Just two weeks ago now, I wrapped up an intensive two weeks working with a group of unemployed people who were job searching. While 4 of the people in that group obtained employment, 6 are still looking.
One fellow in that group previously worked in the field of IT. He shared with me that he had battled some personal issues with depression and anxiety, requiring him to actually exit the workforce for just over a year and take care of his mental health. When like him, you open up and trust someone enough to share such private information, you do yourself a huge favour.
For starters, you openly acknowledge a setback, demonstrate trust in others, and because the language you use is past tense, you even help yourself by realizing you’ve moved forward from where you were. Movement you see, is critical to repairing self-esteem and ones confidence. Overcoming such an obstacle and personal barrier means you can similarly overcome other barriers too because you’ve already done it; and unemployment is a barrier to success.
So he spent two weeks applying for work with some professional guidance and ended up with a few interviews. As it turns out, those interviews were with people representing placement services, and in his mind they weren’t really equating the same as an interview directly with an employer. I’m happy to say that he recently achieved just such an interview.
The thing I want to point out because it’s significant is that this fellow is doing something which the others in the group who are still looking for work have not done to date and that is staying connected. He has sent me a few brief emails keeping me advised on the job search, success obtaining interviews etc.
In response to one such email, I replied with, “So how did the interview go?” Now how long do you think it took me to prepare and send that email to him? Not very long is it? Yet that brief email to him communicated more than the six words alone. It sent a message to him that I am interested in his job search, interested in his success; interested in him.
When you are looking for work it can indeed be isolating. I’d venture to say that almost all the people whom I’ve had in my employment workshops say that what they truly appreciated from the group experience was the support of others, the feeling of being included and valued. When a brief two weeks comes to an end the key for those still looking is to maintain momentum by continuing to use all those great ideas and tips they picked up but it can be very tempting to fall back into poor daily habits.
I received a reply to my email by the way. In his response he mentioned how things had gone in the interview, and how he found he wasn’t as anxious as he’d been previously. This was no Recruiter, but an actual employer. I smiled as I read that the person doing the interview had trouble maintaining eye contact and seemed more nervous than my job seeker.
I was so proud of him because he told me that he’d been asked what he knew of the company and he’d done his homework in advance like never before and was confident in his answer and thinks he really impressed the interviewer. Awesome! He was still therefore continuing with the discipline and putting into practice the concepts I’d shared and it was paying off. And then he thanked me for my ongoing support.
Did you catch that? He thanked me for my ongoing support. You see that means a lot to someone who has been struggling, gains some measure of inclusiveness and then is back on their own again looking for a job. It’s like that song, “Don’t forget me when I’m gone” by Glass Tiger. And I haven’t.
Some really solid advice for anyone working with a professional Job Coach or Employment Counsellor is to always take the initiative and responsibility to stay in touch. Let’s face it, most professionals these days come into contact with a huge number of people either on their caseload, or through their daily exposure to job seeking clients. The reality is that you’ve got 1 person to stay in contact with, while the professional might have 50, 75, 100 – maybe 170, with more added every day.
With those kinds of numbers, it isn’t that you’ve been forgotten, it’s that there isn’t sufficient time to take care of ones daily tasks and then think to phone or email all 170 or so people and say, “Thinking of you…what’s up? How can I help you out?” So if you crave that ongoing support, you’ve got to take the relationship on as your own to invest in and make it your goal to stay in touch.
If you are in need of ongoing support, (and not everyone wants this), drop in unannounced, make an appointment, place a phone call, send an email. Share what your successes and struggles are. Go so far as to ask not to be forgotten! Staying visible keeps you in their mind if opportunities arise that you might be perfect for.
One last idea is to drop a line when you do succeed and are working long after you’ve notified that person you found a job. Tell them how you are doing. That could be helpful down the road!