The Double-Whammy of Rejection and Isolation
A reader of Recruiter Musings recently added the following comment: “Probably the three hardest elements of a job search are organizing your time, battling feelings of isolation and keeping up your enthusiasm as your efforts are constantly rejected or ignored.” I agree wholeheartedly with that sentiment! I’ve already addressed the issue of organizing your time in great detail in a prior blog posting. [Read “Time Management: Recipe for a Well-Balanced Job Search” for more details on that topic.] Battling feelings of isolation and keeping up your enthusiasm in the face of rejection are topics that are very much connected to each other … and I thought they deserved a more thorough treatment here.
Being rejected or ignored is a regular part of the job-seeking routine. It’s the nature of the beast. Sales people may be used to facing rejection on a daily basis … but most others are not. Emotionally, that can take a huge toll on a person’s attitude, which is a big problem when maintaining a positive attitude is so critical to a job-seeker’s chances of success. [Read “The Power of a Positive Attitude.”] Professional sales people do not fear rejection, nor do they take it personally. They simply plow forward, knowing that the more times they hear “no,” the closer they are to a “yes.” However, I realize that job-seekers are not all professional sales people, and rejection is much harder for some to handle than others.
In addition, job-seeking can often be a very lonely experience. It’s often said that looking for a job is itself a full-time job. That job is much like being self-employed and/or working from home, which is a situation that invites feelings of isolation. Job-seekers spend a great deal of time alone – in front of their computers, researching companies, searching for job leads, trying to figure out who to contact for networking, etc. That isolation combined with the repeated pattern of rejection can be a real “Double-Whammy” … and a very tough combination for many job-seekers to overcome.
While there is no magic pill that will turn a negative attitude into a positive one, or permanently cure loneliness … there are many things a person can do to help break out of the isolation and negative patterns of job-seeking routines. Most of these ideas have the same, simple and obvious purpose – they are designed to get you up and out of the house, and interacting with other live people. Putting meaningful, job-search related appointments on your calendar, getting dressed up and out of the house, and meeting with other people does wonders for the psyche!
Following are just a few concrete suggestions. Parts of these were copied from my own prior blog articles here on Recruiter Musings, so regular readers may recognize these ideas. Still, when put into a different context, I feel they are ideas that are worth repeating and expanding upon here:
- Reach Out to People and Set Up Meetings:
The internet is a wonderful tool for job-seekers. It can also be a huge distraction and waster of time. Make sure you are not spending your days in front of a screen without having actual meaningful conversations with people that are part of your job-search plan. Answering online job postings is probably the least effective way to find a job. Limit the amount of time you spend doing that to under 10%. Sending emails to targeted people is often a good first step in the right direction … but in the end, direct live communication with actual people is the ONLY way business gets done, decisions get made, and people get hired. Overcome your fear, stop worrying about rejection, step outside of your comfort zone and PICK UP THE PHONE! Then, whenever possible, set up face-to-face meetings with people who are either target contacts, or people who might lead you to those targets. Meet with them informally at first – for coffee, breakfast, lunch, etc. The more meetings you have, the more likely it is that you’ll advance yourself up the networking ladder and uncover new opportunities that you would not have heard about otherwise. [For strategies on how to reach out to potential new contacts and set up meetings with them, read “Targeted Networking: How to Effectively Reach Out.”]
- Join New Networking Groups
There are some really great local Networking Groups (sometimes called “Job Clubs”) in almost every community. They’re easy to find with a simple Google search. Many job-seekers attend regular meetings of those groups, and derive a lot of help, guidance, and advice … and also meet many other job-seekers who can often be very helpful and supportive. If you’ve already been doing this for a while, you many find that attending those same meetings month after month can get repetitive – and you keep seeing the same people over and over. If so, try seeking out a new local group or two and drop in on their meetings. You just may find a fresh perspective, hear a new idea, or meet new people that you can add to your network. Break out of your rut! [As a starting point, check out his state-by-state list of job-seeker support groups: "Directory of Networking and Job Search Support Groups by State."]
- Take Classes and Acquire New Skills
Being out of work provides you, for better or worse, with an abundance of extra time on your hands. Consider expanding your knowledge and skills during your time off by taking a class or two. Public libraries and local community centers have many such classes that are often totally free, or very inexpensive. Government subsidies are also available to help pay for many other programs and courses – often of a technical nature – designed to “re-train” people by expanding their skill sets and make them more marketable. Besides acquiring new skills, taking classes gives you a sense of purpose … and also affords you opportunities to meet more new people!
- Do Volunteer Work
Many job-seekers turn to volunteer work as a way of staying busy and feeling useful while unemployed. Besides the obvious personal benefits that come from the act of giving of yourself, sharing your time, helping others and upping your “karma” score, volunteering can often get your “foot in the door” with a company that might potentially hire you in the future. Showing people what you can do, how well you can do it, and demonstrating your exceptional work ethic – even if it’s not in a paid position – can bring you to the attention of professionals who notice such things, and reward them when opportunities open up. And again, it surrounds you with new people that you can interact and network with. You simply never know who you’ll meet – and who those people may know – until you put yourself out there!
Hopefully, you’ll see a theme emerging here. It’s all about people contact – both on the phone, and (more importantly) in person. The more people you meet and network with, the less likely it is that you’ll feel isolated and alone, and the more your attitude will improve. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again here: Networking is the best way to spend your time as a job-seeker. [Read “How to Network: A Step-by-Step Guide for Job Searching” for more details on the mechanics of networking your way to a job.] The more meetings you set up, and the more live conversations you have, the closer you’ll be to hearing that illusive “yes,” which is your ultimate goal!