For the Long-Term Job Seeker Who Really Is Trying Everything

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This post is based on a question that came from a job seeker seeking advice. Her name, types of organizations, and fields of interest have all been changed. I hope you find it useful.

Hi Sue,

Finding the right event and outreach role for me has been frustrating. There’s an Internal Communications position that I could do. Will I start to look unfocused if I also consider positions in Communications? I want so badly to work on promoting events and doing outreach, and yet communications was "part" of what I did. Advice needed.

Hi Stephanie,

I can’t imagine how frustrated you must feel. Even I’m frustrated; you’re too good. By rights, you should have landed by now. 

Not replying directly to your question yet, one idea I have is to change your LI headline. It reads that you are a consultant, not a job seeker.  I know you’re in a bind in that you’ve had really strong feedback that saying you’re in transition turns people off. But with this headline, people don’t know you want to work for an organization. You’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t it seems.  I come down on the side of telling people what you need. I’m sorry it’s so hard.

Do you have any idea who is looking at your profile? Have you received suggestions or requests for freelance work?

What if you said (in your LinkedIn About section), “Currently working as an independent events planning consultant leveraging a background in urban economic development, arts and non-profits to create need-focused events for financial sustainability, over the long term, till the problem is resolved.” That’s too long, but I’d like to read words to that effect. 

Too, make sure that it’s clear that you were an employee in your former work situations so it shows you have been consulting recently, but it is consistent with your experience and preference to be an employee.

Also, when talking with people, it’s important to actually say the words, “I need a full-time job.”  There’s a strong, jealous, idea out there that women whose husbands make a good living can “afford to freelance when it’s convenient.” Might people construe your situation this way?  (It’s not fair or clear thinking, but it happens.)

 

Now to the question you asked. Internal Communications is between people and departments inside the institution, not promoting events, especially, like you love to do.  There is an events “feel” with a series of programs to [one of the job descriptions you sent me], in that it’s about [a topic you’re interested in] and enhancing the way the whole group operates.

The way to apply and talk about this without seeming “unfocused” may be to talk about the purpose and programs that they engage in, all of which are up your alley. If you start to consider an organisation where there are no programs that you’re interested in, this strategy gets harder.

 

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Or you may need more inner work.

Another avenue to pursue is your internal game.  Again, you’ve worked on this, but might there be something left?  A pattern many job seekers have is of underearning, by which I mean that they have almost always earned less than their degree or experience should be able to command.  If this is the case, questions to ponder would be

  • Where else in my life and family am I overlooked?

  • Do I give more than I receive?  Do I feel drained, or get resentful of giving when I don’t get back enough?  (This is a boundary issue. When we give more than is reciprocated, we keep getting more requests for help, but not offers to pay. It’s weird how it happens.)

  • Can I feel affection from people, particularly people I see often? (For some reason this is related.)

  • Do I routinely see the other person’s side before my own? Or as more important than my own? Or as a reason to wait for my own?  Waiting is a sure sign of underearning. It means we don’t ACT like we expect something to come to us quickly, or in time. We continue to offer more while we’re waiting; we don’t say no enough. Patience is not a virtue for some of us.

  • Am I really good at “making do?” Do I put my needs last?  (A real trap for mothers) To receive a paycheck, the pattern is we have to make our own needs and desires at least as important as our children’s.

Or, the obstacle can be in the pattern from a person’s family, such as

  • There’s a piece of work that needs to be done – restoring a lost or outcast family member, resolving a major argument, or a secret to be uncovered about a family member, for instance.

  • Or, some sort of reconciliation needs to happen, even if just in your own mind, with a family member(s), or prior generational values.

If there is something for you to do in this case, it will tug at you. You may just be curious about something. Or, it may be a metaphor that keeps occurring to you that seems out of place.. Over and over I’ve been stunned at how powerful this particular pattern is. We’ve even stopped some searches that had dragged on too long to follow strange threads.” In these cases, once the situation was resolved, the job came very fast – less than a month, even just 1 week in one case. The person’s availability was already known in the community so it was easy. They were at peace.

This message is probably not what you were expecting, but it’s the best I know to offer you.  You really have worked hard and well on your search. This indicates that there is another pattern at work.  It may be time to stop your search for a bit and follow your heart and grieving to see what shows up.  It’s a scary proposition, but it’s been consistently effective for long-term (a year or more) unemployed clients.

There is a gift in every transition.  So far I haven’t heard yours.  It’s really hidden. But there will be one.

 

Take care and please let me know how this works for you,

Sue Nelson

p.s. We have Social Hours from time to time where job seekers gather to discuss what their experience is like in real terms.  Perhaps you would find them encouraging.  I hope you will join us at the next one.

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