Job Search Alternatives

Let me try and related a story I’ve made up, just to prove a point.  I hope this comes across well (I like telling stories but I usually need months go perfect them).

Image you go to a restaurant every night for dinner.  Every single night you have a nice dinner… sometimes there is something new on the menu that delights you, but you can always count on something that is just fine.

Then, one night you go only to find out they are out of food.

The doors are still open, the lights are on, and the servers are still there.  You can even hear cooks in the kitchen making noise.

But there is just no food.

What are your options?

You can keep coming back, night after night.  But there is just … no…. food.

When do you stop coming back?  Where can you go for dinner?

What if you went to the restaurant across the street?

What if you went to the restaurant across town?

Could you go to a restaurant in another city?

Could you possibly make your own dinner at home?

These seem like reasonable alternatives.  They might be out of your comfort zone, but they might help you get food in your belly.

How does this relate to your job search?

Many job seekers are finding there is no food in their restaurant.  The doors are open, the lights are on, the cooks are in the back making noise, but there is no food.

What are the options?

Going across the street is like looking for competitive companies in the same industry… that might be a great alternative (depending on what’s going on with the industry). I think too many are stuck doing this in an industry that just isn’t hiring, though, and you spin your wheels.

Going across town or to another city presents some major inconvenience but there comes a time when the hunger trumps convenience and it makes sense to look somewhere else (while staying in your profession/industry).  Or, maybe you have to switch professions or industries AND go somewhere else.  I know someone who recently took a great opportunity in Detroit, moving his family many states away.  Good move, or dangerous?

Making dinner at home might be like starting your own business, or consulting or freelancing.  It is scary, and nothing is certain, and you’ll have to learn a lot of new skills. But isn’t there a difference in the quality of food that a restaurant prepares compared to your favorite signature dish that you’ve perfected?  Making your own can be so very rewarding… working on your own can be, too.

I’m not suggesting that these are the only alternatives to a job search, but if you get miserable enough, and can be honest with yourself while you read the writing on the wall, perhaps it’s time to look at alternatives.

What are other alternatives I’ve missed? … or, how’s this story/analogy?

5 thoughts on “Job Search Alternatives”

  1. Another alternative: Ask the restaurant manager why there is no food and what is the problem behind this. Then think about a solution and present this solution to the manager and maybe he likes it and you’ll get the job….

  2. Thought-provoking post (as usual) Jason, and the other thought that came to mind with this post is that many job seekers are going to that “restaurant” and looking in the same place.

    The strategy of looking for a job has changed so dramatically and I don’t know that I can pull it into your analogy but for example, if going to that restaurant means searching online on the major job boards and not doing any interactive and personal connecting, the results will be like going to the restaurant. You might very well be able to stay in the same industry perhaps 30 to 90 miles from your original position if you are actively participating in your job search.

    Reaching out beyond the one “restaurant” is scary… you might have to “eat” something different. But you might be surprised and really like it.

    Again, I loved your options and the analogy.

  3. I’ve been struggling with this one too, and I like this analogy, Jason. I would add these variations:

    * Going to the same restaurant every day, and ordering the same thing. But, they are always out of it. Maybe they’ve even taken it off the menu. So, do you find another restaurant or change your order?

    * Going to the same restaurant every day – say, one of those gigantic buffets with everything from sushi to pizza – without knowing what you want to eat and only one plate to use. Then, do you end up eating the first thing you find, even if your very favorite food is just a little further down the serving line? Or, do you try to pile everything on your plate but then nothing tastes very good? So, for the next time, do you check out the whole buffet first, or do you figure out what you want before you enter?

    Related analogies I’ve been trying to work out for people who have no target job or job search focus – going to a massive library for “something to read.” Or going to a fabulous department store, with a lot of time and money in your pocket, to buy “something” as a gift for someone. I think the restaurant idea works better.

  4. Love the analogy. Here’s another variation:

    * Walking up and down a street of great restaurants reading the menus in the windows, but being too timid to go into any of them and opting for easy, fastfood instead.

    * Ordering the same dish night after night after night, even though you’re tired of it, because its familiar and you are scared to venture into new taste experiences and you’ve read stories about people who tried those other dishes and didn’t like them.

    A big part of a successful job search is pushing the boundaries of our comfort zone, both in terms of the kind of work we look for and the strategies we use to find our next great job.

  5. Wow, Wow! This is a fantastic analogy! It reminds me of the book “Who Moved My Cheese” which is a cute story about change. I highly recommend that book!

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