Benched In Your Career? Not So Fast!

June 04 2016

Isn’t it amazing how subjective hiring and jobs reports are? If you’re working, that’s great! If you’re out of work or in-between gigs, however, those numbers seem abstract and like someone else’s jackpot.

You must remember: you are not abstract, you are not a number, or an algorithm waiting to be detected. You will be working soon. As I always used to tell loved ones when I was job searching: ‘I can’t make them hire me.” Just keep the faith and be ready to go!

If you’re job hunting, it’s crucial to stay excited and engaged. I know this current job market doesn’t always make sense and chaos, seemingly, abounds. Political theater has gone mondo absurdo, attention spans are microscopic, and connectivity can seem to be a unicorn.

I’m 46 years old and - until I was 38 - the longest I’d ever been unemployed was 9 business days. Mind you, this was before I was specialized or firmly ensconced in my industry, which is media. In my 20s, it was nothing to go from temping for a CFO to working for a Mom and Pop financier (“My husband likes the light to hit his Wall Street Journal just so..…” one co-owner quietly hissed, opening the blinds at a precise tilt, but that’s a story for another day).

Yet, once I got specialized and words like ‘manager’ and ‘analyst’ came onto my resume, when layoffs and buyouts came down the pike hand-in-hand, I was unemployed for much longer than 9 days…try more than 9 months during the last recession.

I know the feeling of ‘everybody’ seeming to have a job while you’re on the bench, ready to be tagged in, thrown the proverbial ball. Networking wasn’t an option for me – jobs were scarce among my peers and I couldn’t afford endless prospecting lunches. Applying for less specialized titles backfired (crickets). When I applied for a job with the New York Times – on the 4th of July – on their website (all against conventional wisdom), that is the job I got 2 months later.

I’ve recently had to follow the above advice all over again and stay in faith and enthused. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else – in life or in your field. Don’t get carpal tunnel applying to every job board notice you see. Create job alerts via Indeed, Simply Hired, or any other credible job search engines. Make sure those alerts are set to a frequency of at least once-per-day in your inbox. Create 50 of them if you have to, you can filter or delete them later. Create Google alerts for whatever will help you in your search. A sampler of alert queries I used: job search engines, free tutorials, journalism, broadcasting, hiring, etc.

Stay active and current on LinkedIn. I can’t overstate how helpful that can be, just for your sanity while in search. Read and be aware of sources (online or print) that cover your industry. If you were called into an interview, what would your take on the current state of your industry be? You just need that one interview with an employer you can contribute to, an opportunity to engage.

In many ways it can seem we’ve taken the long way ‘round, but your career path is yours. Everyone gets their zenith, their time on the ride, so look forward to it. Unless you’re retired, it’s an ongoing challenge but it’s your path, your moment, and joy is there too. Rest, regroup, start again, take a walk (or nap!), start again.

Good luck and I hope our paths cross one day! I’m rooting for you!

Karl Gibson
[email protected]
Los Angeles, CA

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