Tips for Surviving a Job Search

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Written by Alex Comfort, CFPE

I recently heard that a close friend and former colleague didn’t get her dream job. In fact, she came out second in the search. Her disappointment serves as a stark reminder that job hunting can be the PITS!!!

There are so many variables, so many things you cannot see that go into an organization’s search process. Around the year 2000, I decided to look for another job. Over 18 months, I participated in 42 searches. I got six offers and didn’t like any of them. Of the other 36, all kinds of strange things happened. (After I had made the finals in one search, the college president was investigated and fired.)

You simply cannot go through a job search fixated on a potential move to a new position. That’s just what happened to my friend. She was very involved with the organization’s current staff and volunteers. She assumed she was a shoe-in for the position, but they picked the other candidate. She is crushed and barely functional.

That’s why it’s important to maintain emotional separation during a job search. Don’t mentally move into the new job prematurely. Remain aware of how the search may be detracting from your current job performance.

If and when the new position doesn’t work out, allow yourself to grieve. Call the organization’s HR department and ask what you could have done better. They will not be completely frank with you, but they might give you feedback for future opportunities. In a notebook, keep track of all jobs for which you have been considered as well as the ones for which you have applied. Moving forward, you might find it useful to reflect on what was successful and what wasn’t.

Your primary takeaway? DON’T TAKE IT PERSONALLY! If you don’t get the job, learn what you can and move on to the next opportunity.

When I was going through those 42 searches, I finally quit my job. Two weeks later, a friend came into my office and told me I was going to become the executive director of his favorite charity. And then he said something fundraisers seldom hear: “Name your price.” 

I did, and it was a great move for me. Maybe something like that will happen to you and my friend.


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