I’ve worked with lots of folks in career transition. In the US, so much of our ego and self-esteem tied into the work we do. One of the first questions we ask when we meet someone is “So what do you do?” and it’s painful for job seekers to have to answer that question at every networking event they attend.

Yet in order to land a new job, and be successful at it, we need to keep our metaphorical energy barrel full! Being unemployed creates a big leak or even a huge hole in that barrel. Paradoxically, that means we need MORE self-care and MORE energy-enhancing when in a career transition than ever before.

Focus on what gives you energy – working out, dancing, singing, volunteering, spirituality, time with friends – whatever does it for you, get more of that! These things don’t have to cost money either. Go on a picnic. Help socialize animals in a shelter. Volunteer as an usher to see plays for free. Fully utilize all the wonderful movies and magazines and books our public libraries have.

Focus on what you CAN control – and the items above are all within your control. It’s also important to find an area where you can make and impact and see results. Some folks do that by volunteering. Others by completing projects around the house. Others by taking on project work or a part time job.

Do NOT spend all day in front of the PC. Set up an ideal schedule and time block the activities that are integral to your search: networking; informational interviewing; coffee dates; research; LinkedIn time, etc. Once you’ve completed your assigned and scheduled activities, go out and fill that energy barrel!

Be around positive people and do NOT spend all your networking time with others in transition. Go where folks have a job – professional associations, community service groups, religious organizations, etc.

Finally, build in the expectation that you will NOT get a response. Job search is a very vulnerable and very personal process. A non-answer is as painful as a rejection. Actually, it’s almost worse because it feels like you’re not even worthy of being told no.

I help my clients EXPECT that, because I can point to all the other clients I’ve worked with who have experienced the same thing. It’s unfortunate, but it’s normal. It’s the rule not the exception.

So how do you get over it? By building it into your process. In my former marketing life, we would establish a “contact strategy” for segments of customers. It specified what we’d offer them, via what media and frequency. I help my clients apply this to their search.

For example, you use connections to network into a company and speak with someone who refers you to the hiring manager. Day 1, you call and get voice mail, explaining the connection and that you’ll email a resume. Which you also do on Day 1.

Day 2 you call again, expect to get voice mail again, and do. Your message confirms the email was sent and provides an elevator speech version of the “why you” story for the job. You request a 10 minute phone call. You expect not to get a call back or an email back. You don’t.

Day 3 you stick a resume in snail mail, with an appropriately specific and targeted cover letter.

Day 10 you follow-up on both items with a phone call. You expect voice mail and are ready to leave a good message.

Day 15 you email an inquiry as to whether the job has been filled or if interviews have begun. You don’t expect a reply which is why you already have your next step planned.

Basically, the call/email/enlist your contact to call and email/ contact strategy keeps going until YOU decide to stop it. Yep, YOU get to decide when to “take closure” and it’s very powerful and very good for the energy barrel. Going through all of these steps was expected and not hearing went according to plan. It’s not you – it’s the way the process works. But then at the end, you explain that after so many attempts you can only assume the position is filled, no longer available or that you are just not a fit. You won’t bother them again since you know they’re very busy and it’s not your intention to be a pest. And wish them the best of luck.

I’ve often had folks get a call or email back in reply to this “goodbye” step. Generally, folks were “meaning to get back to you”, but then they got busy or something else got in the way.

What I like about this approach is :

  1. At any time, you have possible contacts and job leads in every stage of the contact strategy. So you aren’t giving up on everybody all at the same time. You’re just working your process.
  2. Lack of response is assumed and normal. It’s reality. It’s not you.
  3. You stay in control and it’s very beneficial to your energy barrel. You’re not begging or desperate – at some time you will be done.
  4. The contact strategy outlines the steps to be done and the time frame for each. After you’ve worked your daily tasks on what is in process, you can move to the next activity targeted for that day. And then you are DONE and can clock-out of your job search job and switch to your survival job and/or energy barrel filling task of the day.