Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Reduce job hunting stress
Stress for Success
July 12, 2011

There’s significant stress when under- or unemployed. You can’t eliminate all of it but you can manage much of it. Here are some considerations:
· Get your budget under control: What have you cut? Where can you cut more? What’s your Plan B if you don’t get a job soon: bring in renters to help with your mortgage? Move in with family until you’re back on your feet?
· Gain perspective: Ask yourself, “What’s the worst, best and most likely outcome of my situation?” Plan for the worst and hope for the best. Your answers could range from getting a job today to ending up on the streets.
· Be grateful for your options, like accepting public assistance or family loans.
· Create an employment file to avoid reinventing the wheel for every job application. Include the paperwork you’ll repetitively need: diplomas, certificates, and cover letter template that you customize for each submission.
· Stick to a disciplined schedule: It’s easy to become a depressed couch potato when out of work so schedule your days to instill discipline. Perhaps Mondays you’ll check opportunities on-line and follow-up on existing contacts, Tuesdays you’ll network, etc. Schedule breaks, too.
· Develop a job hunting plan: Don’t apply for every opening just to stay busy. Why go through unnecessary rejections with jobs you don’t fit? Instead, identify employers you’d like to work for and those for whom you’re qualified to work.

Next, set realistic, specific goals and time frames for contacting prospective employers. E.g., apply for at least three positions weekly, spend four hours daily networking and researching, update resume by this Friday, etc.
· Use a data base with its invaluable follow-up reminders to manage your contacts, results, follow-up, etc.
· Research the unlimited on-line information for likely interview questions, resume writing tips, etc.
· Rehearse interviewing with friends or family using plausible interview questions.
· Stand out from the crowd in this competitive environment: Be punctual, dress appropriately, use good grammar, etc.
· Update your skills for your area’s job market realities.
· Get help and network: Get a coach if you can afford one. Network with others in your industry to stay up on trends and opportunities. Volunteer to get the skills you need. Ask for help for any skills you lack from budgeting to interviewing.
· Seek a balance between making things happen and letting them happen. Avoid becoming obsessed with your job search. Balance it with recreation and time with family and friends. However, if you’re on a perpetual break, you need to put more energy into making your job search happen.
· Learn from each rejection. If someone else got the job, seek to understand why you didn’t. Learn from each “failed” interview to improve for your next.
· Protect your health by eating and sleeping well. Exercise daily and find humor in your circumstance to create emotional balance.

Job hunting is stressful enough. Manage what you can so your resilience will be greater for what you can’t control.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at http://www.letyourbodywin.com/bookstore.html and request she speak to your organization.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Perfectionism, procrastination, pessimism sabotage job hunts
Stress for Success
July 5, 2011

If you’re going through a stressful job search, I hope you allowed yourself to enjoy the holiday weekend and took time off to relax and renew. Now it’s back to the job of finding a job.

How much stress you face when unemployed is influenced by several factors, including:
· Are you an optimist or a pessimist?
· Are you mostly unflappable? Or do even small disappointments throw you off balance?
· Do you react to life circumstances with guilt or are you relatively free of this emotion?
· Were you an executive with a generous severance package or were you laid off without notice?
· Have you lived within your means or paycheck to paycheck?

These considerations contribute to the degree to which you feel out of control due to your job loss. The sense of losing control creates anxiety and prospective employers can smell insecurity a mile away.

Establishing greater personal control reduces anxiety, which allows your enthusiasm, self-confidence and composure to shine through. Reduced anxiety also helps you stand out from your competitors by positively influencing how you feel about and how you project yourself, like during interviews.

To reduce your anxiety, avoid these three traits:
· Perfectionism: Getting lost in making every detail of your updated resume or your job search tracking system perfect wastes time. Reduce how your perfectionism expresses itself. Only allow yourself to be “perfect” in areas that are very important to your job search.
· Procrastination: Putting off the undesirable, normal as it is, also causes anxiety. Perfectionism is often a method of procrastination. To minimize it write your specific job search goals along with the steps to achieve them with firm deadlines for each step. Assign your spouse, a friend or a coach to keep your toes to the fire to meet these deadlines. Be forgiving of yourself if you don’t meet a goal here or there. But if you miss most of your deadlines, you’re procrastinating.

For example, estimate how much time is required to apply for three jobs weekly then establish a firm schedule to accomplish this. If researching, contacting possible employers, sending out resumes and following up require four hours then set aside an untouchable four-hour time frame to get it done. The sooner in the week the better as it helps you feel better about your accomplishments, which can motivate you to apply for more jobs this week.
· Pessimism: It’s easy to feel down when you’re down. Counter all negative assumptions with real evidence – not just positivity. Counter “I’ll never get a job in this competitive market,” with reminding yourself of other jobs or assignments you’ve landed that were also competitive. Every time your mind goes to the negative, refresh your memory with your successes. Focus on your strengths, the benefits you offer a prospective employer and on what’s hopeful rather than your anxieties.

Tempering these traits reduces fear, which automatically increases personal control, leaving space for your hope and energy to expand.

Jacquelyn Ferguson, M. S., is an international speaker and a Stress and Wellness Coach. Order her book, Let Your Body Win: Stress Management Plain & Simple, at http://www.letyourbodywin.com/bookstore.html and request she speak to your organization.