Job Search is a Marathon, not a Sprint

Dear, Anita,

When I lost my job two months ago, I was all gung-ho, applying to everything and getting out there networking. Now, though, after so much rejection, I’m losing steam. How can I keep myself motivated?

Dear, Jockeying for Position,

Grief often follows losing a job. You’ve just experienced a major loss – certainly a loss of income, position, and security that may even lead to loss of self-esteem. While experts in the grieving process recommend not making major life changes during stressful times, you have to get yourself out there and find a new job! But it can be difficult for a person experiencing grief or stress (or both) to function at full capacity.

Call to mind the moral of “The Tortoise and The Hare” fable – slow and steady wins the race. While I certainly don’t advise that you lollygag in responding to job board postings and follow up with emails at a snail’s pace, I don’t want you to burn yourself out by sprinting. Fatigue is inevitable during high-intensity periods, but running a marathon requires the athlete to leave energy for the end of the race. As the entrants in the Select Staffing Veterans Day Marathon know, there are some tips for maintaining endurance that we can apply to your job search.

    • Diet: Stop eating ice cream straight out of the container and make healthy eating choices to maintain your vitality.
    • Protection: While wise marathon runners apply sunscreen, I hope that you have a safety net of a savings account in addition to unemployment benefits to guard against unexpected expenses that arise during the hopefully short period between jobs.
    • Breathe: Marathon runners have greater lung capacity than sprinters. When stressed, your body goes into fight or flight mode, and breathing becomes shallow. Take some deep breaths – here are a few exercises from integrative medicine physician Dr. Andrew Weil.
    • Join: Find the support group equivalent of a running club. There are online groups of similarly unemployed people, but a local face-to-face clique such as a Meetup Group may be more beneficial. Do a Google search with terms like “job,” “career,” “unemployed,” and “support.”
    • Plan: A physical training plan is crucial if you want to finish a marathon. Similarly, draft out your long-range job search efforts and calendar critical activities, and keep a log of your endeavors.
    • Rehearse: Nobody goes out to run 26.2 miles on their first run. Practice for your important competition with mock interviews. Watch for an upcoming blog about rehearsing for those tough job interview questions.
    • Visualize: Don’t underrate the power of mental preparation. Just as the runner envisions crossing the finish line, create a movie in your mind with you as the star, acing that grueling interview.
    • Fuel up: Long-distance runners take in fuel and hydrate during the race. Likewise, in your job search, refresh yourself. J.T. O’Donnell, CEO of CareerHMO, advises pleasant disruption techniques to change your brain pattern to get over your down days:

When you do land that post, celebrate making it over the finish line! It’s now time to start the real exercise of maintaining a long-running job.

Readers: How do you keep up the pace when you “hit the wall” in your job search?

Do you have a job-related question? Ask Anita.

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RELATED POSTS:
Job Hunting Blues
No Longer “Enthused”
Understanding Unemployment

Smoking: A Career Killer?

A reader writes…

Hi, Anita:

My co-workers and I were having a discussion over lunch about whether or not smoking can have an effect on your career potential. As a non-smoker, I think smoking not only affects your health but also how people perceive you as an employee. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic. Thanks!

SmokingHi, Concerned Co-workers:

In my opinion, smoking can definitely have a negative effect on your career. According to a New York Times article, one in every five Americans smoke on a regular basis and, on average, employees who smoke cost employers $3,391 more a year for health care and lost productivity. If your company has 500 employees, this alone can cost almost $1.7 million a year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that cigarette smoking costs companies more than $193 billion (i.e., $97 billion in lost productivity plus $96 billion in health care expenditures).

Here are a few things to keep in mind when looking at the effects of smoking on your career or business.

  • The smell of cigarette smoke lingers on your clothing. People who do not smoke may be annoyed, repulsed, or dismissive of those who come in to the office smelling of stogies.
  • Smoking breaks can take a huge chunk of time out of the day. On average, it takes 3-5 minutes to smoke a cigarette. If you look at my post Time Theft: Is It Really a Crime? you can see how much in lost profits just two smoke breaks a day can amount to over the course of the year.
  • Smoking comes with its own set of negative connotations. Hiring employers or managers may view this habit as a red flag and think that the person is negligent or lazy.
  • Studies estimate that smokers are two to three times more often absent from work.
  • Smoking2Smoking may be deal breakers in a company’s hiring policy. More companies are adopting policies that stipulate that smokers will not be hired in states where it is legal to do so. If you are a smoker, you could be limiting your opportunities for hire or advancement. The Towers Watson survey found that 4% of companies have adopted such a policy and 2% more are expected to each year. In the same survey, 52% of companies banned smoking on office property, a number that’s expected to increase to 60% next year. Meanwhile, 42% of companies use surcharges for tobacco users at approximately $50/month to cover health care costs.

Smoking is not only bad for your health; it has the potential to kill your career.

See below for a great video on both sides of the issue:

Readers, what are your thoughts on this issue? Should employers be able to ban smoking at the workplace and be allowed to not hire someone because of their habit?

Best wishes,

Anita

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Disclaimer

Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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