We just ran a pilot Job Search In Action project here at Ometz that had participants reporting an increase in job search activity, motivation and clarity of focus. To what do we attribute this success and how might it impact on YOUR efforts to find work? In a word, consistency. In another word (or two) reduced isolation.
Our session ran for five continuous mornings and each day we revisited relevant skills such as networking, using social media for job search, positive self-talk and creating action plans. Participants were expected to commit to the entire week and used online and written journals to track their efforts and attitudes.
So, what made the difference? Why did people self-report that they felt more energized, were showing more evidence of informational interview calls and were more strenuously searching sites? That is something that is really hard to assess, however, the pre and post surveys and the “letter to self” documentation participants were asked to fill out (and which they chose to share) indicated that the mere fact of knowing that they were not alone in their employment hunt, that they could discuss and communicate their frustrations as well as their successes with peers – and a facilitator- and that they had the structure of knowing a group was waiting for them….all contributed to a more productive experience.
Part of this situation relates to age. Ometz’ employment demographic is primarily candidates who are 45+ years old. A 2012 Canadian Library of Parliament Research Publication written by Marie-Claude Langlois examining Canada’s labour market, revealed that youth uses social media (Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter specifically) more than their elders: in 2009, 86% of Canadians aged 18 to 34 who used the Internet had a profile on a social networking site, compared with 44% of people aged 55 and over. While younger job seekers may find alternate ways to reach out both socially and professionally and feel less isolated during job search, older candidates may be less likely to do so.
But anyone, regardless of age, can feel isolated and pessimistic while hunting for work. So what can you do to strengthen your own job search efforts? Here are four suggestions:
- Find – or create – a job search club where you can exchange information, combat isolation and develop a structure that brings order to your job seeking efforts.
- Seek out a job search buddy and commit to checking in every day and giving each other that boost to make those tough informational interview calls.
- Sign up for courses that will add to your arsenal of skills. Online courses may be convenient but needing to get out to a classroom may engage you more effectively in your environment.
- Volunteer. This approach a) reminds you that there are always people who need your help; b) can expose you to a new environment, work domain or set of skills without the pressure of performing for pay; c) allows you to continue to stay connected in your field between paying jobs.
How do YOU keep up your spirit and optimism in the face of unemployment?