I am working with multiple clients who are making huge life and career changes in the midst of our anxiety producing economy. One of my clients is in graduate school, more than a few years over 40 and completely changing his career trajectory. When we meet, I am inspired by his courage and his determination. I can only imagine how jolting it is too know so much and be treated like you are just beginning again.
Many of us in the United States, in the changed economy, are beginning again. And if we acknowledge it, we know that we are going to have to begin again fifty more times in our lives.
As my client gets ready to enter a new job market he also has a depth of skills from his old career. He is combining a past career in a creative field with a current Masters in a technical field. He has demonstrated persistence, adaptability, and stick-to-it-ness. It is clear to me that he has a multitude of skills to offer and is developing a clever response to a lay off and the downturn economy.
Yet he is still not getting noticed.
Even in his intern position people are not making use of the skills he has to offer.
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I know that it is very hard to get a job in this economy. I have seen the statistics. And it can be difficult to prove how your other skills apply in a new field. But, I think something deeper is happening. The sticking point is not just the skills we have. Rather I think it is the energy we project as we try and get the gig.
Once you have been turned down 3, 4 or 14 times during the resume, internship, or application process it is very hard to keep your head up. I was depressed and held little faith when I graduated in 2008. Rejection is exhausting. And future employers and colleagues can sense when you have already given up on yourself.
The job hunt, the career change, applying for school, finishing school, starting a business, maintaining a business requires two things: Persistence and confidence.
The very same two things under attack when you are beginning something new.
Does it feel like the universe is testing you a little? A lot?
Getting to the next level, the next step, your next dream is hard.
But the more confidence you project and persistence you display the wider the door opens.
Here are two practices I use for keeping persistence and confidence going:
1. Be endearingly annoying (persistence)
Do not give up. Go for one more interview. Ask for a meeting for the fourth time.
The trick is to be endearing while you ask – tap into the part of you that people like.
Ask yourself – what do my close friends and family like about me?
Now use this characteristic energetically. Hold on to that while you pick up the phone and ask directly to speak to the person in charge of hiring, or in charge of student services.
(My friends like my positive energy, joy and ability to see the possibility in a situation. I call on that when I have to call back about a project I applied for.)
2. Challenge the negative the minute it enters the scene (confidence)
You know that voice that plays over in your head when you do not get the interview. Or even as you try to fill an online form? The one that says “Why bother? You’re not going to get it.” And, “You must be really stupid.” And “You’re too young.” Or, You’re too old.”
Catch that voice in the act.
RESPOND with a positive truth.
Say, “I got you!” Then answer the fearful voice with another truth, a positive truth about yourself or a story from the past that deflates the nasty voice. “I have worked before and I’ve done great work for organizations.” “I am young and flexible.” “I am older and have years of experience.” “I am smart, savvy and courageous.”
Oh, and it helps if you find a cheerleader or two. Someone to keep the flame burning when you’re down.