There is nothing to be ashamed of if you are looking for a job. In front of our peers, family and friends there is often the urge to put on a front rather than using the opportunity to build alliances.
This time last year I went to one of the many reunion drinks that happen in the build up to Christmas. Talking to a friend from university who I hadn’t seen for a year and we got onto the topic of what each of us was up to. His answer was that he was doing well, still working in the Sports Marketing company he had been at since leaving university in 2005. We spoke for a bit and he reeled off some of the successful projects they’d won and worked on – it all sounded great.
A couple of weeks later I heard that in fact my friend was miserable at work. He had felt stuck in his role and had a new line manager who had a fairly toxic leadership style.
It got me thinking, why would someone put on a front like that? What drives people to let their pride stand in the way of using these occasions to pick their network’s brains?
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that no one likes a bore who talks about nothing but work and I know people don’t want to bring their problems to an occasion that is supposed to be fun. But at the same time I would rather my friend had shared some of his problems than be unhappy and walk away from reunions feeling depressed or flat.
So here are 4 things you can do if you are in a similar position over the next few weeks:
1. Be proud you are job seeking. A recent Gallup Survey highlighted that 21% of millennials (people reaching young adulthood in the early 21st century) say they have changed jobs within the past year. At the other end of the spectrum, the majority of people over 60 will work through retirement. Therefore looking for a new job is something that is not only normal but something that should be encouraged given the opportunities that are out there. You need to convince yourself that improving your working life is something that you are motivated to do.
2. Have a plan. It never ceases to amaze us at 18-07 how helpful people naturally are and want to be when it comes to making introductions, sharing experiences or giving advice. But it is significantly easier for someone to help if they have an idea about which part of their experience or network they can unlock. Having a plan, even if it is as vague as saying you are looking to be self employed or want to go on a graduate programme. It doesn’t have to be concrete, and often it helps to adapt it to the type of person you know will be at the social event. If you are ever unsure about what you should say, you can talk about things you have enjoyed doing and are proud of.
3. Carry business cards. One of the best pieces of advice I got when I was unemployed was to get personal business cards (less than £20 from somewhere like moo.com will get you started with something simple). It is a much easier transaction to do in a social setting to hand it over rather than getting phones out.
4. Believe in yourself. Confidence plays a large part in securing a job – think about the things you have achieved, the difference you have made and the resulting impact to companies and clients. Moving on from something that isn’t working for you is actually a very strong statement. It’s a statement that says you are in charge of your own destiny and in touch with how you are connected with your work, rather than being a salary slave.
By way of a summary we at 18-07 would advise you to use the time over Christmas to think about what you genuinely want, speak to others, ask for their advice and talk about both your and their experiences.
You may just find yourself being surprised about where it all leads to.