January 3, 2012
Job hunters, resolve to impress yourself
If you were living around 4,000 years ago, in the vicinity of ancient Babylonia, your New Year's resolution would have been to return all of the farm equipment you'd borrowed over the course of the year. Apparently this was all the rage back in those times, according to historians, and that's how the whole tradition got started.
Nowadays, however, I'm willing to bet you've resolved to do something a little more along the lines of losing weight, getting in shape, saving more money or quitting a bad habit. Most of us these days tend to own our farm implements outright, after all. But no matter how you slice it, the end of the year is always a great time to contemplate some significant change and consider tweaking aspects of your life that you feel could stand a bit of improvement.
There's another time, though, when some focused change and committed self-improvement can also do you a huge world of good. It's during a period of job transition.
If you've ever gone through the loss of a job, you can appreciate how quickly it can send your life spinning out of control as you are forced to deal with the sudden disappearance of perks, benefits and routines that most people take for granted in everyday life. The lack of a paycheck is obviously the biggest pain point felt by many folks. The departure of additional items such as job titles, professional identity, familiar routines and workplace relationships can also be highly distressing factors, as well.
All of these items usually add up to a big ball of uncertainty that can rattle almost anybody -- and with this uncertainty, in many cases, comes a corresponding drop in self-confidence.
The best antidote against this erosion of confidence? According to many experts, few things go further to boost one's self-esteem (in an authentic, non-pharmaceutical way) than to consistently "impress oneself" via the accomplishment of challenging goals.
Most of us tend to be our own toughest critics, after all. We've got Siskel on one shoulder and Ebert on the other. And no matter how much moral support we may get from our friends and family, in our heart of hearts we know whether we're pushing ourselves to reach our full potential or just dogging it, skating by and allowing ourselves to become passive victims of circumstance.
So if you're going through a period of career transition at the moment, or find yourself thrust into such a situation at any point in 2012, remember that successful job hunting isn't all about the tactical process of looking for work. These periods can also be the perfect time to buck tradition and commit to new life goals and resolutions, outside of a career context. There's no need to wait until the new year rolls around.
Years back, for example, there was a guy I knew who played volleyball with me at Green Lake almost every day. My friends and I had noticed that this fellow, who was one hell of a player but rather slender in frame, had managed to pack on about 15 pounds of muscle over the course of a couple of months.
When we asked his wife about it, she said, "Yeah, doesn't he look great? Tom's been hitting the gym every morning for a few hours, before he starts his job-hunting activities, and while I obviously want him to find a new job, boy, I'm sure going to miss that awesome body!"
Not sure if Tom can still bench press 200 pounds, but for whatever it's worth, he did end up finding a great job shortly after that ...
So even though it may seem counterintuitive, I'd advise you to consider making a serious self-improvement resolution ANY time of year if you've lost your job and are looking for work. Is this the time to finally lose that extra 10 pounds you've been carrying around? To train for and run that local triathlon? To finally quit smoking, learn Portuguese, or rebuild that old Chevy sitting in your garage?
While not as directly search-related as, say, sending out a resume, these are the kinds of things that will keep your self-confidence high and help you maintain belief in yourself -- a vital component of maximizing your attractiveness to employers!
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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