By Tory Johnson
Recently, 200 smart and savvy women (and a few great guys) showed up at a Barnes & Noble in Manhattan to celebrate the publication of Fired to Hired -- my story of how getting canned from a job I loved at NBC News at the age of 22 set me on the path that ultimately led me to create Women For Hire, a national women’s recruiting firm.
Every time I shook someone’s hand I’d ask them to tell me their story.
“Well, I’m unemployed” were invariably the first words, followed by when it happened, how hard it is to be out of work and what they’re doing to find a new job.
Nine times out of 10 -- since they hadn’t offered it -- I’d ask, “What kind of work do you do?”
“Oh, right. Of course,” was the typical reply, as they quickly realized that unemployed now defined them. They were no longer sales reps or stockbrokers or editors. They were unemployed.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Before saying you’re out of work, let someone know who you are and what you’re all about. Then make it known that you’re looking for your next great opportunity.
When I started my business exactly ten years ago, everyone (except my husband) told me that quitting my “steady” PR job to start a women’s career expo business was too risky. I had twin toddlers at home who very much relied on the income of two parents, so friends told me I was irresponsible to give up that paycheck.
But instead of allowing the fear of failure to prevent me from pursuing my dreams, I used it to fuel my determination. I knew if this little idea of mine didn’t take off, I’d have to go back and get a job again in PR, which I dreaded. Hello, motivation.
Too many people allow fear of rejection and fear of being told no to hold them back. Better to go for it -- make a mistake, learn and grow -- than sit still.
Finding work these days is unquestionably a challenge, but not impossible: About 90% of our workforce is employed. You must believe in your bones that jobs do exist -- and that there’s one out there for you.
Just because a pink slip strips you of your corporate ID and your company-issued business cards doesn’t mean you have to be stripped of your identity and your self-worth, too. You own your skills, strengths and successes -- and no change in employment status can take them away. They’re yours to keep forever.
Some tips to make it happen:
1.) I always remind anyone looking for work that finding a job is a fulltime job. If you’re only devoting an hour or so a day to finding work, let’s be honest: You’re not seriously looking.
2.) If you think you’re working as hard as humanly possibly to find work -- but you're having absolutely no success -- maybe it’s time to do something different.
That’s the advice that Anthony Davidson, dean of New York University’s School of Continuing Education, gave via a fable-like tale he shared with me for a free webinar that accompanies Fired to Hired.
A fly is banging its body against a window—trying tirelessly to get out. For three hours, it flies directly into the window in an effort to escape. No luck. Finally, it drops dead of exhaustion – just a few feet away from an open door.
The moral: Sometimes trying harder or working smarter isn’t the answer. Sometimes, the solution is working different. If you’re doing the same thing every day and following the same strategy month after month to find work -- and it’s not working -- now may be the time rethink your tactics and try something different.
3.) Start a job club. It’s just like a book club, but instead of talking chapters, members meet weekly to chat about their careers. There’s nothing like connecting with people in the same boat to help you feel better about yourself and motivate your search.
4.) Embrace online social networking through Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Since people hire people, the more you can connect directly the closer you’ll get to your next employer.
With the knowledge that you’re much more than just unemployed -- and armed with the tips above -- you’re well on your way to getting hired – and finding the job of your dreams.
I’m rooting for your success.
Tory Johnson is the CEO of Women For Hire, the workplace contributor on ABC's Good Morning America and the author of Fired to Hired and Will Work From Home.