Take That, Unemployment Rate!

It’s been a good 24 hours.  During this time frame I was notified by three people, all of whom have been out hunting for work for at least six months, that they are about to kiss the unemployment world goodbye and start new assignments within the next two weeks.  Each of these people has had major ups and downs during their search.  They’ve all questioned their methods, their marketability, and possibly even their mental health at times (I can only imagine) as they’ve fought through the challenge of finding professional-level work in the current marketplace.  In short, and to echo a point I’ve made several times before, they’re wonderfully normal human beings.

In addition to simply sharing this good news, however, I wanted to pass along an e-mail message I received from one of these three individuals.  While I promised to keep the author’s name anonymous, and am simultaneously embarrassed/flattered by the kind words she passes along, I thought this person’s candid account of what she’s been through this past year would resonate with — and provide hope to — many of you out there who are still in the hunt.  As a career coach, I can only write about the job search experience theoretically, based on the observations and insights I glean from working with clients.  This person, on the other hand, has been grinding it out in the trenches.  Quite recently.  And here’s what she has to say about it:

“Matt:  After 1 year, 5 days and 195 resumes, I received a good job offer.  It was a grueling year; I enjoy working and derive a lot of personal satisfaction from truly earning a paycheck.  In the past year I had to totally re-learn how to job hunt.  It changed from the last time I was in the market in 2002.  I learned to network, network, network, attend (primarily free) seminars and read blogs.

As I prepare to head off to my first day of work on Monday, I wanted to thank you specifically for your blog.  I found it uplifting when I was feeling down; it was the proverbial ‘kick in the rear’ more than once.   I am blessed with the world’s most supportive husband who would tell me it wasn’t personal, but it really helped to get that objective viewpoint from someone in your position to remind me that it wasn’t personal that I wasn’t getting interviews or an offer off of the (rare) occasional interview I did get.   The job market is tough, 2009 was a very difficult year for many, many people and I  had to persevere, stay positive and be supportive to those around me that needed support.   It paid off; I landed a good job with a good company and I am happy.  Now if only I could help some of the wonderful unemployed friends I have made in the past year find jobs, I would be thrilled!

What I loved about this note, aside from the obvious, was that it accurately captured several very important factors related to the modern job hunting experience.  In fact, if you wrung it out in a glass, I think you’d have a pretty stiff drink of career wisdom.  To me, the author’s testimony illustrates that:

1)  Finding a good job right now, on average, takes a lot longer than most people think
2)  The job hunting process is not the same as it used to be; you must be willing to learn new ways of promoting yourself
3)  Tons of help is out there, if you look for it, including a universe of free blog content and access to numerous networking support groups
4)  The encouragement (or lack thereof) that one gets on the home front, especially from a spouse, can be an instrumental part of one’s success or failure in this process
5)  Perseverance and a positive attitude are critical ingredients to success; don’t neglect them or leave them to chance

Additionally, one also can’t help but be impressed by the incredible thoughtfulness this note displays, both directed towards a complete stranger (me — have I mentioned that I’ve never actually met this individual?) and toward the many fellow job seekers that she encountered during the past year.  This “pay it forward” attitude might, in fact, end up being the single greatest silver lining of the  recession when we look back in the rear view mirror.  The battleship of self-absorption is turning and people just seem, well, to be acting a little more conscientious and compassionate these days.  Not everybody, mind you, but enough that it might have a lasting impact on things, even when we’re back to “normal” and the economy starts to hum again.  Who knows?  Maybe the adversity is bringing people together?  Maybe that’s the only thing that ever does?

Ultimately, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see whether any lasting positives come out of this tough period on a societal level.  For now, though, let’s forget about the macro picture — and simply celebrate the success of three more individuals who have weathered the storm and found their way to a new “port” of employment!

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2 Responses to “Take That, Unemployment Rate!”

  1. Matt,

    When I say your blogs are heartfelt, pragmatic, insightful contributions to job seekers, I say it from the point of view of both a career coach colleague and from the point of view of an independent business person and a fundraiser for a great nonprofit. In the nonprofit world some of us call it ‘friendraising’ as well as ‘fundraising’. And, isn’t it the same work, whether finding a job, finding a new client or finding a generous donor?

    Thank you!

  2. Thanks for sharing the good news, Matt! The “Pay It Forward” approach is indeed a positive one. I’m wondering why professional organizations haven’t stepped forward to help professionals in between jobs by making their programs and memberships more accessible. Extending their reduced ‘student rates’ to events seems like it’d be an easy way to help professionals caught in the economic downturn to stay connected to their industries and potentially make valuable job contacts.

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