Constructive Criticism When You Are At The End Of Your Rope

There is light at the end of the tunnelOn a job seeker Yahoo group that I’m on we saw a sad plea for help that ended like this:

Can anybody please give me any constructive suggestions. I don’t need slams or criticisms, I do that to myself enough. Any help would be appreciated.

I don’t want to post the entire request here because I don’t have permission to, but this is from an accomplished professional who has family and bills and all that stuff tugging at him, his job search has been fruitless, and he’s about to get his utilities cut off and his cars repossesed. It’s pretty bad. Here was my reply to this plea for help:

[username], wow, this is a painful e-mail, I’m sorry to hear about your trials. I went through a very difficult, non-fruitful job search last year and it changed my life. Here are some of my non-preachy thoughts:

1. What is your name? I’d like to do a Google search on you and see what others find when they want to find out more about you. Do you have a LinkedIn profile, a blog, any articles, any mentions online?

2. When you say “worked all of my contacts,” I’m trying to understand what that means. Do you have a weekly or monthly e-mail (like a newsletter) that you send to your contacts to keep them apprised of your situation and progress? I found that a lot of people didn’t seem helpful but it was either because (a) they didn’t know how to react to me, an unemployed guy, asking for help, or (b) it was out-of-sight-out-of-mind. Just letting them know that you are still fighting to find a job, and letting them know about what you are looking for, may prompt them to think a little harder.

3. Do you attend a local network meeting? I found the contacts at these meetings, over the months, were excellent. I would gravitate towards people that were really good at networking OUTSIDE of this meeting, and we were able to share leads in a big way. There should be at least 2 or 3 people that you can hook up with that will provide you emotional strength as well as good leads from the networking that they are doing.

4. Do you have a job search coach? This isn’t necessarily someone that you pay (you can’t afford that, as per your e-mail below), but you should be able to find someone that can help you and ask “I really need some help. Would you be able to be my job coach, meet with me weekly, and hold me accountable for my job search?” This person should ensure that you are doing the right things in your search, and will have an interest in your success. Do not underestimate the power of bringing someone in to help you (but, not your spouse).

5. Do you do volunteer service? You should look for some non-profits that could use your help and go give your services to them, like a consultant. This is an excellent way to meet new people AND show them how competent you are, and they should be able to help you meet others (lots of professionals and execs work with non-profits).

These are just some thoughts off the top of my head. Please hang in there, I know how horrible this is, and you aren’t alone, even though it feels like it.

I don’t push JibberJobber, even though I want to (I’d probably get kicked off the list if I did).

If someone has reached out to you in the last couple of months about their job search, please follow up with them today to see where they are at. You never know, they might be ready to give up on their search (or life), and just a call or invitation to lunch can make a huge difference in their life.

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6 thoughts on “Constructive Criticism When You Are At The End Of Your Rope”

  1. Anyone who has been out of work (been there) around the holidays (been there too) can probably feel the pain and sense of desperation at least a little harder. If you know someone who is in a similar situation as the person Jason mentions in this post, reach out and make that call, even if it’s not to invite the person to lunch but rather to let the person know you’re thinking about him or her. If you’re in the position of being unemployed and searching as the holidays approach, find at least one thing to do every day to keep your spirits up and move toward the goal of re-employment.

  2. Jason, aren’t these stories crushing?

    No matter how good you feel, after hear their tale of woe, they just bring you down. And, imho, that comes thru in all that they do. As an “experienced transitioner”, meaning been out more than I care to admit, I work with these “hopeless cases” very carefully. I find that they subconsciously will make it YOUR problem.

    I know I’m harsh with them. But sometimes that’s what they need.

    I have my “turkey farm” for just such as that person. I have five in all the available stalls, and four wait-listed, (Hey, I’m free but I can only type with two fingers. And, turkeys will suck you dry. And, I do have a real job.) Otherwise, I’d volunteer to help. Heck, if someone asks, I usually try to help no matter what the load. But, using a twelve step program on a turkey going down for the third time is NOT the type of help they want. They want you to either give them a job or find one for them. No one can do that for them.


    I think your advice is spot on. The only thing else I’d ask is: Do they have a networking profile, resume, LinkedIn account, Plaxo Account, and what is there geographic / financial comfort zone?

    Sometimes, turkeys can’t see their own flaws. I’m reminded of: the fellow who had the three year gap in his resume; another who want a job that didn’t exist anymore; and another who was way out in left field comp wise.

    When some one is having ZERO results, I’d look for a GIANT blunder in their methods, strategy, tactics, or technology.

    Even inept turkeys usually find somewhere to roost.

    (I can’t believe I’m saying this.) Why don’t you aim him at me and I’ll see if I can make magic. I’ll be burning some vacation time. Maybe I can help?

    Seasonal greetings.

  3. It’s such a shame that so many job seekers feel like they’re alone in their quest for a job. Your advice was right on and I would also add moral support to the mix. Having someone on your side telling you that you ARE going to get a new job and that the rejection they may be facing doesn’t mean they are less of a person.

    This time of year is especially rough but with the right support system, people can make it through the season.

  4. This is exactly why building a social network, including a LinkedIn profile, can help you when this type of situation arises. Imagine having an active Twitter group where you can say “hey, I lost my job today, I need to get something fast. And please keep poking me to stay positive. Thanks”

    I’ve seen this work in a matter of hours. Social networks are passionate about their connections and will do what ever is humanly possible to help them out.

    Wow, how incredible it is to have these type of tools available today. As Heather said, it’s a shame that people feel they are alone when looking for a job.

  5. It is possible to have friends, a network and coaches and still end up in the situation described. The statistics of the job market and the economy are very bad. My first comment is to take any kind of temporary job possible that you are able to do. Obviously, if you get motion sickness, you can’t drive a truck. But if you can drive a truck, it could pay $18/hr. The main thing is, build up a string of positive references, even if it’s from doing handyman work. If the embarassment is too much, do the work in another community. Also, I hope that the person involved is doing a national job search. All job applications and searches are national and even international. Relocation to an area with more openings may be necessary. I had to relocate and many other people from my home state have had to leave. The web contains studies of the best cities to find a job. Unfortunately, in today’s economy the name of the game is SURVIVAL. The stock market crash of 2001 was not called a crash, but it was a crash. Now there is a housing crash. We have been in a recession since 2001, in spite of what professional economists say. Permanent jobs are down, wages are down, and prices are up. If you are educated and young enough, consider enlisting in the military. The military has a shortfall of 3000 officers. Hopefully, the current war will not last forever. Realize that nowadays the name of the game is survival and not prestige.

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