As human nature goes, we tend to go out of our way to get involved and do things that we find pleasurable and enjoyable. The opposite is also true, and we generally avoid doing things that we find unrewarding, difficult and stressful. So it’s no surprise that for most of us, continuing to put a lot of enthusiasm into a job search becomes harder and harder if the results we expect and hope for don’t materialize.
After a period of time, (and it will vary from person to person) you may become so frustrated and annoyed with getting little if any positive results from a job search, that the temptation to just pack it in and quit looking becomes pretty attractive. Instead of a lecture attempting to convince you to keep looking, I just want to illuminate the consequences of making a decision to stop seeking employment. You are an adult and can decide for yourself your course of action and have the right to choose.
To begin with, making a decision to quit looking for work, when you previously were engaged in trying to find a job is an admission of failure and it’s important to consciously recognize that. Failure in and of itself isn’t actually a bad thing though, and it’s important to also recognize this truism. Just as an Inventor fails and fails numerous times before eventually reaching success, each one of those failures provides a lesson; a tidbit of information that suggests doing something different, or a combination of different things to arrive at the desired result. So be brave enough, and wise enough, to look at yourself in the mirror and say, “I’ve failed” and think about why.
Along with failure, it’s only natural to tie in your self-esteem. When we fail, we tend to personalize the situation. “I’ve failed, I feel bad”. There are essentially two different responses having to do with self-esteem that can be associated with failure. One is to acknowledge failure and have lower self-esteem because you didn’t really put all that much effort into it in the first place. The second is to fail, but because of the sincere full-time effort you put in, you can actually feel higher self-esteem because your failure is for reasons beyond your control, not within your control. You can’t control the economy, the number of people competing for a job, the hiring decision, but you can control your attitude, effort and influence hiring decisions.
Unless you replace your daily activities with other things that bring you satisfaction and engagement, you will also be throwing away purpose. Purpose manifests itself in statements like, “I should be doing something”, “I don’t know what to do with myself”, or questions like, “Is this all there is?”, “What will I do with myself today?” A job gives you a reason to get up, get dressed, get out, get doing something productive that provides meaning to you personally. A job search if done correctly, provides that daily structure until it’s replaced with paid employment. If you pack in the job search, what will you replace it with?
Without a job, unless you have a healthy severance package, you will find money might be running out faster than you’d like. Money translates into social inclusion such as when we go out with friends dancing, for dinner, to movies, rock concerts, travel, shopping etc. Without money, you might find invitations to get together to do things steadily drops because people know you are financially strapped. The consequence is isolation.
You may also find that unintended, unsought and unwelcome feelings start seeding themselves in your consciousness. Over time you become depressed, experience social anxiety, become ill-at-ease in public spaces, doubt your abilities, label yourself as a loser, an idiot, dumb, stupid, a reject. All of these dark thoughts can, unless checked, lead to mental illness, and if they go far enough, to acts of self-mutilation and suicide.
But let’s back up before we go too far down that dark corridor. This piece is best intended for you the person out of work who is considering giving up; and while anyone might benefit from the content, you’ve got the power to decide on your immediate course of action. The responsibility is entirely yours, and yours alone as to whether or not you continue to job search with vigor and hope, or you opt to throw up your hands and give up. While this may seem daunting and overwhelming, look ahead to the day you land your next job, and imagine looking back to this very day – today – when you made a choice to re-energize your job search. It will be the decision YOU made that you can credit for future success.
Because job searching involves so many things; resume writing, interview skills, employer research, exploring career options, applications, follow-up calls, skills assessments, cover letters, networking, social media presence, temporary agencies, recruiters, references etc., don’t try to do it all in a day.
Start with small steps you can accomplish and then acknowledge your accomplishment no matter how small. Avoid saying things like, “Yeah but I still don’t have a job”. Say, “I’m one small step closer to finding a job”.
Depending how frustrated and stressed you are, it might take a little or a long time to turn things around. If Life is beating you up, my advice if you are open to it, is to avoid what seems easiest which is to quit. The harder thing to do is rekindle that small single flame of hope, purpose and self-respect and slowly fan it into a flame of pride, accomplishment and joy.