I have a few key points I’d like to make.
- Your work is not your worth. People who thrive in fast-paced, high-growth companies are crushed when they lose their jobs. That’s because when you derive meaning and enjoyment from intense professional challenges, the abrupt loss of work hits you in your soul. I believe your worth extends beyond your job and comes from several factors: your role as a partner, parent, friend, neighbor, and member of your community. If you’re devastated by the loss, be curious about it and don’t make the same mistake of jumping on that hamster wheel that made you feel so bad in the first place. Use your time off to reflect on what matters in your life.
- Don’t personalize your job loss. With very few exceptions, layoffs are an outcome of a company’s inability to think creatively about marketplace challenges. It takes a strong leadership team to ask its workforce to pivot, think differently, and share some of the risk to adapt and grow in unpredictable circumstances. Your management team failed to plan for difficult times and made things worse by declining to include you in the plan to persist and endure. It’s not your fault. They reacted poorly. It has nothing to do with your knowledge, skills, and abilities.
- Don’t exaggerate the importance of your resume. The number one question I get from people on the bench is, “Will you look at my resume?” You’ve done great work. Your CV is relevant. But people make hiring decisions based on whether they like, know, or trust you. Nobody ever lost out on an opportunity because of a three-page resume versus a two-page resume. They lost out because the resume-in-a-vacuum will never tell the complete story of who you are, what you offer, and how you can change a company’s trajectory. Only you can do that by converting connections to relationships.
- A job search is a sales strategy. I don’t know anybody who sits in a home office on the internet for six hours a day—blasting resumes, connecting with everybody on LinkedIn—and gets hired. Use your business expertise and apply it to hiring managers and recruiters. The best producers schedule their days, invest in learning, and are service-oriented instead of sales-oriented.
- Talk to recruiters and hiring managers like they are human beings with families, problems, and fears. How would you feel if someone you don’t know started aggressively pursuing you, demanding your time, and then bashed you on the internet for not being responsive? Because that’s what happens to recruiters regularly, making them more reserved about picking up the phone and taking your call. When you finally get the meeting, give recruiters a reason to help. Be likable, helpful, and, above all, trustworthy—emotionally and professionally.
- Don’t knock the compromise. Even in ideal market conditions, adulthood is one significant compromise after another until you die. Anybody who tells you that they found the perfect job at the ideal rate with the best job title is lying or doesn’t know the extent to which they’ll work their asses off and compromise for those perks down the road. If you’re allowed to go back to work, know this: no job is forever, not even great ones. Only you can decide how and when to compromise, but don’t labor under the false illusion that you shouldn’t have to settle. The fact is that adulthood has unfortunate tradeoffs that are part of the game we call life.
- Stay motivated through self-care. When you’re unemployed during a pandemic and stuck at home, it’s easy to hyperfocus on the job search. But recruiters and hiring managers can hear desperation and weariness in your voice. So, the rules of self-care apply: get off the internet, stay hydrated, find connection, and look for meaning in family, faith, or community. Challenge your brain, open your heart, and be of service to others.
Those are some of the topics I’ll be talking about today. Grateful to Lessonly for sponsoring the conversation. I hope the discussion pays dividends for people on the bench—and beyond.