Wow, it seems a long time since I wrote my last entry. Last three months were important and memorable for me: I enjoyed a brief vacation after almost a year, completed my master's thesis, completed my internships, completed my graduate degree and started my post-graduate job search. I've been active on Twitter though, and realize micro-blogging is probably the best way to go - 140 characters or less to summarize your world. I am thrilled when I realize I have 200 + people out there in the cyber world, interested in hearing "what I am doing." I follow many recruiters, PR industry professionals, career coaches, or simply very popular profiles. And I read hundreds of links about job search advice, job search mistakes, job search realities, job search tools etc. And many of them do inspire me, inform me, challenge me, motivate me or educate me.
My journey in the job search process has been interesting. Difficult and sometimes painful, but interesting. Hence I thought that while there are thousands of articles that talk about the challenges in finding a job in the current economy, few really focus on what job search process can actually teach a job seeker. I would not be exhaggerating when I say I've literally grown professionally, in past few weeks of my job search. It's not been long that I am looking (though sometimes it does feel like it's been forever).
Here are the five things I've learned and I love in my job search process so far. I am sure there will be more to add, if my job search process continues!
1. Your job search trains you for the job: Strange as it may sound, I believe my job search has actually helped me train myself and grow professionally. Just as the current environment, there may be serious hurdles or challenges while on the job. How am I going to handle real-life, unsurmountable challenges on the job? How am I going to apply my creativity to solve problems? How will I focus on solutions and not the problems? How will I develop perserverance, patience and focus for achieving the set goals? This job search has precisely helped me learn answers to these issues and made me stronger, more resilient and more optimistic.
2. You learn to develop the right attitude: Just as I've grown professionally during my job search, I've also actually learned how to develop the right attitude. It's so easy to be bogged down by the current economic environment and issues. But I've consciously chosen to focus on the positives, stay optmistic and continue looking for opportunities proactively. It's hard, yes, but I believe that attitude plays a huge role in anything we do in life. It's always about choices we make and perceptions we create. I believe my job search, especially in the current environment, has helped me develop the right attitude that will be required at every step in life.
3. You network like crazy: Agreed, everyone talks about how networking is important. But I realized that during a job search, you really make all extra efforts to network, network and network! Practically, every single human being that I've ever been associated at any time and at any level or any area of life knows I am looking for a job. When I was working, I valued networking as well, but this period has been different. And this networking is not only for job search (well, ok eventually, that's the goal) But I go that extra mile to write notes, connect with everyone from whom I can learn. I've learned so much just by extending my invitation to connect. I've learned the process, the power and privileges of good networking. And I plan to continue this habit even after I land a job.
4. You value relationships more than ever: The reality of this economy is that everyone is in the same boat. Hence everyone is ready to help each other. Everyone understands. Everyone sympathizes. And because I've been networking like crazy, I've cherished relationships that I would never have been able to form if it was not my job search. People are helping in every way they can. They pass on job links to me, provide references, help me connect to someone or simply lend me a ear when I'm frustrated. I've learned to value these relationships and have decided to return these favors by helping in whatever way I can - whether I'm employed or not. I've valued my professional relationships now more than ever.
5. You get out of your comfort zone: Necessity is the mother of invention. This job search has helped me push my limits and get me out of the comfort zone. I am compelled in a way to introspect about my career goals, my skills, my past and my future. A page of resume can hardly summarize what you've accomplished in life. But it does help you see and tune your professional background to your career goals. Once I have a clear understanding of my career goals, I've had to get out of my comfort zone and explore non-conventional routes to achieve those career goals. You knock on doors that you'd never imagined you'll approach - and yet, for the right reasons. I am glad this job search is helping me to put my best foot forward.
I hope these insights are useful to my fellow job-seekers who are going through the same emotions and experiences that I am. While I don't know the outcome of my rigorous efforts in job search as yet, I do know this period has helped me tremendously to gain perspective on life and learn lessons that will be valuable in my professional career.