Career Lessons From a Snow Day
Author Byline: Grace Kutney - Career development professional with 10 years of experience in career advising. Specializes in working with undergraduate students with little-to-no work experience. Special interest in working with international students, immigrant populations, parents transitioning back into the workforce.
Winter has arrived!! Earlier this week, my area received our first real accumulation of snow. As I looked out the window wondering when I'd have the time to shovel the driveway, I saw three middle school children walking in front of my house. "Be careful. Be careful!" I kept chanting in my head as I watched the three cautiously make their way over the icy sidewalk. That's when it dawned on me that job searching right now is not too unlike walking on a cold, snowy day.
It was rather blustery out; the children's heads were bowed and arms crossed, bracing themselves against the cold wind. All the while, the children kept their eyes fixed on the sidewalk, attempting to determine their next steps. Likewise, when the job market is cold, sometimes you just have to keep your head down - not in defeat, but in a posture of determination - forging ahead regardless of the cold slaps of rejection you know will come. Furthermore, you have to watch your step; be planful and thoughtful about the moves you make, and always be ready to alter your course when the need arises.
Back to the children walking in the snow. Two of them were wearing boots, while the third was wearing regular shoes (maybe sneakers). When it comes to job search, foot apparel is the equivalent of your skills, experiences and abilities. During any given time of year, having some sort of foot covering is important, but what you wear on your feet in the wintertime is particularly essential. Boots will keep you warm and will give you more stability and confidence as you trek through the snow. Likewise, your skills, experiences and abilities are always important aspects of the job search, but much more important during economic "coldspells." Solid experience and proven skills and abilities are like wearing a good pair of boots - they give you security, confidence and stability when the path you're walking is uncertain.
The little girl wearing sneakers was able to move along on the icy sidewalk, but she was much more tentative, periodically reaching out to balance herself on her friend's arm. Likewise, if you're heading into your job search with limited related work experience, (i.e. you're wearing sneakers on the snow rather than snow boots), navigating the job market will be especially challenging - but still possible. And, you'll likely benefit immensely from reaching out to your network of professional colleagues, (which is a good idea for any job seeker, but especially useful to those with limited experience).
After walking by my house, I notice the three young friends cross the street and head for the snow-covered baseball field opposite my home. Despite the cold, a lively snowball fight soon followed. This brings me to my last point. Though the job market is undoubtedly difficult, you can't allow the current economic climate to steal all of your joy. Find ways to make the most of the situation - perhaps by developing or honing skills, perhaps by re-connecting with colleagues, or perhaps by testing new career avenues previously unexplored. For all the challenges that winter can present, it also brings with it the joys of the holiday season, which in turn usher in the spring!
(For some practical tips on how NOT to let the recession become an excuse for not finding a job, read, "10 Ways YOU Stop Yourself From Getting a Job.")