Thursday, August 18, 2016

Good News, Job Seekers: You No Longer Have to Network

Networking ranks with public speaking as something introverted and shy people desperately want to avoid. During a job search, however, networking is the best way to get hired. As I’ve said previously in the Shy Job Seeker Blog, employers don’t like the hiring process any more than job hunters do. Most employers would rather hire people they know and people who are recommended or referred to them. So making human contact, as painful as it is for introverts, is a key way to find your ideal job.

I recently attended a presentation by Bill Baldus, Career Center Director for Metropolitan State University, at the National Career Development Association (NCDA) Annual Conference. Because many people are intimidated by or have an aversion to the word networking, he discussed whether it should be called something else, such as connecting or reaching out.

I recommend the 365 Days of Networking Blog to job seekers. [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
I recommend the 365 Days of Networking blog to all job seekers.

It’s an interesting idea: Does using a word other than networking make the action and process more palatable to and doable for introverted, shy, and scared job seekers? My first reaction was no. Introverts dread approaching someone they don’t know, especially with a purpose or goal in mind.

But the more I thought about it, the more I warmed up to the idea. Perhaps an introverted job seeker just needs to say hello, introduce himself or herself, ask a question about what brings someone to a gathering, and ask for a bit of career or job-search advice. Perhaps if the stakes are made less important—all I need to do is say hello and introduce myself to two people, for example—it is easier to take action. If all an introverted job seeker needs to do is make a connection or two today, and another connection or two in a few days, networking becomes less stomach churning.

Of course, no matter what you call it, making contact with other people during your job hunt is necessary. But look at it this way: If you can tell yourself to make one contact today and another one tomorrow, you will most likely hit pay dirt soon and shorten your job search. You will also meet some nice people who are happy to help you in your effort to get hired.

Bill Baldus has been making one networking contact every single day for 365 days “to demystify this all-important skill and make it doable by illustrating ways it has actually worked for people.” He is writing about his experiences in the 365 Days of Networking blog. Check it out and let me know if it helps in your job search.

Monday, August 1, 2016

10 Ways to Guard Your Health After Job Loss

When you are laid off or fired, your physical and emotional health may be at risk. Many studies have confirmed this fact. In addition, I have observed how layoffs and job loss have negatively affected the health of family, friends, and colleagues. 

Common emotional reactions to job loss include anger, shock, grief, embarrassment, stress, helplessness, confusion, fear, anxiety, sadness, negativity, insecurity, irritability, hopelessness, loss of identity, boredom, and loneliness. Physical reactions may involve weight change, sleeplessness, low energy, high blood pressure, and a disheveled appearance. Plus, it's easy to develop bad habits like napping all day when you don't have the daily structure and responsibilities of a job.

So when you are unemployed, you must make staying healthy a conscious priority. Here are some suggestions.

Guard Your Health After Job Loss [Shy Job Seeker Blog]
Take care of your health,
 especially when unemployed.

  1. Exercise to relieve stress and enhance your overall health. Be sure to get physical exercise most days, if not every day. After all, you now have the time. Lack of time is a big reason many people don’t exercise. You don’t have to spend money on a pricey gym membership. Walk, hike, run, do yoga, and bike ride. Get fresh air to clear your head. Look for free fitness programs and classes at your local park. Do a variety of physical activities to keep boredom away. You will feel better, look better, sleep better, and be less prone to depression. You will improve your weight, blood pressure, and other health metrics.
  2.  Eat right to stay or get healthy during unemployment. Sign up for a free website or app that helps you track calories and physical activity. Stay away from fast food and restaurant meals, which are costly in terms of calories and cash. Avoid the temptation to snack mindlessly because you are home. Learn to cook if you don’t know how; it will pay off in many healthy ways because you can control the ingredients, including salt, sugar, and fat. Plant a garden for the freshest vegetables.
  3. Keep a stable sleep schedule to stay in balance. Without a work schedule, it’s easy to stay up late and sleep late. You may find yourself napping or nodding off in the middle of the day. So I suggest that you strive to keep a sleep schedule similar to one you had while working. It’s healthier and will keep you bright-eyed and energetic during the prime job-searching part of the day. Don’t be caught sleeping while others are getting job interviews and getting hired.
  4. Spend time on your appearance. Shower, get dressed, and do basic grooming every day. Get haircuts regularly. Not only will you look and feel better, you'll also be ready for job hunting.
  5. Get out of the house. Sitting alone at a computer all day gets most unemployed people down. So meet with friends, take a walk, go to the library, attend networking events, and find job search events.
  6. Avoid substances like drugs and too much alcohol. You may enjoy a temporary relief from stress and worry with one more drink. But becoming dependent on any substance will lead to nothing but trouble. Find other ways to relieve your anxiety or boredom.             
  7. Seek the company of people who are positive and encouraging. Don’t be embarrassed or withdraw from people, especially family and friends, when you lose your job. Many people have experienced the same loss and pain. You will likely hear sympathy and supportive words when you share about your unemployment. You may even get job leads. Talk often with those closest to you and ask for their love, understanding, and support. Honestly share your anger, fears, concerns, and thoughts about the future. Let your job loss make you all closer.
  8.  Take action to avoid depression, boredom, and hopelessness. I recommend you create an active daily job search plan that includes networking with others, participating in a job club, contacting employers, and getting free resume and job hunt help at your local American Job Center. Avoid sitting at the computer all day to increase your chances of finding a good job. Also consider learning a new skill, taking a class, volunteering in your community, or helping a neighbor.
  9. Reflect on your feelings and your future. Any life change and transition can be difficult. But change also can open your eyes and open doors. So regularly set aside time to think about how you are progressing, where you want to go, what you need to do, what you need to change, and how you are feeling. If it helps, consider meditating or journaling.
  10. Promise to stay positive. A negative attitude may be understandable given your situation, but it won’t get you anywhere in the long run. Know that it may take time to work through your emotions, but promise yourself that you will stay positive and keep moving forward. You owe yourself nothing less.
After losing a job, you need to guard your physical and emotional health, which are tied together. By taking care of yourself after a job loss, you will give yourself something to control and will help yourself move forward. I hope the suggestions above will keep you healthy in mind and body and ready for any opportunity.