Monday, June 1, 2009

You’re Gonna Need GPS! (Part 3)

I mentioned in the last entry, job searching is not easy and these days, and it's seldom quick. As the Hollies sang so eloquently back in the 60s: “The road is long, with many a winding turn.” (Still love that song!)

For that reason, I’ve suggested with need our own job-search GPS system. We’ve already looked at the need for some help (Guidance) on the journey. And because it can be a “long and winding” road,” I suggested that we need Persistence and Patience.

As we go through this process we lovingly call “job searching” (though it often feels more akin to a circus and we’re the animals jumping though the hoops for potential positions), we learn some important lessons: Job searching is frustrating. It’s exhausting. It’s annoying. It’s tedious. It’s impersonal. (Should I continue? Want to add you own?) And because it’s all these qualities—and more—we could easily become cynical and sarcastic. (Not that you’d find any of that on my blog?) There’s the final element in our GPS which is more than just helpful on this journey, (IMHO) it’s essential.

A Sense of Humor helps

Think back on some of the topics/issues we’re shared so far. Without a sense of humor, I just cannot imagine how anyone can navigate this journey. First and foremost, we’ve seen a system that is so automated that it often reduces the job seeker to little more than an ID number in a computer or words on the page of a resume. This giant automaton is responsible for “reading” our resume in search of key words that will match us with those of the potential employer. Without the element of human compassion, this technological sentry cannot be moved by our glowing narratives of accomplishment or impressed with our extensive, successful experience. An inhuman set of binary codes looking for a series of random terms and phrases will determine if we move to the next level of job searching; a programmed “word search matrix” controls our fate.

But it’s not all about the futuristic computer brains that scan our resumes. I’ve also shared some of the experiences we will have with carbon-based lifeforms—those humans who are also involved in the process, who all too often, have significant similarities to their computer counterparts. There are interviews which seem designed less to get to know the candidate and more like an interrogation of a suspect. I’ve also discussed the reality of age discrimination—that perception that those of us who have been in the workforce since before Facebook was the primary means of interaction are perceived as legitimate in today office as a Royal typewriter at an IT convo.

All of the processes and people can create a unwanted and unhealthy side effect: Stress. That “s” word can best be combated with a perspective that doesn’t take it all too seriously. (Hey, another “s” word)

Of course I’m not trying to diminish the importance of finding a job. And I absolutely recognize the need of having an income. I know firsthand the pressure that comes with not having that regular paycheck. And we all know that being jobless in our culture takes a toll on our self-image and sense of self-worth. (More “s” words there) Emotionally, it can be very destructive.

I’m also not suggesting interjecting jokes into our resume or preparing a stand-up monologue for the job interview. (Actually, because I did some writing for a stand-up comedian, have written scripts for roasts and served as an Emcee, I have mentioned that as one of my skills. But I don’t recommend we try and transform ourselves into Shecky Job Seeker!) This is all about our attitude during the process and in dealing with the people involved. It’s about taking an honest look at what is happening and choosing to see the lighter side. So much of the selection process is outside our control, but our attitude is one thing we can (and must) control.

No, it probably won’t get us a job. But I truly believe it does help us maintain a positive attitude, which could actually help get us a job. (Imagine the impact our demeanor would have if we went into an interview angry, depressed and cynical?)

NOTE: There’s one other “s” word I’d like to briefly include here as well. Make sure you have a solid Support System during your unemployment and job search. (Okay, maybe that is two "s" words)

Your loved ones are important and can provide you with encouragement when you’re down. Nurture these relationships and cherish the people in your life. Unfortunately, new statistics are showing that during this economic downturn, with the rise of unemployment, there’s also an increase in divorce and separation. Don’t try to do this alone. And don’t shut out those folks around you who can give you a shoulder to lean on…or cry on.

A powerful combination: Support and a Sense of Humor. They will help us maintain our sanity (Look, another “s” word) in the midst of what can be a long, unfamiliar trip. What are our options? Perhaps…this!


  1. You may be one of the few (beside me and your husband) who would get that joke!