“As we all know, this process is horrible,” said the executive, very sure of himself, at a recent networking event for executives “in transition” – you know, that nice way of saying unemployed. Horrible indeed … painstakingly updating resumés to match job descriptions to be submitted into the black hole of HR with little hope of ever hearing back. Interview after interview – four, five, even 12 interviews for a single position. Social media updates, networking ad nauseum … rejection upon rejection … or even worse, no responses at all. Hours spent fleshing out stories of our accomplishments using the STAR method and practicing our “exit statement” in front of the mirror. Why exactly did you leave your last job?
When my turn to share came at the networking event, I started out by saying, “Actually, I don’t find this process horrible at all. I find it pretty exciting.” The room looked at me like I was nuts. Isn’t the job hunt scary, stressful and, well, horrible?
I was laid off five months ago from a company where I’d been for eight years. Scary. What am I going to do? Kid in college, mortgage, car payment. Job hunting is horrible. I won’t find anything in my town and I’ll have to sign up to an hour commute to Denver. I imagined myself exhausted and starting over with a new boss, a new company, but probably doing the same old thing I’ve been doing for years. At my age, how could I possibly make a big change?
What if I did make a big change? Exhilarating. What if I could find something new and different, where I’d learn every day and meet new people? That felt…exciting. What if this was just the push I needed to make the change in my life that I’d been craving, but had been too comfortable to go after on my own?
I deliberately took a couple of months off to regroup, declutter my house, and do a little traveling. For one of my trips, I went scuba diving in the Bahamas. Wait – that makes it sound too easy. I decided I wanted to go on a scuba trip, but I had no one to accompany me. So, I did some research and made the decision to spend a week in the Bahamas on a sailboat … with 18 people I had never met. “You’re so brave!” said all of my friends. Definitely exciting.
Before one of our dives, we watched the sharks from the deck, circling underneath the boat. We prepared our gear and proceeded to take a giant stride into the sea. Sharks in the Bahamas are actually quite “tame” and well-fed. It shouldn’t seem scary to jump in the water and descend to swim with the five reef sharks circling us. Not so scary?! They are sharks! So, yeah, a little scary, but also exhilarating.
Exhilarating? Swimming with sharks? Losing my job? How can I find the job hunt process exciting? First of all, for me, change is exciting. Researching new companies, daydreaming about what I’d like to do next, where I’d like to work, what kinds of people I might meet. A new industry, a new position, the opportunity to learn something new! How exciting is that? Instead of only looking at the end result … getting a job … I focused on appreciating and enjoying satisfying my curiosity through personal and professional exploration. I took the time to reflect inwardly about what I’d like to do differently in my next role or career move.
I created mind maps with all kinds of options, from getting the same type of job I had before to starting my own business. I researched fast-growing companies and attended networking events. I looked into getting on the board of a non-profit. I updated my resumé to match job descriptions and practiced my exit statement. And I swam with sharks (yes, that’s ME in the bottom right of the photo).
I’m doing the things I need to do, taking the appropriate action steps and plugging away at the job search. I am also focusing not only on what I need or want to do, but on who I am and who I want to BE in my life and in my next career. Knowing who I am is ultimately more important than what I do. Trusting (in God, the Universe, or whatever higher power you might want to invoke) that I will find the right job/career/next move … when it is right.
Yes, it was scary to lose my job. But now, I’m exploring some interesting roles and exciting industries. And trusting that I’m not going to be eaten alive in this process.
Leslie Rezgui is a mom, daughter, sister, pitbull mom, avid hiker, book lover, music lover and scuba diver. She is also a Certified Public Accountant and holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts, a Master’s in Accounting and an MBA.
Photo credit: Chara McMichael.
Inspiration: Leadership coach Laura Miolla at moxielifeleadership.com