What are your feelings about looking for a job during a recession or down time?

I understand it’s a bad economy and many people are struggling.  However, during any economy there are lots of people who make money and manage to achieve their goals.  Even during the great depression there were people who adjusted to the environment and were successful in identifying opportunities.

During a recession in the mid-nineties, I had the good fortune of meeting Zig Ziglar who recently passed away.  As you probably know, he was a motivational speaker and perhaps one of the only people who got the best of 60 minutes in his interview with them.  In my case, I spoke to him one-on-one and he had some great advice that I would like to share.

At this time, I was quite discouraged and negative.  Mr. Ziglar suggested that the recession is actually something that largely exists between people’s ears.  He said, he is making lots of money and would I agree to not participate in this recession.  In other words, would I refuse to let my self be sucked into my own negative thinking and look for opportunities rather than reasons why I may not succeed.  To make a long story short, I succeeded in getting more interviews and landing a job quickly.  As he was fond of saying, it was my attitude that determined my ultimate attitude more than the macroeconomic climate.  Years later I agree.

I think a similar way of thinking could be applied to the current business climate.  While it is more difficult for many people and extremely difficult for some, there is still a lot of opportunity out there.  By being effective i.e. choosing the right battles, having a plan and enlisting an appropriate level of support, you can compete.  Being crystal clear on you want helps and having a written marketing plan is even better.  It’s also important to have measurable goals, such as calls made to contacts, resumes sent, thank you notes sent, etc.  You can’t manage what you don’t measure.

Also, during difficult times, the cream tends to rise to the top.  Often when there is an easier economic climate, it’s more difficult to differentiate ability levels of candidates.  Under difficult circumstances, the candidate pool spreads apart and the people with perseverance, commitment and clear goals stand out.  Make sure you are in this category and not a wandering generality in a sea of despair.

I would also recommend that you intentionally put together a strong support network.  In other words, pair up with an accountability buddy or coach who will hold your feet to the fire to live up to your words and commitments.  Also, consider joining or forming a group that support each other in the job search.

While the economic situation is not perfect, it is a perfect time for soul searching, doing things you’ve always wanted to do and didn’t have the time.  In other words, it’s a good time to think about your values, work/life balance and formulate other goals so that career isn’t your whole life.  If you’ve always wanted to write a book, play the guitar, spend more time with your kinds, do it know because circumstances can change quickly.

When we are in a difficult situation, the tendency is to thing in terms of a catastrophe.  It is helpful to deal with this by thinking of the worse case, the best case and the most likely case.  By doing this, you are constantly giving yourself a dose of reality.  Some people also find it helpful to schedule worry time after which they set the problems aside until tomorrow.

When times are tough, it’s important to use your time wisely.  That means doing the most effective things first rather than the most uncomfortable.  You will go further faster if you decide on what are the most effective means available and decide how you divide your time between them.  This is not the time for taking the past of least resistance.

In the end, you need ONE yes to be successful in your search.  How many no answers you hear is irrelevant.  In order to find gold, you need to move a lot of dirt.  However, once you have the gold, the dirt doesn’t matter.  Every rejection you get brings you closer to the ONE yes you need to get the job.  Don’t look at the dirt, look at the gold.

When I was very young, probably five or so years old my mom used to say this little poem:

Two men looked out from prison bars,

one looked up and saw stars,

the other mud.

It’s really up to you what you choose to focus on.  You can focus on the opportunities or the obstacles.  You can compare yourself up, for example to Bill Gates or you can reflect on the assets and opportunities that come along with your circumstances.  Chances are you are in the riches 5% of the world’s population!

I know this article is not an ultimate answer nor a magic bullet.  However, surrounding to despair and negative thinking won’t help you.  During hard times, you have to be your own cheerleader and lean on the people who love you.  Take a risk and reach out.  Also reach inside and get in touch with the passion that is in your heart.  This will help you make it through difficult times and succeed in spite of a difficult financial climate.  Be one of the people who consciously chooses to stack that deck in your favor.  If you do, you might be surprised at the results.

About Pat

I'm an organizational development specialist, career counselor and personal development coach. My other interests are diverse, but I'm primarily concerned with helping people to lead a productive and meaningful life. I currently maintain two blogs on WordPress. One is directed more toward a business audience and the other will most appeal to the general public. My Masters is in Integral Psychology and I also attended Coaches Training Institute. I like an work in Silicon Valley and work with people from all over the world.
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