How to Manage the Job Search Roller-coaster

Wished for or imposed upon, redundancy, job loss and unemployment can profoundly impact our economical and emotional well-being.

According to the American Psychological Association, recent research indicates that unemployment can change people’s core personalities, making some less conscientious, agreeable and open, which may make it difficult for their to find new jobs, particularly as their period of unemployment becomes more protracted.

Although generous redundancy packages make the transition a lot sweeter, there can be many challenges as professionals review their options and step into the job market.

So what can you do to stay upbeat, and handle the roller-coaster ride to new employment?

1. Create a Support Network

It’s hard to manage a career change on your own. Take advantage of any outplacement services, career transition programs or coaching offered by your former employer. Professional support provides the structure, tools and tactics to get you off to a flying start. Even if you’re confident about job-hunting, access this expertise to review your plan.

Reach out to family, friends, neighbours, former colleagues, playground parents and professional contacts – all of whom may be able to give advice and leads during your job search. Cast your net widely, and explore new networks – in person and online. While those closer to you can give moral support, your ‘weaker’ business connections can often alert you to opportunities and provide valuable feedback.

2. Develop a Financial Plan

A lump sum can look very seductive when it hits the bank account. Watching it dwindle as the monthly paycheck stops isn’t as much fun. Analyse the real cost of this down-time, and develop a budget to avoid any surprises along the way. Involve family members where appropriate, especially if expectations need to managed and belts tightened.

And identify a fall-back position now – work you can easily find to generate cash-flow and relieve some of the pressure if things get tough. Once a financial plan is in place, a protracted job search may seem less daunting. If you need help, get professional advice.

3. Nurture yourself

Despite your best efforts, there will be occasions when your job search appears to lose momentum and take a nose-dive. All you can hear are ‘crickets’.

Take a deep breath and make room for both you and the market to re-charge. Regular breaks are good for the mind, body and soul, and help the days pass quickly. Whether it’s a weekend away, a school excursion, an exercise regime, a training course, a home renovation project, or volunteering, any positive distraction will give you something else to think about.

A clear mind will help you to focus on what you’d like to do, where you want to work, and what you offer your next employer. There’s nothing more attractive to a recruiter than someone who can articulate why they’re a good fit for the job.

4. Make a Career Plan

Successful job search is based on a good understanding of what you offer, and what employers want at the time. This involves research, planning, and action. And finding the right balance is critical. All the preparation in the world can only progress your job search if you get away from the screen, and engage with others – in person.

As industries and organisations restructure, the demand for some roles and expertise may shift. Do your own due diligence online and via your connections. Talk to people, seek their advice and input. Identify at least two options, do some scenario planning and be prepared to work differently. If you need to ride out a business cycle, consider new industries that welcome your expertise.

Surveys and anecdotal feedback confirm time and again that around 70% of jobs are found through people you know. Although the ‘visible’ job market can produce good results for some job seekers, the gold is often discovered in the ‘hidden’ job market. It’s important to invest at least equal time talking to recruiters and people in your network. Focus on professional conversations that progress your understanding about your prospects, rather than asking for a job. The more you know about yourself vs the prevailing job market, the better your chances of landing the right role, at least for now.

It takes a network to find new employment, and we all have the potential to make a difference to someone’s job search, and sense of well-being. If you know someone experiencing job loss (whether wished for or imposed upon), please share this post.


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  • This is great advice Mary! Wish I could of had this advice a year ago. It can be disheartening when you are on the roller-coaster ride of emotions on top of worrying about money and everything else. It takes allot of self-care to get through it all!

    • Thanks Nicole. I’m sorry that I didn’t write this post earlier! Hopefully it’s timely for individuals currently going through career transition, their support teams and networks.