By Cynthia Sutherland
Job search is an independent and even a solitary venture. After all, you are the one who needs to do the work to find a new job. But…you’re definitely not alone on this journey.
Others – even strangers – can offer kindness and insights at an opportune moment; this can occur in unexpected ways, and even lead to a different career outcome.
Job search is a time to be more resilient, creative and resourceful by stepping out of your comfort zone. You can use this period to connect in new ways with your family, religious practices or spiritual beliefs, long-time friends, professional groups, volunteering, etc.
And since you’re in a dynamic and changing life period, it is inspiring to tap into people or situations that challenge your old assumptions. Most surprisingly, there are individuals you don’t know at all who may reach out to you (or you reach out to them) – even in a fleeting way. They may motivate you to leap forward after you’ve been going in circles.
I’ve had several people connect with me out of the blue with information that generated a string of connections that led to a potential job, interviews, and even discussions that re-shaped my job focus.
And the people that I’ve found to be the most valuable resources are those that I’ve interacted with in areas initially unrelated to a job search conversation. For example, I was discussing how a picture could be framed, someone walked into the shop, became part of the discussion, and it led to a job referral. That happened in my veterinarian’s office as well.
Another discussion occurred with an employee (former schoolteacher) at a bookstore that led me to re-think whether using other job skills would lead me to a different type of career.
These friendly encounters gave me a boost in my singular quest. And they made me realize that building real connections, not just “me-focused” job contacts, are the most important part of my life journey. It showed me that there is an interesting community that can broaden my thinking if I’m ready to listen.
Yes, there are people I’ve known for years who faded as friends and colleagues during my job search. But for any closed doors, I’ve been disarmed by kindnesses and conversations and help from extraordinary people I didn’t know before, and built some new friendships. I feel better for it.
If you’re open to guidance, the job search process can be a revelation, not just the solitary task of finding a job. And that’s what this journey is really about.
Cynthia Sutherland is a senior human resources professional, focusing primarily on diversity and inclusion and work-life.
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