So, yes, job searching is stressful. Nobody likes to get laid off. And even if you can’t stand where you’re working, or you’re going after your dream that suddenly looks like it’s within reach, starting a job search actually takes a lot of energy – and focus.
I’ve read that when a rocket takes off, it uses up over 80% of its fuel, just getting out of the earth’s atmosphere. Once it’s in outer space, it doesn’t need as much fuel. And the same can be said of job searching.
Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can cut down on the stress. I should know, I’ve done it a bunch of times — while I was already happily employed… while I was unhappily employed… while I was under the impression I was going to be laid off… when one contract was winding down, and I needed to find the next one I’d take… and when I was relocating across the country (and back) and needed to line up work. Even when I was living overseas and wanted to stretch a semester into a longer stay — and had to find a job to pay my way.
I’ve been at this job search business for most of my life — and in terms of making a living and paying expenses, it’s been over 30 years. So, I’ve learned a thing or two about how to cut down on risk and crisis, and find the opportunities.
The number one thing that’s helped me along the way, has been independent input from people who were on my side. Advice from friends and family wasn’t always helpful because
A) They were too concerned for my well-being to have an objective view. They were more concerned with keeping me safe, than helping me get to the next level.
B) They didn’t have an insider’s view on the workplace or the job market.
More than anything, I’ve always needed an insider’s view. And guess who’s always had that — and been more than willing to share that with me?
If you guessed Recruiters, you’re right.
See, here’s the thing — recruiters are compensated by how well they do their job. They get paid when they place people. And if the people they place are “duds”, they get “dinged”. If a new hire doesn’t stay past a certain point (if they bail in the first three months), the recruiter/agency can lose part of all of their commission. They don’t want that. And talking a new hire into staying in a position that they realized isn’t for them is terribly time-consuming. One of my former recruiters had to do that with me — she barely convinced me to stick it out at a position I found over 20 years ago, when I was still in a career transition period. All the time she spent negotiating with me and convincing me to stay in the extremely challenging position I’d signed onto, was time she couldn’t spend placing other people, so I’m sure that was expensive for her.
Ultimately, it works in their favor, if they find a good fit, to begin with. So, they’re motivated to get you into the right job, from the get-go. And the less they have to do, to keep you in that spot, till they collect their entire commission, the better off they are.
Another opportunity comes from sites like Glassdoor, where employees rate their employers — past and present. I’ve used them to my advantage in the past, seeing what salaries were like for people in the position I was applying for, as well as screening out companies that were apparently more trouble than they were worth.
My research in the salary ranges really paid off, in that I was able to realistically set my expectations for a starting salary — and since I came across as being very clear and certain, I was actually able to get more than I originally went in thinking I could get. Just knowing what the average rate was, enabled me to set my initial ask higher than any ask I’d put out there in years… and I got it. Because I knew enough to ask realistically.
Equally important are the times I was able to disqualify potential employers that had attractive jobs posted on Indeed, by checking them out on Glassdoor. High turnover rates. Infighting. Poor management that changed its mind every couple of months. Cronyism and/or hiring junior management to save $$$. Plenty of reasons to not go anywhere near those companies… even if they were much closer to home, which meant a shorter commute and more work-life balance.
Some things just aren’t worth it.
For me, between the job boards, the employer insight websites, and recruiter connections and feedback, there’s plenty of opportunity out there to find the right fit, the right match… or avoid the wrong ones like the plague. There’s no guarantee you’re going to find that unicorn job, but no situation is ever perfect, in my experience. And even the ones that start out perfect, have a way of morphing into something different along the way.
But you have to make the best of it, find the opportunity where you can find it, and work with that.
Ultimately, that’s going to look better on your resume, than if you have a long progression of fantastic unicorn jobs, where nothing ever went wrong for you. Hiring managers don’t want to know how you’ve avoided adversity for your entire career — they want to know how you overcame it.
But if you can connect with resources and people who can steer you clear of the tar pits, to begin with, so much the better. After all, you want to your fuel getting into outer space, not battling ground conditions.