One of our members wrote me once and asked me about how to keep a proper attitude when your job search stretches into what seems like an eternity. The reason he addressed this question to me is that he noted that I have mentioned on several occasions that beginning in March of 1991 I was unemployed for almost 2 years. (It was only 1 year and 9 months, but who’s counting?)
This is not an easy question to answer from many perspectives. Time has dimmed my memory to a certain extent. (And, not only about my job search. Those senior moments happen more frequently lately, but I digress.)
When I left my job in 1991 as Chief Financial Officer of an advertising agency it was the first time I had been unemployed since I started working in 1971 after getting out of the Army. As I recall, the first several months were very busy. I had lots of appointments and I was sure that my job search would be brief.
I set about doing what I do best: organizing my work activities. From having been treasurer of my religious organization, I knew the value of keeping track of all of my contacts on index cards so that, as we have discussed in many newsletters, I could treat everyone personally.
During that first 6 month period, the process itself was both interesting and absorbing.
However, as the time wore on, I must admit that it became more and more difficult to keep busy. I am so efficient in my work activities that I clearly had too much time on my hands. It was at this point that I met Ed Devlin, the previous chairman of The FENG, at an Exec-U-Net meeting.
Ed and I became good friends and he suggested I go with him to a Connecticut Venture Group meeting. I already had business cards, and although I hadn’t registered for the meeting, I was able to meet several folks at the meeting and I actually picked up a client. My plan was to try to introduce this client to my friends in the publishing business. It was an opportunity to perhaps make a little money, but just as importantly, it was a way of approaching old friends on a basis other than “It’s Matt Bud looking for a job.”
In short, I found a way to keep busy and use my talents. Although I never closed any deals or made any serious money from these consulting activities (and I did have other clients), it didn’t matter because I had a good story to tell to recruiters.
The very fact that I had things to do energized me. In the end, however, although consulting had its attractions to me, I got a job offer that I accepted. As luck would have it, I had two job offers that day. It is my belief that to a great extent working a few consulting assignments, even if I didn’t earn any money from them, helped keep my spirits high.
Other members to whom I have talked over the years have done other things to keep their minds active. Some take correspondence courses. Some take up new hobbies or expand ones they have ignored for years.
The important thing is to keep yourself busy with activities that you find satisfying and that somehow build who you are. If you are despondent or engaging in self-doubt it can’t help but come out in your interviewing.
Friends, when you are looking for another job you have no choice but to keep at it. Don’t second guess yourself.
Remember, you wouldn’t have gotten sponsored as a member of The FENG if someone didn’t believe in you!