“I just can’t do it,” the client said. “I just can’t take time off from my job search.”
This is a situation I see quite often in the career transition business: clients who push themselves relentlessly to find that next job, eschewing any opportunities for rest, relaxation or fun of any kind. And in each of those situations, the advice I give those clients is exactly the same.
It may seem counter intuitive, but it is very important for someone in the throes of a career transition to reward themselves. It simply is not healthy for someone to go 24 hours a day, seven days a week on a job search.
A job search is less like a sprint, and more like a marathon. Remember, it’s not about finding any open position; it’s about finding a better job than the one you left. And that means, in some instances, taking your time.
Why do people become trapped in an unrelenting job search? Almost all of the clients I see in career transition did not ask to lose their jobs. However, without warning, they find themselves downsized, outsourced or just not part of the future plans of their current employer.
The shock that comes with an unanticipated job loss can undermine our confidence. We begin to wonder what, if anything, we could have done differently. We begin to fear that because our former employer did not want us, future employers will feel the same way.
The fear and the lack of confidence can consume us, until the idea of taking time off from a job search is completely unfathomable.
And yet, we know intrinsically that working without a break is, ultimately, counter productive. Even when faced with a big project and a pressing deadline, we understand a complete absence of rest and relaxation is ultimately destructive.
The guilt and shame that drives us to look for a new job without any rest can easily leak into every cover letter, networking conversation or job interview. All of a sudden, rather than projecting confidence, we’re sending off a vibe of desperation.
Career transition does not mean putting your life on hold. No one expects you to hold your breath and avoid rest and recreation until you find a new job. In fact, taking the occasional break might actually help you find that next great job.
For example, the client I talked about in the first part of this blog did eventually go on the cruise. Upon his return, he had a renewed sense of enthusiasm about job search.
The client ultimately took a contract position – something he would never have considered before the cruise – that translated into a permanent job with a great new employer.
Not everyone in career transition should expect to get the same result from something as simple as a short vacation. On the other hand, if you’re willing to try anything to find a job, why not try being good to yourself.