Q. Help! I have lots of experience looking for jobs but each time it gets harder to explain why I am looking again. Almost fifteen years ago I went through a series of bank jobs as everywhere I worked seemed to be merged and I was on the losing side. I went through 5 jobs with less than 2 years at each, and I am afraid this is starting again. Financially I am a mess, but the worst of it is I feel like a loser, and I'm pretty sure my family and friends think that too. If they think so, how will I convince a new employer I'm a good person and (I think) actually good at my job?
A.You really have been through some tough times, and I wish I could tell you it will be easier now, but that may not be the case. Losing a job is most often painful, and going through these losses multiple times takes a toll on your self confidence. Rebuilding that confidence can often be the most important step in a new job search, and I encourage you to take the time to do that.
There are many industries that have gone through significant changes over the years, and employees have been impacted more greatly than others. The 80's had "high tech nomads"; employees in technology companies who were laid off on a regular basis as the fortunes of their companies rose and fell - seemingly with the wind. The 90's, as you know, saw a banking crisis and small banks buying bigger banks, and trading in staff that often faced long term unemployment. And skip to today - with layoffs striking the financial services industry and moving into others as well. So though it may not help, you are not alone in this plight. And hiring managers know that. Sadly, everyone feels the statistics are written about other people but not them.
I hope your friends and family really aren't questioning your capabilities which won't help you rebuild your confidence. Many people find it hard to understand how job loss, never mind multiple job loss can happen to a person. It can, and some industries, and there are many, are more brutal than others in this regard. Some generations remember the era of the 50 year employment contract, ending with a gold watch and a retirement party. We know that is gone, and what is replacing that contract is still changing. I would ask family and friends of job seekers to be supportive - the impact, positive and negative, is very significant, and can help someone be successful, or drag them down.
Maybe it will help if you introduce them to another generation who consider two years at one employer long term and wonder how you managed to stay so committed.
Good career counselors start with an assessment process, and look for patterns and themes. Review each job and look at what you did well, and what you loved to do. There is plenty of time to look at "opportunities for development" but for now, just focus on success. This is also a terrific time to talk to people you worked with who can help you focus on the good work you did, and why they enjoyed working with you. You will need to see a positive track record before you can successfully articulate your value to a hiring manager. You may also start to see areas that you need to avoid in a job situation, so start to keep a list of what is not good for you in your next role.
You may need more support than you feel you have with family and friends. Kathleen Greer, president of KGA, an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) based in Framingham, suggested you look into services offered by EAP's. Companies who offer EAP support often continue support for some time following a lay off, and your most recent employer may.
So rebuild your emotional strength, and start the job search with renewed energy. That will give you the opportunity to target the right job, and the right company for the next step toward reemployment, which you will take.
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Patricia Hunt Sinacole is president of First Beacon Group LLC, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton. She works with clients across many industries including technology, biotech and medical devices, financial services, and healthcare, and has over 20 years of human resources experience.
Elaine Varelas is managing partner at Keystone Partners, a career management firm in Boston and serves on the board of Career Partners International.
Cindy Atoji Keene is a freelance journalist with more than 25 years experience. E-mail her directly here.
Peter Post is the author of "The Etiquette Advantage in Business." Email questions about business etiquette to him directly here.
Stu Coleman, a partner and general manager at WinterWyman, manages the firm's Financial Contracting division, and provides strategic staffing services to Boston-area organizations needing Accounting and Finance workforce solutions and contract talent.
Tracy Cashman is a partner and the general manager of the Information Technology search division at WinterWyman. She has 20 years of experience partnering with clients in the Boston area to conduct technology searches in a wide variety of industries and technology.
Paul Hellman is the founder of Express Potential, which specializes in executive communication skills. He consults and speaks internationally on how to capture attention & influence others. Email him directly here.