The Stockdale Paradox and Your Job Search

The August 2020 unemployment rate dropped to 8.4%, but it’s still more than double our pre-pandemic rates from earlier this year. If you’re out of work and struggling to find a new position, you’re in an employer’s market, with the competition being high.

How you approach your job search can be as individualistic as you would like. Some people apply for hundreds of jobs blindly and hope that their hard work in getting past the applicant tracking system (ATS) will be the special sauce that will win them the prize.

Even though estimates are that only about 5% (and that’s the high end of the scale) of online applicants land a job, people keep pouring their time and resources into doing what they know.

Before spending time and energy on a job approach, what is your plan to make it through being unemployed?

Showing up at a computer and staring at a blank screen isn’t a plan. Nor is using a scattershot approach of applying for dozens of jobs online.

Stop a moment and take time to build your foundation. Your mindset and how you approach your job search is key to your success.

Back during the Vietnam War, James Stockdale survived torture and imprisonment as a prisoner of war. When asked how he survived, while others did not, he gave this explanation: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose —with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.”

He went on to share that those fellow prisoners who hoped to be “home by Christmas” would put all their faith into the date, but when Christmas came and went, they “died of a broken heart.”

For Stockdale, he knew that he wouldn’t be home by Christmas, but that he would survive and eventually be freed.

What does Stockdale’s story have to do with a job search?

We are currently in a pandemic with high unemployment rates, a once-in-a-lifetime Presidential election, and a reckoning in the United States on social justice. No one can adequately predict what the next year will bring for our country (or the world). And although a job search does not in the least compare to Stockdale’s harrowing story of torture and imprisonment, we can still learn from him and apply what he taught to overcome a crisis.

The brutal fact is that we won’t have all our economic, social justice, and pandemic-related problems solved by Christmas. However, we can have hope that eventually, the country will stabilize.

To make this more personal: you may not have a job for the next five months, but eventually, you will land a new job.

Understanding the Stockdale Paradox will help you prevail.

Once you come to terms with the challenges ahead, you then need to create your plan.

Your new work is to find employment, and how you do that is up to you.

A quick search online will net you the top ways to find a job. There’s no secret in the ways to find a job; however, perseverance and resourcefulness are a whole different matter.

Just as a financial advisor will recommend a diversified approach to invest, the same is true for your job search.

Talk to people, network, and reach out to other professionals and ask for a 15-minute informational interview call. And when that doesn’t work, consider alternative ways of finding a job.

Finding a job will take time, patience, and a lot of work. The more irons you have in the fire, the better.

If you’re struggling on where to start, here are some daily recommendations to repeat each and every day:

● On your first day out of work, make a post for LinkedIn that lets your connections know that you are out of work. List a few of your last job achievements and share with everyone what you’re looking for in your next position. After day 1, share a tip or article to help others in their job search. Make sure that you use hashtags to get more eyeballs on your posts.

●     Meditate. Seriously. Make time to settle your mind. If you wanted to run a marathon, you would need a training plan; the same is true of your mind.

● Each day reach out to 1-2 LinkedIn connections and let them know that you’re looking for work, would appreciate any recommendations of people to speak with to help you find a job and let them know that you will gladly help others in return.

● Exercise. Walk, run, do something to get your body moving. If getting up is a challenge, practice chair exercises.

● Set up daily job search alerts, review the listings, and apply for relevant jobs (after seeing anyone in your network works at the company).

● Read books to learn something new in your field and/or listen to podcasts (and then share this information on LinkedIn).

● Attend online professional networking sessions/webinars. The Great Careers Groups & BENG has dozens of thought-provoking webinars. Sign up for one, meet new people, and connect with everyone on LinkedIn.

The list above is only a high-level overview and is simply a recommendation. Once you settle on what works for you, write the list up on a whiteboard, and after you complete them each day, check them off.

The most critical tip to help you find your next job is a deceptively simple one: Be open-minded.

Schedule one-on-one calls or Zooms with people you met in a webinar, consider opportunities that you might not have thought of in the past, and talk to as many people as you can. The more people you connect with, the more chances you’ll have in finding an opportunity.

Most of the time, jobs won’t fall into your lap, but if you are persistent and willing to talk with people, an opportunity will eventually present itself to you. The secret isn’t really much of one: Be persistent, helpful, and positive.

Remember, you make your own luck.

Author Bio

Ron Vitale is an accomplished director of digital project management and has successfully overseen the launch of more than a dozen websites and is currently seeking employment opportunities.

His colleagues have come to know him as a diplomatic problem-solver with a proven ability to envision people’s web needs and then launch viable new web-based systems on time and under budget.

Ron is also the author of more than 15 fiction and non-fiction books and uses his author career as a platform to learn new technology and online marketing techniques. Feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn.

Marketing Director Discovers Career Group to be a Wonderful Community That Is Motivational and Informative

Tell us about yourself and your career background. 

My name is Daria Duda, and I am a career marketer focused on entertainment and technology, specializing in product and content marketing.

Why were you looking for a job?

My company closed its office in King of Prussia, and I was part of the 80 or so folks laid off as a result. It was a huge change because I was consistently employed for 20 years, even surviving mergers, acquisitions, and company layoffs.

How did you discover PAGCG?

I discovered the Philadelphia Area Great Careers Group (PAGCG) by happenstance and didn’t even know that an organization such as this existed. I heard about PAGCG from two people: a recruiter and a friend at my gym. When they both raved about how helpful the chapter meetings were, I knew I had to check it out.

How did PAGCG help you in your job search?

The chapter leaders helped me stay positive; they were motivational, and the sessions were informative, often highlighted by expert guest speakers. At first, I was skeptical because I had never joined a networking organization, and I didn’t know what to expect. What I discovered was a wonderful community filled with smart, hard-working people. We all had the same goal of finding the right next job that would maximize our specific skills. Many folks were employed but looking to transition to a different position or even different career, and it was inspiring to support others on their journey.

How did you find your job? How long did it take?

Well, it did take longer than I thought. I also learned that taking the first option didn’t mean it was the right one for me. While I had plenty of interviews, I quickly recognized it would best to be particular about choosing the right company for me. It wasn’t without effort – lots of networking through PAGCG, lots of meetups, and events at Venture Café, along with adjustments to my LinkedIn profile. Then simultaneously, two good options came forward. One was from a personal connection who introduced me to a business acquaintance. The second was a posting on LinkedIn, and having been taught all the tricks by the PAGCG folks, I contacted the recruiter on LinkedIn before applying. Having a personal connection with the recruiter added an authentic element to my job search and made the right impression of getting the interview and landing my job.

What kept you motivated during the job search, especially during the downtimes?

Hah – chocolate, and of course, the PAGCG chapter meetings! Seriously though, support from my friends and family. My husband was one of my biggest motivators and would encourage me to attend all the events possible – I was going out nearly every day to events all over the city!

What were the lessons that you learned during your job search?

There were many things, and PAGCG helped me tremendously. It is not just about networking, optimizing, and maintaining a LinkedIn profile, or doing practice interviewing – but with the building of personal connections. I look at my contacts now on LinkedIn, many of whom I met through the group and now follow their successes, and it’s humbling to be a part of it all, and know that we are all worked together to help each other be successful – in whatever way that meant to each of us. 

Do you have any networking tips or tricks that you can share?

I would say, strive to have two meaningful conversations during an event. As an introvert, networking was difficult and exhausting for me at first, but I found that meeting even just two people and having meaningful conversations truly matters. It’s best not to overthink what you should talk about with someone and instead relax. Don’t panic and enjoy the conversation, be engaged, and work on your listening skills, make eye contact. You never know who will keep you in mind when an opportunity arises. When you let yourself have a great conversation with someone, you end up finding some common topic to discuss or learn something new – it’s a great way to stay motivated.

What will you do in your new role?

I am the Director of Marketing for a start-up focused on safety for automation and robotics. The subject matter is all new for me, and it’s exciting and exhilarating to be a part of emerging technology.

What is one takeaway or nugget of wisdom that you would like to give us?

Personal connections are more important than online job applications. Even when my resume keywords matched a job description, it still wasn’t a guarantee that I would get a response at all, and, most of the time, I got no responses. Talk about a downer. Instead, reach out and add that human element to your job search and meet people, exchange ideas, and you’ll find inspiration and even advice in every conversation. 

What is Commercial Use Limit on LinkedIn?

If you have a free LinkedIn account, you may have received a warning that you were approaching your commercial use limit of 300 searches in a month. Your searching ability may actually come to an abrupt halt if you reached the maximum views by viewing too quickly.

This happens because you have viewed too many profiles on your mobile device or desktop or you looked at the profiles in the “People Also Viewed” section.

You do not get dinged for browsing for jobs on the jobs tab, for looking at your first level connections, or by searching by name in the search box at the top left of your profile. 

What LinkedIn hopes you will do is purchase a premium plan on 1) Sales Navigator,  2) Recruiter, or 3) Premier Business. Any of these upgrades will allow increasing the number of searches you are allowed. 

Upgrading to the Career and Premium Essentials plans have no bearing on increasing your commercial limits, as both of those are subject to the 300 searches also.

If, for example, you set up your account on the 16th of the month, your month would typically end on the 15th of the next month.

However, for the purposes of the reset for commercial use limit, you must wait until the 1st of the following month to reset your new count of 300.

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