How To Cope With Waiting For Change
Whether it’s for a new job or that perfect partner, patience is both something that’s easy to loathe and hard to practice. It’s the boiled broccoli of virtues. Consider this month’s reader request:
My job search has taken 5 years! When is it time to hire a career coach vs. relying on a mentor for job search strategy advice?-Waiting For Change
First, take a breath. Five years may sound like a long time, but worry won’t rewind the clock. Trust that you’ve been productive, discerning, and learning during this time in between even if the current state of affairs is not what you expected.
That said, I have to ask: have you really been searching for 5 years? Or have you been looking for 5 years? Cue the online dating analogy. There’s a difference between cruising free online dating sites and actually meeting people IRL…or daresay asking friends to set you up.
Yes, it’s scary.
The golden handcuffs of a job you know (vs. the job you don’t) coupled with a steady paycheck keeps many people I know from pursuing a new opportunity. This is where the inclination to hire a coach or rely on a mentor can be effective.
Full disclosure: we have mentors who are also coaches, so you can have both! At a basic level, coaches are great for accountability – getting you from point A to point B. My sense is it’s like personal training for getting a job, losing some weight, or achieving a specific goal.
On the other hand, a mentor – as we define it here at edittress – is a resource. Someone you can unapologetically ask questions to because they want to help. Maybe because they’ve been in the same industry, but not always…I’ve seen mentor relationships flourish just because two people have a common hobby.
And, moreso than coaches, mentors often have no fear about telling you what they think. They draw from their own experience to help you. Coaches are more likely to help you help yourself without explicitly telling you what to do.
In other words, making the most of the mentor requires an active effort on your part to apply the advice. So, like many things in life, it depends on you and what you want.
But let me offer a third way: why do you think it has taken 5 years to find another position? Whatever the answer is, I invite you to acknowledge it and let it go. Say goodbye. Mourn for the rest of the day. Then start fresh tomorrow with a basic plan:
1. Define What You Want
Write your ideal job description. If you were a recruiter looking for someone like you, what would it look like? Then make a list of dream companies. Why are these your dream companies?
No job, company, or person is perfect. Despite that, it’s still an important practice to know what you’re looking for.
“If you don’t know where you’re going, any road’ll take you there.”-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland
[Read more: 5 Steps To Find A Career With Purpose]
2. Apply Online & Offline
If there’s a job opening, great! Send your resume in, but don’t stop there. See if we have a mentor that’s worked in that industry and pick their brain. Or take the traditional route and ask anybody if they know anybody in XYZ field. Or volunteer at an industry event.
[Read more: Networking Tips For People Who Hate Networking]
Let’s be honest: there will be unreturned emails and ghosting at this stage.
This is natural for reasons beyond our control and knowing. Remember, those actions say more about them (not necessarily bad things, being busy is fair and very real) than it does about you. So let it be and keep moving! Consider it an indicator that perhaps that dream company is not so dreamy in reality.
3. Be Ready
Practice interviewing with your roommate, family, or one of our mentors. It’s why we built this! Besides, you never know when the next opportunity could come knocking. My core belief is people want to help, but they can’t help you if you don’t know what you want.
For example, I often meet young professionals who say, “Ugh. I hate my job. Can you help me get a new job?”
To which, I say, “What are you looking for?”
“I don’t know. Something in marketing.”
Does this sound familiar? Now, consider another conversation that goes like this:
“Ugh. I hate my job. Can you help me?”
“What are you looking for?”
“Well, I’ve spent the last 3 years in promotional marketing where I led a rebrand, organized our social media presence, and launched a blog.”
“Thanks, but I’m a little overwhelmed with the company’s constant restructuring. I would love a better funded startup where I can learn more with video production.”
When you know what you want, not everybody can help you – but everybody can be aware. And they can keep their ears open for you. That’s the best outcome short of an actual job offer and one we often forget to be grateful for.
“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”–Helen Keller
Have a work conundrum? Tell us about it for a future article!