The Highs and Lows of the Job Search

Charles Dickens certainly got it right when he talked about the best of times and the worst of times in his novel Tale of Two Cities.  When you are in job search mode it is so easy to get excited about a potential opportunity and it is natural to start assessing what you would do with the organization and how you can lead this entity to the promised land.  Of course it can be so very demoralizing once you are informed that the search committee went a different route and unfortuantely you were not chosen.  The rollercoaster is so exciting but once it ends it can certainly be a downer!

I have always instructed individuals who are going through a professional transition not to get too excited about a potential opportunity and likewise, never get too depressed when unfortunately the position of your dreams doesn’t come to pass.  Obviously it is easier said than done and when you are in the middle of the process the emotions can be extremely raw. 

Living with a job seeker, in many ways can be just like living with a teenage daughter.  The emotions can indeed be out of control on many facets and it is the role of the parent, in the case of a job seeker – spouse, partner, friends and family to keep you as grounded as humanly possible.  Moody may not be the all-encompassing word you are looking for but it sure comes close.

In a conversation with a family member today the question was raised “Are you tired of smiling?”  Don’t get me wrong, I do love the process, I enjoy meeting new people and I do feel a certain accomplishment upon completion of a great  interview,  but it is only natural to yearn for some stability, some closure and the ultimate prize – a job offer.

Another comparison to a job search is having your house on the market for sale.  You are obviously always on show and you always need to keep the house in showcase condition.  You best bake an apple pie to give that special For Sale smell because if you, just once made dinner with onions, sausage and garlic you know for sure that in 5 minutes someone will indeed be wanting to look at your house.

There is nothing more envigorating when you are in job search mode to receive positive reinforcement from head hunters and search committees.  Being advanced to the next level of the search can make your day or week!   It almost makes you want to yell out, in Sally Fields form “They Love Me, They Really, Really Love Me.”  Matter of fact no one would blame you if you did exactly that.

The reverse is so true when you are rejected, for whatever reason.  I know everyone can make excuses; “the job wasn’t right for me,” “there must have been an insider” or “who wanted to move to East Podunk anyway.”  You can rationalize it but in reality you need to pick yourself up and move on to the next potential opportunity.  Afterall, this wasn’t the first time you were rejected and God-willing it won’t be your last.

The difficulty is that in most cases you won’t ever know why you were not selected.  Of course we all ask why but the answers are so rare to be shared.  Maybe in reality we really don’t want to know the truth; the truth can certainly hurt at times!  One expert suggests that maybe you should contact the candidate who got the job and ask him/her their unique technique for success.  I really think the likelihood of a factual response  in such a case is exceptionally low; so don’t expect worthwhile information to assist you in your next situation.

Probably the best advice anyone can give is to make sure you constantly moderate your highs and lows in your job search.  Moderating your expectations can certainly be a plus during difficult times and is probably appropriate even when you are gainfully employed.

A Job Search is a Marathon Race and you need to make sure you are in the best of condition possible for the entire 26 miles.  It might be a personal victory if you are the leader at the 10 mile marker;  but I can’t remember who that was at last year’s Boston Marathon – can you?

In answer to that question -YES I am tired of smiling – but think of it this way, it is good practice for the ultimate victory!  Enjoy the process, enjoy the people you meet along the way and who knows, just the right situation may just be around the corner.  What does Charles Dicken’s know anyway?  He lived in dreary, rainy London which is bound to depress anyone!


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