sense of certainty during uncertain times. Planning is about deliberately taking ownership and asserting control. The problem is that most of us don’t spend enough time taking the reins and making our own plans. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What short and long-term job seeking goals do I need to set?
- What kind of time frame do I need to commit to?
- Who can I reach out to for support?
- What will success at every step of the way look like?
Be sure to put these answers in writing and commit to taking action. Having a plan to fall back on as a reference point is a great way to restore a sense of certainty when the anxiety of uncertainty starts creeping up.
Successful people always pay attention to their surroundings and are perpetually looking for opportunities to network and showcase their skills set. The job market is competitive and ever changing, so you have to keep your eyes open and stay focused on the possibilities even when they seem farfetched. All too often people jump at job opportunities out of desperation, and that will not bring long-term happiness and career growth.
Whether you were a small business owner or occupied a plush corner office, you can’t escape the current economic reality that some jobs and industries aren’t coming back. Ask yourself:
- What is one thing I can do differently in my job search?
- How can I talk about my skills in ways I’ve never talked about them before?
- What industries seem to be trending that I haven’t considered?
- How do I get in front of people from these trending industries?
Always Bring Your A-Game
True professionals always give their best performance, regardless of the circumstances. Whether coming off the high of a win or the despair of a loss, star players always walk back onto the court with the same mindset: winning.
Just because you are having a bad day doesn’t mean you should ruin someone else’s by failing to deliver. The job-seeking process is tough and you will no doubt get a lot of rejections. If you aren’t planning on bringing you’re A-game, then why show up? It’s the only way to stand out.
We all like predictability because it gives us a sense of control over our destiny. The best way to avoid being a victim of uncertainty is to know yourself, create your own plan, be nimble and always bring you’re A-game.
Michael “Dr. Woody” Woodward, PhD is a CEC certified executive coach trained in organizational psychology. Dr. Woody is author of The YOU Plan: A 5-step Guide to Taking Charge of Your Career in the New Economy and the new on-line course The YOU Plan for Career Change on Udemy. Dr. Woody is the founder of Human Capital Integrated (HCI), a firm focused on management and leadership development. Dr. Woody also sits on the advisory board of the Florida International University Center for Leadership. Follow Dr. Woody on Twitter and Facebook.