06/27/2013 02:55 pm ET Updated Aug 27, 2013

Inspiring the Jobless

Where does the jobless person go for inspiration? For strength to keep going till there's work?

Is it the hope that unemployment will pass?

Hoping for work can be a challenge. Because, there is no time frame for finding a job. The myth of the logical, step-by-step process for finding work might create the illusion of a time frame. But the reality of job search is that it's like a special little planet where anything can happen. Not much inspiration there.

Can a jobless person take the day off and get recharged? Sure. At the cost being jobless one more day. The jobless have no holiday. They are always unemployed. While the working world can draw the breath of relaxation and even inspiration on a holiday or birthday, unemployment isn't marked by the passing of the seasons or celebrations of birthdays or anniversaries.

Can success stories inspire? Perhaps. But the job search success story starts with a whopping disadvantage. It is always about someone else. Am I inspired when someone else gets a job?

Not as much as I'd be inspired if I got the job.

Every job search and hire is different. All seasoned recruiters and talent managers know this. So just how inspirational can someone else's success story be?

It can only be inspirational if it resonates with the reader. If the reader nods their head and says, "I might be NOTHING like the person in this story. But the way they found work? I can take something from their story and use it for myself."

These "new thinking" success stories begin with the assumption that "what happened to me would never in a million years happen to you." There is no preaching. No telling someone else. "Do what I do."

And because it is a principle, and not an instruction, the success story opens up the possibility that each individual jobless person has the hope of using the principle in their own unique way.

These new kind of success stories come from people who have read "Finding Work When There Are No Jobs" and have started thinking differently about the way they find work. Like for example:

Jeff from Atlanta writes:

"I read your story of Dr. Martin Luther King tossing the baseball to the little boy, and I thought about how what I really do at work is bring unity. The financial turnarounds I've put in place at [the CPG firms where Jeff worked] were really all about unity. I know how to unify a team. It's what I do. I started talking about that, my 'unity stories' at a backyard barbeque a few weeks ago. Turns out a new neighbor was an HR VP. Long story short, he brought me in and I start next week. All that from reading a story about Dr. King. If somebody would have told me that was possible before it actually happened? I wouldn't have believed it."

Elaine from Boise writes:

"I don't know what it was about that story of the elderly woman at the church who was a leader. Maybe she reminded me of my grandmother. But what the story really made me think of was all the ways I was keeping my own leadership skills hidden under a bushel basket. Everybody told me I had a great resume--but how do you really say anything about leadership on a resume? Just after I came to this new thought, I ran into an old friend at Walmart. I started talking about leadership and before I knew it, she told me about a friend who was a partner in a new business that was just getting off the ground. More than anything else, they needed a fast moving leader. I connected with the friend. We met in a coffee shop. It wasn't really a job interview, it was more like a planning session. I remembered your stories about music, because the Van Morrison song 'Astral Weeks' started playing. It's about my favorite song ever . . .so inspirational. And by the time we were done with our coffee, I had a job."

Jeff and Elaine broke through the tired, stale, soul killing grind of practicing job search as if it was a logical process. They took their own unique paths after thinking differently about finding work. Resumes, interviews and networking meetings and end runs around gatekeepers were not the stars of these stories.

The stars of these success stories were principles--that can be used by anyone. Principles like:

  • A person tells their story to highlight what matters most.
  • Adds music.
  • Builds and works community.
  • Brings higher purposes, like "unity" into the mix.

Where's the inspiration here? Not in false hopes or magic answers.

The inspiration is the tiny flickering spark that comes when you read the story and say to yourself, "Well, that's not me. But what if I... "

Then you finish the sentence. The inspiration is in the hope, however small, that if you try something new, something could change.

Inspiration is like job search. It's personal. But a success story that prompts a reader to think differently about finding work has the potential to inspire.

Ever hear a job search success story that inspired you?