Job hunting is tough, and what’s often most difficult is staying motivated and positive as you do your research, write dozens of cover letters and send out countless applications, only to hear the chirp of crickets in return.
A friend of mine (let’s call him Toby; not his real name, but he’s a regular reader of Firebrand’s blog!) left his job in search of “something better” about six months ago. He’s a digital creative with a good six or seven years experience, and left his position with a reputable, multi-national agency after just 18 months because he felt the reality of the position didn’t match the hyperbolic spin fed to him during the interview process. In short, he wanted a positive culture change and, on his final day, left the office full of optimism and with a smile on his face, convinced the best was ahead of him.
The next few weeks saw him dutifully apply to several targeted employers, and his previous experience, endearing personality and obvious talent made me and many of our friends think at the time that he would be snapped up in a heartbeat.
But guess what? It didn’t happen. The applications went out, but nothing was coming back in return; the silence was deafening. One interview here, a phone call there, but nothing concrete. Toby is a ‘glass half full’ guy at the best of times, but when I caught up with him about six weeks into his job search, I could tell he was feeling unsure of himself, frustrated, and was beginning to question whether he really was as talented as we all knew he was.
I relayed to him some wonderful piece of advice a dear friend told me when I too was stuck in the employment wilderness some time ago: just when you think nothing’s going to happen, something does. I explained that taking a positive change is never easy, and that things take time; there is a certain element of luck to any job search – the whole ‘right place, right time’ thing. I also suggested he take a day or two off from bashing out cover letters, tweaking his folio and being totally fixed on finding the right job to relax, take stock and reassess his approach.
He took my advice, went down the coast for a few days, and when we caught up the following week, he explained that taking the break was the best thing he could have done. He’d done some thinking, refreshed, and resolved to press ahead, but with a bit more patience and pragmatism.
Never one to take a scatter gun approach, Toby had at least a dozen applications out there around Brisbane, all targeted, thorough and complete. He was also a keen LinkedIn user and social media champion. About three weeks after his little break, he received an online message ‘out of the blue’ from a Creative Director of a well-known agency that he had long applied to (but heard nothing back from), offering him an interview. What appeared to have stoked this CD’s interest was Toby’s regular tweets and posts online about the industry he dearly loved, but at that particular moment wasn’t a direct part of. His participation in online conversations and debate had obviously struck a chord, and had seen him stand out from the myriad of other faceless job seekers.
The rest, to use a well-worn cliché, is history. Toby ended up getting the job, with a great agency, competitive salary and a walk to work. To top it off, he met his current partner through this new job, and they’ve recently moved in together.
So what’s the point of all this? I think it demonstrates that timing, particularly with regards to the job search, isn’t always consistent with our best-laid plans. Disillusionment, frustration and self-doubt are par for the course when, despite all our best efforts, things just don’t work out as fast as we’d like them to. It’s important, however, to persevere. ‘Good things to those who wait’, but waiting for too long sucks, and in those moments of despair, it’s worthwhile to take some time out, relax and stay positive. I said there’s an element of luck to any job search, and there is, but luck, as Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca put it, ‘is what happens when preparation meets opportunity’. So keep your head up, stay positive, and persevere. Just when you think nothing is going to happen, something will; just ask Toby.