The prospect of dating in your mid-40s after a divorce or breakup is about welcomed as a shower without any heat on January 3rd.
You feel like you are out in the world, exposed. Those extra tires around the waist, the kids, the mortgage, graying of the temples, you wonder how you will find time to meet The Love-of-My Future. What will she think of me?
Over the last two weeks, I have spent a lot of time with some great men who have been 'married' to their work for years and years and now they are in a place where they have to put themselves out on the market again. I see it in their eyes. The jovial 'I am King of the World' skip in their step initially seems gone, the fear creeps in, they feel embarrassed or some shame around whatever got them to this moment in time.
These great guys brush off their resumes and talk about themselves like they are some Holiday Inn Express instead of the Ritz Carltons they were a year or two ago (and still are) under their post-professional-breakup status. They are just bummed out to be on the job market again and begin to lick their wounds and boost their morale once they come to the realization they have to 'date' again. They have no choice but to move forward.
Guys, you have many choices and here are five thoughts on seizing this unique moment in time:
1) Buy a new tie. You need to feel good about yourself. You need to understand that in one month or three months you will be needed to help another guy out when he is in the same boat. Be that mentor now -- to yourself. Now is not the time to isolate and get down on yourself. Now is the time to practice smiling again, meet, have coffees, connect online, get up early, go to those holiday parties. Share with people you are making a move UP to something great and welcome leads and help. The smile will become more authentic each day you are productive and selling a great new product on the market -- you.
"I wanted my dance card full," said my good friend Ben. "I didn't want to be sitting in the corner by myself waiting for Ms. Right to come talk to me. I kept Starbucks in business with coffee dates."
2) Your mission, today. Who are ten people you respect who are networked and could make introductions? How about sending a letter to your close network about your core talents, what your dream job might be, and ways you can add value to a company. Extra credit if you update and share a link to your Linkedin profile or attach an updated and edited resume. Stop... Write down now five to eight people who likely could introduce you to other good people. I will wait. Send those letters by COB today please.
3) The magic in between. As I wrote in a past post from book Between the Trapezes when a trapeze artist lets go, he doesn't just grab the next bar. There is magic that can happen for you in between. One guy friend basically doubled his network when he was out looking and ended up doing a lot of business with the people who he had reconnected with once he got a great new job. Think of it as brushing off your little black 'professional' book.
'I learned a lot about myself over the last five months from my job search. I learned who I wanted my next partner to be, what she should look like. I also learned that I was out of step with the dating scene and that there were a lot of hot prospects out there for me. If you are flexible, creative and open minded there are a lot of great opportunities and matches out there," said Ben.
4) Meet online. Try out a little professional dating online. 74 percent of companies hired online last year using social networking and even more plan to this year. It's the Match.com and E-harmony for careers. Sit in your sweats with strong coffee and apply online to a few jobs a day and get your mojo back. Try our site that crowdsources jobs www.barrelofjobs.com (especially for small business jobs), jobs on LinkedIn (by the way have you changed your Linkedin to 'job seeker' status?), Monster, Careerbuilder, TweetMyJobs, DICE... there are many good ones! You can also share jobs with friends who are looking or unsatisfied with their current jobs.
5) Career groups and alumni associations. I went to speak at a church recently and was blown away by their career ministry offerings. 150 people looking for jobs were there on a Tuesday night. Services included: resume writing help, help on building an 'A' level LinkedIn profile, mock job interviews and elevator speeches, clothing for interviews, and some meetings with employers. The night was productive and people built great networks of support with each other.
One of the biggest mistakes people make is to isolate quickly and not ask for help. For many there is shame in not having a job, in making a job transition, and fear paralyzes us.
Let's look at this from a different lens. If your friend Jason wrote to you today and said "Hi, I have decided it's time for me to make a career move and am wondering if we could spent five to ten minutes on the phone as I would really love your advice." Would you say yes? Would you be honored he asked you? Most would, so don't be shy this month or next.
Someday, like dating, you will be with your new love and so happy you went out on your journey and found her (or him). She is unique, she is special. You feel proud to introduce her to your friends. She is likely not perfect but brings sparkle to your eyes again. I wish you all that and more in your job search and let's toast to you landing something really great!