It’s kind of funny how the words “fired,” “unemployed,” or “laid off” are taboo enough to make people squirm.
Even today, six months after landing my dream job, when I mention that I was recently laid off, people smile nervously and their eyes dart around the room, like I just declared that I’m the president of a Nickelback fan club. Yes, I meant to admit out loud that I’ve failed. No, there’s no Bailey’s in this flat white.
We’ve really messed things up when it comes to how we approach our careers, haven’t we?
We calculate capability with tailored keywords and resume gaps—and regard unemployed friends as flighty or broken. The hardest part of being a job seeker now isn’t the interviewing process or updating your resume, it’s the emotional exhaustion that you have to endure. It’s retaining your identity and confidence in the face of constant rejection, frustration, and social bias.
We need to stop telling ourselves to look outward for signs that we’re on the right track, waiting for somebody to see our value, or wishing for good things to come. The truth took me 30 years and countless mistakes to find, but here it is:
The most important work you will ever do for yourself starts right now. Hold your heart. Use that beat as momentum. The life that you’ve always wanted and needed begins from the inside out. I know how Disney-esque that sounds, but it’s the most important truth I can offer you.
Here are five traits that you can work on that will not just serve you during your job search, but far beyond.
When I hit rock bottom last March, my intuition led me to reach out to one of my idols in the marketing world, Scott Stratten. Not only did he offer words of encouragement, he also sent me a huge box of books to help me get back onto my feet. Those books were the reason I was able to start writing compelling content on LinkedIn and begin building my presence on the platform.
My attitude changed because I put myself out there and messaged a stranger. Because of that, I started hosting Linkedin share-a-thons, a way for job seekers to share descriptions of their dream jobs. The updates are shared by me to my network in hopes of reaching hiring managers or attracting companies that are looking for candidates who are confident enough to be vulnerable.
Every week, I receive updates from former job seekers who have landed great roles from the share. It’s as simple as a short status, but as bold as putting yourself out there and saying, “I need help.”
You need to believe in something bigger than yourself, outside of your personal bubble. Having an overarching purpose that’s independent from your job status is critical for moving forward. A purpose can be as simple as being an encouraging friend or family member, or supporting others in need.
No matter where you are in your life, you always have something to give, even if a smile or warm hello is all that you can muster. Volunteer if you can, it’ll grant you a wider view of the world. Think about what you love, what gives you joy, what makes you want to wake up in the morning.
I discovered my purpose by reflecting on my childhood. I was always either A) writing, B) taking care of others, or C) crying (but that was more of an age thing). I combined my passion for writing, my sensitive spirit, and my love of caring for others and created a LinkedIn presence that energized me throughout my job search—and fulfills me to this day!
Perseverance means consistently showing up. It means putting in the time and effort to move forwards even when you desperately want to throw up your hands and go back to your duvet cocoon.
Perseverance means embracing rejection, pain, and failure, because you know that the stumbling blocks ahead are going to make you stronger and wiser. It’s one of the most important traits you’ll need throughout your job search, and in life.
LOOKING FOR A JOB YOU'LL ACTUALLY LOVE THIS TIME?
Of course you are! The good news for you is that we know a ton.
The more balance that you can create in your life, the happier you’ll ultimately be.
Before I lost my job, I was one of those people who glorified the “hustle.” I was “making it” because I was one of those people who existed off of coffee and worked around the clock, even though I was more miserable than I’d ever been.
After I was laid off, I began yoga and meditation to pass the time. It quickly became more of a lifestyle than a task on my to-do list. It gave me the clarity that I needed to focus on my job search—and ultimately, my purpose.
Maintaining your confidence is now your full-time career during your job search. It is your most treasured trait, and the hardest to preserve under such stressful circumstances.
However, being confident is a choice. And it doesn’t just mean putting a smile on your face and pretending like everything’s OK, it means practicing affirmations, taking risks, trusting your capabilities, and getting fired up about all of the growth and possibility ahead—regardless of how bad that last interview went, or how you didn’t get a callback.
I won’t tell you that your job search is going to be easy, because it won’t be. But I will tell you that your worth doesn’t depend on your status, title, or bank account. You are capable, worthy, and ready. And as long as your heart is beating, you have everything you need to make it happen, my friend.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn. It has been republished here with permission.
Photo of person job searching courtesy of PeopleImages/Getty Images.
Michaela Alexis is a content marketing specialist turned career advice columnist. Michaela had her first article go viral on LinkedIn in March 2016, and has been sharing her career experiences ever since. Michaela has been featured in a variety of publications, such as PR Daily, NotSalmon.com, and CNBC’s “Make It”. When Michaela isn’t writing, she’s sweating it out at a hot yoga session or curled up with a good book and warm coffee.More from this Author