In job search, don’t get caught flat-footed by success

In a topsy-turvy economy, good news often comes as a surprise. Even the most qualified, sought-after professionals feel shocked when their resumes win the attention of hiring managers. They’re stunned when selected for interviews. Dumbfounded when offered jobs.

I work with job hunters all the

time, so I am privy to the challenges and the rewards that they face. I witness the frustrations and opportunities. And the trends. I recognize that job searching can be extremely difficult, but not unbeatable. And despite similarities, the act of job searching is different for everyone. The process can be long or short. Easy or hard. It is not always the same scary, impenetrable beast reported in mainstream media and griped about on blogs.

And yet, the truth remains: The economy isn’t what it used to be. Many of us are forced to deal with unbearable situations right now — such as unemployment, debt and foreclosure. In a crowded job market and uncertain economy, most job seekers expect to fail.

I’m not a doctor, but I imagine that this type of pessimism — expecting failure — can lead to sadness or depression. I know for a fact that it causes highly skilled people to doubt their abilities and lose confidence in their careers. If success is impossible, why try? Why hope? Why make an effort?

Not long ago, I heard from a job seeker who was frustrated by a long, unproductive job hunt. He felt dejected and discouraged at first, but his emotions eventually evolved into anger. He grew sick of hearing about unemployment and poor market conditions, tired of dragging his feet. Rather than sitting back and settling for a negative outcome, he decided to take control of his career.

He revamped his presentation and began networking with a vengeance. He also changed his strategy; instead of sending his old, ineffective resume to every e-mail address he could find, he methodically targeted four potential job channels — recruiters, personal referrals, job postings (in the newspaper and online) and businesses that didn’t publish current job openings. A short while later, emails and phone calls started rolling in. Soon he scheduled his first job interview. He should have been proud of his tenacity and thrilled by the opportunity. But the next time I heard from him, he was speechless and astounded. Frozen in place.

What does his reaction say about his confidence in himself and in the job market? Despite his best efforts, he didn’t expect to succeed.

Luckily, it didn’t take long for this dedicated job hunter to step out of his stone-cold amazement and prepare for the actual interview.

Yet, this man shouldn’t have been stupefied at all. He had the guts to take an honest look at his job search. He admitted that it wasn’t working and didn’t give up; he changed his tactics. It was impressive, really. And it was no surprise that his actions produced impressive results.

The lesson? You can shift the course of your job search. You can change the game. Success is right around the corner, so figure out what you need to do … and do it. When hiring managers start asking for interviews, don’t cower. Show them what you’ve got. While you’re at it, pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

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