I recently saw an e-mail from a beat-up professional in transition and I had to respond. The gist of his e-mail was that he is frustrated in his job search, it’s not as easy as it should be, and people aren’t responding to his messages the way they should. My reply empathizes with him:
Dan just hit one of my sore spots. I am a generalist also. And I got laid off in a “hot job market,” a “job seeker’s market.”
And if I wanted to make $8/hour there were so many opportunities! All I had to do was either work 4 full-time restaurant jobs, or sell all my stuff, buy a cardboard box and have the kids beg while I worked at all these places.
I don’t care what economists say about how the US is doing – if you are an unemployed professional IT SUCKS. And the unemployment rate means jack when you can’t get a job.
I totally agree with Dan’s message – be nice. Be nice to the unemployed – help them out. Coach them, counsel them, introduce them. It’s likely not their fault that they are jobless, and it’s likely that you’ll be there soon enough.
Okay, off my soapbox here.
I expected to get flamed a little on the forum but I was surprised to have people weigh in and support what I was saying. I’m sure the supporters are people who have been in transition and were treated like dirt.
But I did have a good friend e-mail me off-list and tell me something different:
The other day when you â€œgot on your forum soapboxâ€ about how being out of a job sucks, I wanted to jump on that one and say, â€œum, no it doesnâ€™t.â€ Luckily, I exercised restraint so that my fellow posters could unload their pain without interruption from someone like me who, for the most part, is actually having a good time at it 😉
I feel like a politician but I have to say, I take both sides! Yes it does suck – but there are things that you can do to make it a very exciting, refreshing time! Here are some ideas that I’ve picked up over the last year:
- Manage your physical health – I sat in a chair 10 hours a day working on my computer, looking for a job. This was bad for my body – I should have forced myself to at least walk a mile a day, or do a few sets of pushups, etc. I believe that doing this would have helped me manage my emotions better.
- Manage your family relationships – jobs come and go. Network contacts even come and go. But your family relations are critical and you need to invest in your spouse and kids (if you have them), parents, cousins, etc. that are worried about you, and perhaps scared of the uncertainty. If nothing else, make time to take special walks with your kids (individually) to talk, and take your wife out on a date once a week.
- Learn, expand, grow – I think one of the reasons Nadine Turner has enjoyed this transition is because she threw herself into a new area (web 2.0, personal branding, search engine optimization) and really wanted to learn about it. Instead of just reading about it, she put it to the test. When she goes into her new job she will take this new knowledge with her, which will only make her more effective (and add to her self confidence).
- Network – If you don’t believe me you aren’t networking right. My favorite way to network is to have lunch with someone and really get to know them. You can figure out what works for you – but once you start to network the right way you will know what I mean. Just this morning I got an e-mail from Jeroen Latour who said “Man, this networking thing is ADDICTING!” Jeroen is networking the right way!
- Get a coach – Look, I’m a smart guy – I have two degrees and have had a great career. I’m creative and clever. But this is an emotional time. There is no way that I could come up to speed on the things that I needed to, and do it the right way. A coach gives you perspective and accountability – two things that are absolutely critical (well, unless you have a two year severance package).
Is it going to take time and effort to do this stuff? Yes. But I bet it will make you a better job seeker and when your transition ends you will be able to say you “actually had a good time” during your transition.
What works for you? What do you do (or recommend) to make the transition a positive experience?