“I’m sorry, I have to let you go.”
Words every working mother dreads hearing! Your mind goes blank, and you range from anger to despair in a 24-hour period.
We all know that a job search can be stressful under the best of conditions. But in the world of COVID-19, how do we stay in the right frame of mind to be successful in today’s job search? Little did I know when I began writing Take Control of Your Job Search! 10 Emotions You Must Master to Land the Job that it would be published under the bizarre set of circumstances we find ourselves in today. There’s never been a more complicated and emotionally challenging time to be in the job market. These times require us to tap into a new level of awareness of our emotions to not only succeed in our job search, but sometimes just to make it through the day.
So how do you tap into your emotions to make sure you are presenting yourself in the best way? First, give yourself some grace, acknowledge that it’s OK to have negative emotions, and allow yourself to really feel what you are experiencing. Your first inclination after being laid off might be to rush out into a job search and immediately start sending out resumes. But if you try to cover your emotions up before fully dealing with them, they might make themselves known at the worst possible time, like during an interview or at the dinner table with your kids.
If you’re sad about being laid off, or if you are angry about it, set some time aside periodically to dig into those emotions. Let it all hang out in a safe way. Journaling is a great way to peel back the layers of all the different feelings you might be experiencing. Another way to get your emotions out in a safe way is to meet up with a friend for a walk and vent.
Sometimes our emotions can get the best of us and we don’t even know it. That’s why it’s so important to surround yourself with people you trust and who will be totally honest with you. I urge people to create a “super team” for their job search, which is like your own personal board of advisors. You’ll want professional contacts who know your industry or field as well as leaders you respect who can share their perspective on your approach to the market, give feedback on your resume and even help you with mock interviews. You’ll also want friends or family or possibly even a faith leader who can help lift your spirits when you’re down and remind you of all your great qualities.
One of the best ways to keep a positive attitude during a job search is to experience a sense of accomplishment on a regular basis. Build a job search action plan so you can have the satisfaction of crossing things off the list. Don’t know where to start? Here are a few key components of a successful plan:
- Get clear about what kind of job you are looking for (role, level, industry, geography).
- Work on your personal brand. What is the No. 1 value you bring to an organization? Ensure that your brand shines through your resume, LinkedIn, etc.
- Research open opportunities and target companies.
- Network your way into building connections at those target companies.
- Practice interviewing (both in person, video and phone). Prepare to share your brand through success stories from your previous job.
- Set your priorities (salary, benefits, flexibility) for when it’s time to negotiate.
- Build in to-dos for each of the main bullet points, and make sure to celebrate your progress and your wins along the way.
Finally, in the age of COVID, with lots of competition for jobs, you need to do everything possible to stand out. The importance of networking cannot be underestimated. I’m sure you’ve heard that most jobs are filled through networking. This is true, and the data backs it up. According to a study by Lever Recruiting, you’re 10 times more likely to be hired when your application comes in through an employee referral than just applying online.
Networking helps you in your job search in other important ways as well. Spending 40 hours a week in front of the computer clicking “apply” is a sure way to build frustration and anxiety, and leads to a very lonely existence. Try reaching out to old friends and colleagues on Facebook and LinkedIn with an authentic desire to connect personally. Most people want to help others these days, and reconnecting with someone you haven’t seen in 15 years can be fun too.
Managing your emotions during a job search is more important than you might think. Creating a sense of well-being while job searching these days might seem like an overwhelming task, but it doesn’t have to be. Give yourself grace, surround yourself with a strong support network and build and work your plan. Your family will thank you for it.
Lauren Herring is CEO of IMPACT Group, the largest woman-owned career coaching company supporting over 200 Fortune 500 companies worldwide. Over the past 30 years, IMPACT Group has successfully helped hundreds of thousands of people find jobs. Additionally, Lauren has donated IMPACT Group’s services to thousands of individuals in underserved communities, helping them to find jobs, dignity and economic independence. She has received the Gamechanger Award by Workforce Magazine and has been published or quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Fast Company. When not running her business, Lauren can be found running the streets of St. Louis while training for a triathlon or spending time with her husband, Ted, and two young children.