Resilience-Building Strategies For Job Search Success

Laura Sheehan presenting to the U.S. Secretary of Defense

Have the events of 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic catalyzed a need for a job or career change? Perhaps in working from home you have solidified the opinion that you are not happy in your current office-bound role – or maybe through corporate closures or team restructuring, your position has been eliminated or changed so much that it hardly resembles the job you had before.  Regardless of the cause, the search is on!

Laura Sheehan in ChinaHere’s a fascinating fact: According to a 2019 survey completed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, respondents “held an average of 12.3 jobs from ages 18 to 52.”[1] Statistically speaking, the average person changes jobs every 2-3 years.  Yes, COVID may have accelerated that process for some and these are particularly tough times to be looking for a new job. However, as someone who has both navigated regular career changes and coached hundreds of others through the process, I can definitively say: The key to job search and/or career change success is resilience.  Anyone looking to embark on a professional pivot right now must tap into and leverage any means of bouncing back – and up – that are available.

How do we do that?  Here are seven resilience-building strategies for success in job (or career) searches:

1. Recognize the Stress. Whether we plan for it or are suddenly confronted with the need for it, career changes are big life changes that will regularly occur throughout our working years. Career change is, in fact, regularly listed as one of the top five most stressful life events.[2] Acknowledge this fact and allow yourself to be on that emotional rollercoaster for a time, and seek support where and how it is needed.

2. Reframe in the Positive. No job is ever perfect. Before jumping into a job search, take the time to evaluate what was working and what wasn’t in your previous role. What aspects of your job would you like to take with you to the next? Which ones would you rather leave behind? A job change is an opportunity to craft your next ideal role!  If viewed in this way, it can be an exciting adventure rather than an arduous journey. If you could do anything, what would it be?

3. Release the Title. Though it may seem like it, your job title is not your identity[3] – it is simply a means of identifying your role within a company. When examined closely (and creatively), your skills and talents can fit a wide variety of jobs.  There are a myriad of tools you can use to expand your options and think beyond the traditional titles for your future job.  To get started, check out sites such as CareerOneStop or Zip Recruiter; each of these tools has resources that allow you to plug in your skills and see what jobs fit or are currently available!

4. Retool your Skillset. Once you are clear on all that you have to offer and open up to the employment opportunities that are out there, you can identify gaps you might need to fill or ways in which you might make yourself a more unique or valuable hire. Consider additional education, certifications and degrees as the means by which you can show your relevance, resourcefulness and recent skills acquisition.The RBLP program is one such incredible resource. In these crazy COVID times, everyone needs (but few truly understand) resilience. What better way to join a new team or revive a struggling one than to offer your skills in building a positive climate, developing cohesion and (re)discovering purpose than to offer your expertise as a resilience-building leader?! Having just completed RBLP-T certification myself, I can attest that the RBLP acronym now attached to my title has attracted great attention from individual clients and corporate partners looking for assistance in both staff retention and redeployment. 

5. Renew Dormant Relationships. Depending on the source, employment experts note that as much as 70% of jobs are not publicly listed and up to 85% of jobs are filled through word of mouth or personal connections.[4]  These statistics can be daunting, and so can networking. Rare is the person who really enjoys talking to strangers. So start by going back to the people you already know; successful networking isn’t necessarily about introducing yourself to strangers, handing out business cards or attending random events. It is making best use of the latent networks in your orbit and leveraging the social capital you have already accrued.

Laura Sheehan's TED Talk presentation6. Retain a Coach! In a recent conversation with a new acquaintance, I had the opportunity to answer the question: “What do you do?” I eagerly replied, “I am a career coach!” In response, the woman queried: “How in the world did you set out on that path?” The truth is, most coaches begin their professional lives doing something else, endure and overcome a struggle, and then move into a coaching role to help others navigate or altogether avoid the same hardship.  They have real life experience doing what you are setting out to do and have likely done it over and over again.  Yes, you can find any number of resources on the internet; nevertheless if you get stuck at any stage, a coach can help you shift your perspective and give you the confidence boost that you need to move forward fast.  We can’t always do everything on our own.  Know when it is time to ask for help.

7. Remember to Breathe. Throughout the process, remember that it is not a matter of if but when you land your next role. Patience can be difficult to maintain when faced with the anxiety-inducing “messy middle”[5] – when we know we have moved on from the past but have no clue yet what the future holds. Be present in the here and now.  Focus on what you can do rather than what is outside of your control, and know that any small, positive action that you take today will bring you one step closer to a brighter tomorrow.

Have questions about how to further develop your resilience right now? RBLP can help you navigate the tumultuous waters of career shifts, including team restructuring and mass layoffs – as a leader or someone directly impacted and seeking a new role.  The core components of RBLP training are subjects that can benefit you as a job seeker and as a team leader; it requires individual reflection and the subsequent application of these principles to the corporate structure.  This increases your own resilience and sets you apart in this job market as someone who has the critical tools needed to help re-engage and lift up a team.

The RBLP team is available to speak one-on-one if you have further questions; reach out today and get started on your own path.

Laura Sheehan portraitLaura Sheehan is a U.S. lawyer turned career coach and strategist.  Having successfully navigated the challenges of eight international moves over the span of nearly 20 years, Laura is thrilled to be able to leverage her experiences to help others succeed abroad.  She has served hundreds worldwide in their individual endeavors to find and create international employment opportunities, wherever they are.  For her efforts, Laura was featured on the Thriving Abroad podcast in March 2018, selected as a speaker for TEDx Hanoi 2018, and is the 2018 recipient of AAFSW’s prestigious Champion for Career Enhancement award. Laura is the owner and principal strategist for E.P. Career Strategies, LLC and she leads an international professional development group called “Empowering Perspectives.”

[1] The title of the report is “Number of Jobs Held, Labor Market Activity, and Earnings Growth among the Youngest Baby Boomers: Results from a Longitudinal Survey.” The report is available on the BLS website.
[2] The four life events that precede career change on a stress scale are: the death of a spouse, marriage, birth and relocation – in varying order, depending on the source.

[3] Oh, was this a struggle for me. I was “Laura the Lawyer” for decades. My TEDx talk is all about that journey.

[4] “How to get a job often comes down to one elite personal asset, and many people still don’t realize it.” CNBC 27 December 2019 and on the CNBC website.

[5] Term coined in a fantastic book called “The Messy Middle: Finding your way through the hardest and most crucial part of any bold adventure” by Scott Belsky.

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