Job Hunting When You Have One

Looking for a job to replace the one you have now makes a lot of sense. When you’re looking at the postings out there, you aren’t as desperate as you might be were you not working at all. You can afford to be selective, choosing to put off applying to jobs that don’t fully interest you; jobs you might actually have applied to in your unemployed past.

This job you’re on the hunt for has to pay you more than what you’re making now, be more stimulating, more meaningful and more of a career than a job; any or all of these possibilities. It might have to be closer to home, closer to the cottage, perhaps nearer the person you’re dating, have benefits or growth opportunities etc. Your next job has to in your view, be better than the one you have now.

And there you have it, the reason for looking for some other job; you’re seeking something better than what you have at the present. Lest you think you’re the only one looking for work when you have a job, let me assure you there are a great number of people who job hunt while working.

If you’re out of work, or you’ve been out of work in the past, perhaps you can identify with the anxiety and desperation you’ve felt in past job interviews. The increased pressure to get a job and stop the financial bleeding of your resources. Maybe you remember telling people you’d do, “anything” too. Hopefully, now that you are actually working, you’ve dropped, “Anything” as a job you were willing and happy to do. When I hear people say that – and just yesterday I heard that from 3 people – it’s a sad message to hear. I’ve yet to find the person who will actually do anything by the way.

One problem of looking for a job when you have one is your level of motivation. Most employed people don’t work at getting a new job with the same vigor they’d apply if they were not working. So many skim a few job websites daily, maybe apply to the odd job every couple of weeks or more. You know, there are other things to do that seem like more of a priority. The out-of-work person is more focused, determined, desperate, hungry – take your pick of words.

The upside of looking for work is coming from a position of strength; as you’re already employed, an employer interested in your services has to present something better than what you have now if they truly want to pry you away. But don’t delude yourself into thinking that just by telling them your present circumstances they are going to open the vault and ask you to name your salary. That might be the case in movies or if you’re the potential CEO of a company, but for most of us, it’s just not the case. Still, there’s a reason applications often ask you to state your current employment status and present salary.

One thing you need to address is whether to tell your current employer you’re looking for another job or not. There are clear advantages and disadvantages. On the one hand, you might work for an employer that doesn’t want you using company time and resources to look for work, send emails, go to interviews etc. Then again, some employers encourage their workforce to grow as individuals whether that means advancing internally or sincerely wishing them the best as they move on.

At some point you’ll need to inform your employer. Maybe when it’s down to you and one other person for a job and the potential employer wants to speak with your references. That call to your current employer might not go as well as you’d like if it blindsides them completely. Then again, you might be imagining the scene when you just walk in and announce your impending departure.

I’ve found that people who are looking elsewhere for jobs – for the most part – mentally check out to some degree. As they look for a future with another firm, they stop investing themselves 100% in the job they have at present. If you listen to their words, watch them in team meetings or as they go about their day, they just perform differently. That may be only logical, but your present employer isn’t paying you less as you invest less in them, so you’ve got a responsibility to still deliver on your responsibilities.

If you’re the kind of person who likes to share your thoughts, you might even want to confide in a colleague at work; someone you can trust with your plan to leave. If I can give you one piece of advice on this, be respectful of that person. You might be putting them in some emotional conflict and divided loyalty. Is that fair?

Hopefully you work for the kind of boss who promotes personal development; who wants to see you move up and yes, sometimes move on. These Supervisors invest in the people they work with and share your enthusiasm for something new. They are the kind of people who appreciate a heads up that you’re looking, and give you the time to go to interviews etc. By setting the right climate where you can share without fear, they can better plan ahead for your possible departure.

Good fortune with your search. How’s it going?


Death And Moving On

You may be wondering why an Employment Counsellor who blogs about how to get and keep work would be writing about how to move on when someone close to you passes away. Simply put the two are interconnected and the one affects the other. Like any other post, if you find something useful or helpful, I’m happy to have shared my thoughts with you.

Let’s first acknowledge a few things: 1) We will all experience death 2) Unless we lose our life as young child it is inevitable that people we know will die before us 3) We do not all experience events in our lives exactly the same as other people; there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to act. Can we agree on these three things?

When we’re young we might first experience death in the loss of a family pet; a goldfish or hamster that one day isn’t moving. How we first react to this is often shaped by how our parents respond to us. Do they tell us the creature is sleeping and won’t wake up, do they bark at us and tell us it died so deal with it or perhaps they suggest going out to get a replacement so we don’t have to grieve (and they don’t have to deal with us being overly sad)?

Eventually we find ourselves learning that a person has died. Again, as a child or teenager we look around for clues as to how to act and we instinctively learn that some people cry, some sob uncontrollably, others seem outwardly unaffected, maybe some even look stone cold. Among the various reactions we may find others who have balanced their loss better than others – whatever ‘better’ means to us personally. For  purposes here, better means being able to move forward, and deal with death in a way that doesn’t paralyze the living.

When close to someone, especially someone you’ve shared much of your life with such as a parent, a child or a partner, the bonds between you and that person or those people can be very strong. You have so many memories of doing things together, you may have tremendous gratitude for the relationship and how you feel put into words comes out as love. Who you are as an adult is in part great or small shaped by those around you, and so it is often the case that these people mean a great deal to us; we want them there always.

Whether its unexpected or we can see it coming, sooner or later we find ourselves learning of the death someone special to us. For most people the news of the death comes as a shock itself. It’s hard to believe, we beg the source of the information to tell us this isn’t true, we say we need to go see them immediately and our minds rush back to when we saw or talked with them last. If we happened to be at their bedside, we know intellectually they are gone from this life but even though we were there as they eased away, we’re still faced with that moment when they were here a second ago and now they aren’t.

Now how to move forward? Some people appear to move forward pretty quickly; they know that life means death follows at some point, they’re realistic and know that for themselves life goes on. They mourn losses internally and for them it may be healthy and natural to have no tears to hold back. They are not cold and hard, they are not impervious to feelings nor unmoved.

At the other extreme are those who are themselves debilitated with another’s loss. It’s as if they have shutdown; as if a large part of them died along with the other person. They may for example quit work and 6 years later still claim they can’t take jobs because they aren’t ready. The idea of having an employer offer a single week off to grieve a loss and then go back to work is literally impossible to do and bewildering to imagine.

Conflict, (and I don’t mean fighting but rather tension and being at odds with another’s behaviour) comes when people who are closely tied to the death of a person deal with death in the different extremes. They wonder, “why don’t they deal with this like I am? Don’t they love them the way I loved them?”

Moving on however is healthy and we weren’t meant as humans to die ourselves when others around us do so. So we must eat, sleep, breathe, drink – the basics of living and then do more and more of whatever is our normal routines like cleaning the house, grocery shopping, cooking meals etc. Ever notice how neighbours often come by with meals to support the living?

It’s impossible to move forward with direction if your head is turned looking back. Therefore moving ahead means creating new memories with the living around us while appreciating the time we had (brief or long) with those departed. When you care and love others you also know the day will come when death parts you both with finality; this is no reason to isolate yourself from connecting, caring and loving with the living.

We are all different and how we choose to deal with loss is personal. Be it a goldfish or a person, may you move on as best you are able.


Grieving At Christmas

Are you grieving at this time of year more than usual and feeling out of sorts as a result? You know, there’s merriment joy all around you whether it’s songs on the radio, Christmas cards that arrive in the post, the humourous social media posts that land on your homepage; and somehow you just don’t feel in sync with all that carefree joy all about you.

You find yourself on this pendulum swinging between moments when you get caught up in those happy moments yourself and then feel pangs of guilt as you recall the loss of someone special in your own life. Your laughter and broad smile disappear from your face replaced with stress lines on your forehead and a sombre look of remembrance. One moment you feel happy, then you’re sad, and then you’re guilty again about bringing everyone around you down in spirit. Oh if you could just get back to feeling, ‘normal’; the normal you used to feel in years past!

Welcome to your new normal. The emotions and feelings you’re experiencing are valid, very real and yours to deal with and process to the extent you are able. While normally in control in most areas of your life, it seems like you haven’t yet mastered this specific one; dealing with the loss of someone significant in your life. Try as you might, you haven’t found a way to – as they say – get over it; deal with it; move on.

The fact that Christmas brings along with it words of good cheer from everyone from family and best friends to work colleagues and strangers is well-meaning but only seems to punctuate the feeling that things aren’t usual. “Usual” means that for the other 11 months of the year people aren’t wishing you happy holidays or merry anything.

Think of that pendulum metaphor again. Your balance point looking back seemed to be when the one you’re grieving now was still around. When they departed, you experienced a shift where sorrow, longing and heartache have moved the pendulum. Then at Christmas we see, hear, smell, taste and feel the good; it’s families gathering around singing carols, over indulging in rich foods, their gifts, bright lights in the night, decorations and traditions deeply steeped in family history brought out and on exhibit 24/7 until Christmas is over. All of this swings the pendulum in the other extreme; where you’d normally be happy to go and make merry of your own accord.

But whatever side that pendulum is on at a given moment, you’re private thoughts can’t seem to be a peace with. You’re feeling guilty when privately grieving and feeling remorseful when you catch yourself humming a Christmas song in your head let alone out loud. So yes, you’re feeling out of sorts all the time. Why can’t everyone around you understand this and give you your own space so you can get the pendulum back to the center?

Of course to others, they see mood swings and may feel they are walking around on eggshells trying not to set you off. They want desperately to be of help and support; they worry don’t they? And you of course are wondering why they themselves are seemingly handling things much better than you are. Don’t they miss the departed? Don’t they care as much as you do?

Everybody experiences loss and everyone processes the feelings that go with loss in a very personal way. The thing is there is no set timeline for doing so. People who experience long grieving periods might worry those who don’t, and those that don’t worry those who do because they may come across as unfeeling, callous, cold and detached.

It’s healthy to accept that we all process loss and figure out how to move ahead on our own at our own pace. We know intellectually that death is inevitable where there is life; the day we get a puppy we know a day at some point will come when the pet will pass away. Does this make it easier? Maybe for some but not for all. And things get magnified for many when the loss isn’t a family pet but a family member such as a mother or father; daughter or son.

So here it comes…Time is the answer. How much time? Who is to say? You can no better predict how long you’ll take to deal with your personal loss than you could predict how long you’ll live yourself.

Now this grieving process of dealing with the loss of someone special is identical to the process of grieving over a family pet for some and yes grieving over the loss of employment. That may seem trivializing your loss of a family member but to some people, the shock, anger, denial, bargaining and eventual acceptance which makes up the grieving process is just as real when losing a job and shouldn’t be dismissed as not just as real.

Give yourself permission to have your moments of pain and don’t apologize for your tears of remembrance. These are your own very personal moments and your thoughts are not to be taken as a weakness of character. You should never expect nor hope I imagine to entirely forget the person gone, the pet gone or the job lost.

You will eventually get to where you will give yourself permission to be happy without feeling conflicted or guilty. Your good mental health will return. Do accept wishes for a merry Christmas as they are intended; with only the best of intentions.

The Urge To Quit

There is a very good chance that at some point in your working life you’ll experience the feeling that you’d be better off quitting your job to look for another. While it’s impossible to make a blanket statement that is right for everyone, you should take those feelings seriously and consider packing it in.

I suppose really it’s going to depend largely on how often you get the feeling; is it just now and then or do you feel the job isn’t right for you on a regular basis? Of course the other thing you should examine is where these feelings are coming from. If you realize that you feel this way once a month and it’s always at month’s end when some big report is due, you might rationalize that most of the time you really do enjoy your work; that you could perhaps find ways to make adjustments in your daily ‘to do’ lists that make end of the month reports easier to compile. Maybe this kind of strategy would make you feel differently; perhaps better.

However, if you find yourself almost constantly going in to work with a growing and nagging feeling of just focusing on leaving the job altogether, you should really consider moving on.

The best way to quit your job is when you have another to go to for most people. So when you are working, it’s always an extremely good idea to keep your resume up to date. By doing so, you will be well positioned to make small adjustments to it when you spot an ad for a job you would like to apply to, or should you meet someone in a position to help you along.

Most employed people do not bother to update their resume. After all, they work and don’t see the need. Not only do they not see the real need, they don’t like resumes in the first place, so why bother to update a document that isn’t on a person’s favourites list of things to do.

Many individuals who are not happy in their jobs stay however. Why? The appeal of what they’ve got outweighs the risk they’d have to take to move on. Even if they are offered a job elsewhere, they hesitate and opt not to move on because they’re afraid that if they quit their present job and the new job doesn’t work out, they’ll be stuck with no job altogether.

Now I get that; I really do. There is an element of risk in quitting what you know for something that doesn’t come with a guarantee. However, consider the risk in staying put doing a job you’ve come to intensely dislike or dare I say it come to hate. That’s got to affect your mental health, your positive outlook, your happiness and yes your work performance. No employer is going to be oblivious to the unhappy worker who isn’t performing at the same level of other workers. The logical consequence of this is that you’re going to be identified then as a growing problem and instead of worrying about quitting, you may find yourself fired.

You my reader, deserve better than this! Now remember, I’m talking about feeling like it’s time to leave on a regular basis. The occasional bad day here and there when you briefly think of working elsewhere is normal and healthy. The people who do this and stay are making conscious choices to stay in jobs they generally like or like quite a bit; but their open to considering possibilities elsewhere.

So what to do? Well for starters, yes you should update your resume. Pull out any performance evaluations that you have in your desk at work and take them home. Look them over for positive comments made about you and your performance which you could use later should you be asked in a future interview, “How would your Supervisor describe you?” If you leave them at work and ever get let go, you may not have access to these valuable resources.

Second, get a hold of your current job description from Human Resources. This too is something you should take home and leave there so you can update your resume with some of the language contained in it.

One thing that is going to help you along is to start looking for new jobs in your spare time. You’ve got the security of a steady income at present, but discipline yourself to look for another one at least 3-4 times a week. If you don’t know how to job search using technology, now is the time to find out. Many advertised jobs make you apply online using a computer so if your skills are weak in this area, take a course or get someone who is computer savvy to help you out.

You may notice as you start to take the initial steps of looking for another job that you feel a little better at work as a result. Mentally, you’re starting to detach yourself from what you see as a bad situation and this proactive movement will feel good.

Consider alerting your family and friends and business contacts too that you’re exploring other employment options just in case they hear of opportunities you may be interested in.

If you are fortunate, you may work for an organization that actually encourages movement from within and if so, look at the internal job postings. Moving on could be the best move you make.