By Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady
Job Searching: The Good Days
Some days will be amazing. Within a half hour of waking up, you receive an invitation to do a phone screen, notice another hiring manager accepted your LinkedIn connection request, and receive a message from a recruiter for a role that looks promising. Everything is going great for you. Hearing that good news fills you with hope about the future. You feel appreciated, valued, and worthwhile.
Soon, you’re updating your budget, making that overdue phone call, and cleaning your whole kitchen. You use that extra burst of energy to start preparing for tomorrow’s phone screen. Today, you are productivity personified.
Job Searching: The Not-So-Good Days
Then there are the other days. You check your email and read, “We will not be moving forward with your application,” then move on to “We regret to inform you,” then finish up with, “This position is no longer available.” You’re not even out of bed, and you already heard you weren’t good enough for three jobs you really wanted.
Now, all that good news from the previous day seems irrelevant. Your email has become a scary place where everyone is mean. You hop onto LinkedIn to look for new jobs. While looking at job listings, you fixate on the one or two preferred qualifications you don’t have. You start to customize a resume for one job, then stare at your screen, trying to figure out why anyone would bother hiring you. Now, you're not going to have it in you to be a high achiever.
Struggling to Succeed
After a three-rejection morning, you may feel like a failure, and everything is hopeless. Despite how it feels right then, you are not lazy, a loser, or a failure. Instead, you have probably been going too hard for too long and have little to show for it yet.
In addition, you have probably been relying on the overly simplistic getting-things-done strategies people often bluster about. If your only plan for success involves hammering away, powering through, or pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, you will have problems. It’s an excellent time to remind yourself that bucking/soldiering/cowboying up is not a long-term sustainable strategy. It is a short-term fix you can use occasionally when you have no other options. Making that once-in-a-while solution your go-to move will leave you irritable, burned out, and feeling like the failure you most certainly are not.
Sustainability and Your Career Transition
Yes, you are trying to find a job. Yes, you are trying to keep your finances in check. You also need to be able to continue to keep going sustainably so you can persevere as long as your career transition requires. You won’t be able to push yourself beyond your limits consistently for very long. Given that many job searches last between a few weeks and several months, you will need to find a way to sustain the effort you’ll need to achieve your job search goals.
Your Basic Self Care Daily Task List
There is an art to writing a helpful task list. This basic self-care list includes items that are valuable, easy to achieve, and can be checked off definitely. You can also update these lists to reflect what makes the most sense to you in your life. This is not your "I have accomplished miracles" list. Instead, this is your "I did the basic things I need to stay well so I can prioritize to keep going" list.
Modifying The List
This is a good starting point for a basic self-care list. If moving for 30 minutes is too much for you right now, make it 10. If making your bed helps you feel better, consider adding that to your morning list. If you do a load of laundry daily and put it away, fit that in where it makes sense. If you take your vitamins before bed, do that.
Do what you need to to do make it yours. This basic self-care list will help you feel better on your hardest days. On an easier day, you'll breeze through these items with no problem and move on to conquering the world.
7-time layoff survivor Brenda L. Peterson, The Layoff Lady, waxes poetic on layoffs, job transitions, & career resilience.