I remember sitting in the parking garage of Washington, DC's Sibley Hospital on the phone with my career coach Syndee Feuer. My vertigo and emergency appointment with the doctor would have to wait. I had a more pressing issue to discuss: my job search.
It had been 45 days. No light bulbs were going off yet. Why had I not figured out my life, my next career? Was something wrong with me? It was probably my darkest hour and I was distraught. My dizziness wasn't helping either, or the three hours of sleep I got the night before.
"Julie, you need to give this some time. You are doing all the right things," said Coach Syndee of Careertactics.biz. "For every $10,000 you want to make, it means that's another month for your search."
Believe it or not I did not believe it would take that long to get a good position. The challenge for me was to find something entrepreneurial. I felt great about leveraging my network, but her words strangely calmed me down a lot. I suddenly realized I had to gear myself more for a marathon, not for 100 meter sprint.
New info in hand, Coach Syndee and I discussed a few more strategies including: following up on a hot new lead that came through a LinkedIn contact, and how I should handle an upcoming job interview. But it was hard to focus only on the positive. I couldn't help but ponder my financials, how I would ask my husband for an allowance or dig into retirement account. I envisioned my first summer off in 20 years and, odd as this may sound, that prospect was not appealing.
Reflecting back now, during a busy and fulfilling summer at Barrel of Jobs, I realize how easy it is to let go of your sanity and confidence in the midst of the unknown variables of a job search.
Have you been there?
Here are six steps to restore your sanity during your job search:
1) Call a friend or a career coach. Who is that someone to talk you off a ledge in those dark moments you feel like Rocky III pummeled by Mr. T? Find that friend or if you can, hire a career coach who can also help you with your cover letter and resume.
2) Get up. Get off the mat. Now is not the time to be hard on yourself. That would be like Rocky Balboa punching himself in the face when he already is down for the count. Think of that theme song, "Eye of the Tiger." It's about focus and not losing your determination. Ask yourself: What are three productive action items I can focus on today and tomorrow?
For example, I made a list of 10 people I admire and determined that I would reach out to them. I also contacted a few recruiters with my updated resume and sent a letter asking for yes, HELP. And I sought advice from two leaders who both ended up helping me and introducing me to three companies hiring.
3) Words that change perspective. Every day I said to myself 'Julie you can't steal second base with your foot stuck on first.' It reminded me that I took great courage to make a change, reinvent myself, build again. I had left first base for an unknown great new challenge. My friend Karen also taught me a stress relieving breathing exercise. 'Breathe in faith... Breathe out fear.' Repeating that ten times is remarkably therapeutic.
Speaking of conquering fear, I also found it helpful to channel my good friend Michelle Lee from STG International, who started as a librarian and built a $180 million business based out of Alexandria, Virginia. I asked her how she was so successful when I interviewed her for a video project on top entrepreneurs. She looked at me with steely determination and said 'No Fear! I have no Fear!' I realized how crippling fear is and how useless an emotion it is, especially on a job search. No fear became my adage! We all feel fear, that's natural, but confronting it head on and moving forward despite it was my new strategy. 'No fear!'
4) Plenty of fish in the sea. Even in this economy. Spend time looking for opportunities on social media. You may be surprised to know there were over 10 million jobs were posted in the 50 largest markets in Q1. Go to Indeed.com, which aggregates other sites and put in your zip code and a few job titles. It is amazing to realize how many jobs are out there. Also check out Barrel of Jobs, our social media start-up that helps people get jobs. You can also make a barrel of difference through sharing jobs with others. There are already many technology and sales positions listed on the site, with hundreds being added weekly from leading companies like The Advisory Board, WeddingWire, New Signature and Deltek.
5) Remember you are not your work. I needed a hobby, something to remind me my identity is not just my work. I love to sing so I started voice lessons at the International School of Music and sang my heart out to Broadway tunes and Abba. The words in the songs were cathartic to me and I even hosted a few karaoke parties at my home to sing and laugh. Whatever you love, do it. Perform yoga, join a book club, help out at the humane society, hire a new fitness trainer. Do something that puts you into a new environment where it doesn't matter what you do for a living.
6) Don't Stop Believing... in yourself. You are all you've got. When you believe in yourself others (especially people interviewing you) will see you as someone they too can believe in, enough to be a great new executive and invaluable member of their team and company.
Following the six steps above will help your job search and your sanity!
BEFORE YOU GO
CORRECTION: In an earlier version of this story, Syndee Feuer's last name was misspelled. We regret the error.