People think about job search success in terms of the outcome—landing a job. At BAVC Media, we love when our clients get jobs, but we think their success is defined not by what happens at the end of the search but how clients get there.
Anyone who has been through a job search knows the process rarely goes smoothly. In retrospect, the process can look haphazard and chaotic—a series of ups and downs that really only make sense when clients reflect back on the experience. But it can feel confounding and unnerving when they’re in it.
The ups might look like this:
- Getting called back for an interview
- Meeting that one person who can open all the doors for you
- Moving to the salary negotiation phase
The downs might look like this:
- Being the runner up for your perfect job. Three times.
- Reaching out to 5 people this week to network and only hearing back from your mom (who can’t talk now b/c she’s in the middle of something but she loves you honey and keep your spirits up!)
- Receiving an offer then having it retracted (lost funding, hiring manager left, an internal candidate decided she really DID want the job).
- Having lots of momentum in your search then getting really sick and, just when you start feeling better, being hit by a drunk driver resulting in a totaled car and a concussion (this really happened last month to one of our clients)
Setbacks and life circumstances are inevitable during a search. We’ve noticed that clients who navigate these ups and downs most effectively have something in common—they are predisposed (or easily coached) to taking action, even if it’s a teeny baby step. For the most part, clients can’t think they’re way out of a slump. This isn’t to say that thoughtful reflection is a bad idea. But sometimes people extend so much energy thinking about and explaining their circumstances that they leave no space or energy for action.
In The Startup of You, LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman writes about staying in motion and courting “good randomness”: “When you do something, you stir the pot and introduce the possibility that seemingly random ideas, people and places will collide and form new combinations and opportunities.” In our career readiness workshops at BAVC Media we talk a lot about how job search success depends on clients’ willingness to say “yes” to opportunities and to habitually ask themselves “what’s the next best action to take?,” even if it’s not clear where it will lead them. And especially when they’ve fallen down.
Earlier this year a client of mine was down and almost out. After several months of looking for work, he had run out of job leads, money and hope that he could continue living in San Francisco. We started to craft a backup strategy to relocate and look for opportunities out of state. Right before he was about to give up his apartment, he reconnected with someone he had already tapped during his search. On the surface it looked like a last ditch effort. In reality, and through several twists and turns, it led to a long term, big contract. He’s back up, he’s still here and he loves his new gig.
He fell down, he got back up and he’s on the move.
Just like babies do when they’re learning how to walk. They fall down a ka-jillion times a day. Sometimes this makes them laugh and sometimes it makes them cry. But they forget about their missteps in seconds and they try it again. They don’t give up. In fact, try to stop a baby from their effort and you will be humbled. Nothing gets in their way
Act like a baby in your job search. Know it’s going to be a process and you will have ups and downs. But keep at it. Take at least one action every day that pulls you forward. Be tenacious. Be stubborn. Be resilient. Cry when you’re sad. Laugh when you’re happy. Eat snacks and take naps. Then take a step.
Your next job depends on it.