What do I do when I can’t get a job?

October 16, 2016 Chris Pearse

Recently I’ve become aware of many people on LinkedIn that have excellent resumes and can’t find a job. Some of them have applied for 100s and in spite of their tenacity and commitment to the process, nothing happens. It is depressing to read about and must be utterly miserable and soul-destroying to be in that situation.

Now I have never been technically unemployed and I have not made 100s of job applications, so I completely understand anyone writing off my thoughts on the basis that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

However, I was once in a position of deep frustration at not being able to find an outlet for my talents, energy and ambition. I’ve also worked with many in this predicament. My insights may be transferable so here goes:

Firstly, when you keep doing the same thing over again with the same result, you have to ask yourself why? Here are some possibilities:

you’re proving to yourself that you’re not giving up
you’re proving to someone else that you’re not giving up
you are entitled to employment so you’ll get some eventually
there’s nothing else you can do – it’s the only way
it’s a matter of time – just keep throwing mud at the wall and some will stick
There may be others. They are all perfectly understandable and recognisable, but they all smack of desperation, struggle and a hint of failure. And the reason is often due to the disconnect between what you’re chasing and what you really want.

One of the approaches I take when helping people overcome seemingly intractable problems is to entertain all the possibilities, from the ruinous to the fabulously successful. What’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen?

Then I ask them which they want to choose on that spectrum between destitution and total fulfilment, security, fame and fortune. The initial answer is more or less what they’re currently aiming for. But on further exploration it often transpires that this is not, at all, what they really want. Their aspirations are heavily conditioned by their perception of circumstance, what you might call ‘being pragmatic’. Now that perception is a function of what is being observed and the belief system of the observer. In other words you and I see the same thing differently because we are looking through the lens of our individual beliefs.

And that’s great news because although you may be hard-pushed to change the situation you find yourself in, you can certainly, if you want to, change what you believe to be true. And in doing so your perception of your situation will alter and so will the options that appear open to you. This is one reason why different people perform differently faced with the same challenge.

When you cast off a few of the negative beliefs, even momentarily, you can often feel a surge of energy to achieve what you want… until the old restrictive ideas are allowed back in.

The real challenge is not writing applications, but refusing to invest your identity in limitations.

It’s often easier to see this happening in others than ourselves. How many people do you know who talk and think themselves out of great things – that settle for so much less than they could achieve, and create personal dissatisfaction through their mindset?

OK – so a great bit of theory about positive thinking that we’ve all heard before. But what are the practical steps that someone in this position can take?
The first step is the most important, bar none. And it is the easiest to dismiss as being of no value:

1 Identify what you really want from your life. Suspend all thought of practicalities (remember you will see obstacles that others don’t) and allow yourself to entertain the very best of what you want, no holds barred, money no object. For many this is best done in conversation with someone else. The trick is to keep all the limitations and restrictions at bay until you can connect with something that excites you.

Write it down and try it for size – does the prospect make you feel good, is it energising?

Thereafter, the journey to realising your highest aspiration is simply one of keeping the ideas that oppose it at bay – not having any truck with them, not investing your identity in them. So, for instance, if you’re 60 something and the only way you can do what you’ve always wanted is by setting up a company, borrowing money and starting a new business, you may have to deal with an internal voice telling you that you’re too old.

I’ve noticed that many of the aspirations that people express once they’ve identified them are indeed challenging, but also achievable. Only you stand in the way.

2 Take action. Don’t worry about how you’re going to get what you want and don’t think too hard about the process, just get active. Sure, send 500 applications if what youreally want is employment – but never use this as your sole method. Do other stuff too – call everyone you know and tell them what you’re up to, what you want to achieve. Ask them what advice they would give you and who you should speak to that might be able to help. Go networking, talk to people, use LinkedIn. And here’s the interesting bit: if you can’t find the energy to live, eat and breathe your particular aspiration then you may be living with a 2nd class, watered-down version of it. Go back to step 1 quick and get help with it.

So that’s more or less it. It’s very, very simple – but not always easy. The challenge is not out there in moulding circumstances to our bidding, or waiting for the right ones. The challenge is in not letting our self-limiting beliefs dilute our aspirations and then go on to interfere with the actions we take. Familiar?

Most of the people I’ve helped were not being true to their deep-seated aspirations – in other words they were chasing something they didn’t really want. Or they were letting their inner voice tell them not to try everything they could, because it wouldn’t work.

The battleground is not out there in the job market – it’s in your mind.

Remember, it’s what you really want that will get you there, not some mediocre, low-fat version of it designed to take ‘circumstances’ into account. And by that I’m not for a moment suggesting that you should turn down an opportunity that will pay the bills, even though it’s not what you’re really shooting for – it’s just another step on the way to achieving your ambition.

This approach to achieving success in your working life is not mine and it’s not new. It works for me and others I’ve worked with. I’ve not, yet, met anyone for whom it doesn’t.