What are Acts of Nature for, if not to teach us a few life lessons? And if you are in the process of hunting for a job, why not apply those lessons? In the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, there are a few observations that I have that may help you go forward with your Job Search.
(And for those who are still struggling to get their power back on, or dealing with serious damage to their homes or neighborhoods, and especially to those who lost their lives, I do not mean to minimize the real impact of Irene. It’s a metaphor.)
Do your preparation ahead of the crisis.
Like many a Brooklynite, on Friday I tried to pick up a flashlight and some food in the case of power outages and, um, hunger. Waaaay too late. Seems as though the rest of NYC had caught on to the idea that there might be a little storm and hardware stores and groceries were mobbed and/or picked clean.
You don’t want to be in the middle of the curve. You want to be ahead of the curve. And if you are waiting to get laid off or for some sign from above – a hurricane, for example — to prepare yourself for the job search, you are behind. If you are in an industry that is rapidly changing and you are not up-to-date on all its developments, you are behind. If you have by the grace of God gotten an interview for a job and you haven’t done significant research before you go in, you are behind. If you are waiting to network until you absolutely need to, you are behind.
When there are unknowns, don’t panic and don’t take positions at the extremes.
I should have known the flashlight and grocery mob would be in full effect, because, like anyone with eyes and ears, I knew what the news was telling everyone. At the same time, I also am well aware of the First Corollary of East Coast Weather Hysteria: for every action, there is an overreaction.
There are a lot of unknowns when you are on the job hunt. You might not hear from a job you applied for; you might have a phone screen and not hear anything for two weeks; you might think you had a horrible interview. It’s easy to assume the worst-case scenario, and it is part of our human survival instinct to do so. Or you could also be a Pollyanna and assume that everything will be fine.
Taking extreme positions either way might be disadvantageous to your success. If you assume everything is perfect (including yourself) you might not be taking into account strong competition or ways you could improve your applications. You might also be setting yourself up for constant disappointment. If you assume everything is a disaster, your stress level may be so high that you cannot present yourself in the best light. And you might have some buyer’s remorse from your panicked trip to the grocery store.
Don’t oversell yourself.
This is for the local weather guy who demonstrably unbuttons his shirt and loosens his tie to show how hard he’s working during hurricane coverage. Yeah, we get it. This is your moment to shine. You’re working hard. Don’t overdo it. You’re in a studio – not like the unfortunate reporters that were sent out into the rain to drive around endlessly looking for flooding and damage.
Desperation is easily sniffed out, so try to stay within yourself. You can show you are working hard at networking, or that you will be a good employee in an interview, without constantly demonstrating it. It gets tiring.
These are just a few of the hurricane-related lessons for job seekers I could think of. Can you suggest any others?