It takes more than encouragement to transform a stalled job search
Sometimes being in someone’s corner might require more than just listening and back-patting. When someone reports a failed job search, month after month after month, vague words of encouragement won’t move the dial. If their circumstances become dire, then it’s time to change things up.
Encouragement is necessary and important.
The job search process can be daunting to someone new to the workforce or desiring a career change. Like most things, when someone is attempting a new pursuit, process or behavior, encouragement is necessary and important. And like other pursuits, before someone can be motivated to continue, they need to be on a path that will most likely get them where they want to go. Words of encouragement, such as, “Keep trying! It will happen!” “You can do it!” “It will happen next time,” are intended to offer support. But they lack a very important piece of the puzzle. None of these statements include how.
Help them find a different approach.
Jumping on the commiseration bandwagon is easy, but blaming external influences for failing to reach a goal doesn’t solve anything. More specifically, sympathizing with a job seeker’s failed interview may make them feel heard, but it doesn’t offer a path forward. A person caught in a river’s eddy may hear you yell, but they can’t see the shore. Without a lifeline out of the raging current, they’re still left fighting for survival.
More than encouragement is needed when job applications or interviews continue to fail. If someone is making a career transition, their job search may be especially hard to navigate. The path may be longer and more complicated than anticipated. Direct routes rarely work. So it may be time for supporters to stop sugarcoating the situation and throw in a lifeline. If you know someone is struggling and things are getting worse, isn’t it time to help them find a different approach?
Stop doing the same thing, the same way, expecting different results.
Let’s face it. To produce a different outcome, something has to change. It is time to stop doing the same thing, the same way, expecting different results. Stop encouraging someone to repeat what they have always done if it isn’t working. Instead, encourage them to identify alternative solutions, paths and actions that can really help them reach their goals.
To truly help someone, it is necessary to go beyond words of encouragement and begin to ask tough questions. Ask questions that will help them identify the real problem. Eliciting information about their motivation, expectations and actions can help pinpoint what really can change. Shaking things up can shed light on options that may have been missed.
Having choices can make a person feel powerful and optimistic.
If the reality of someone’s situation is overwhelming (to you or them), then steer them towards professional help. Getting assistance from someone who has proven success in guiding tough transitions can be a game changer. A good career coach can help identify issues that are outside of someone’s control and shift the focus to what is in their control. Coaching can help someone recognize choices where they may have seen none. Offering alternatives may help the person reach their goal differently. Most importantly, having choices can make a person feel powerful and optimistic. Isn’t that what words of encouragement were meant to do?