Monday, February 25, 2008

Psychology of Job Hunting

With my job hunt now behind me I felt it was a good time to go back and analyze the psychology of looking for a job. As anyone who has ever been unemployed knows, it can be a very difficult thing to stay positive, no matter what is happening. When we moved back to Portland, I told myself that I should focus first and foremost on building relationships. As anyone in business knows, it's the people you know and relationships you develop that allow you to continue to grow both professionally and personally. Thankfully the people in Portland are fantastic in this regard. I never had a time during my search where someone wasn't willing to take 15-30 minutes out of their schedule to meet with me and answer any questions I might have.

As I developed this network, I also did plenty of research into a variety of companies. While this helped me gain a better understanding of the market circa 2007, is also just raised more questions. Where did I want to work? What kind of company did I want to work for? What is inspiring me moving forward? My contract position with Nike helped answer a lot of those questions. For me I realized that while Nike is truly an innovative company, I also determined that I'd rather my next position be with a smaller company (smaller than Nike is obviously a pretty large spectrum) and somewhere where I could utilize my penchant for analytics and new technology. Thankfully I've found that opportunity at Anvil Media.

However, between Nike and Anvil Media was a fair amount of time. And during those 6+ months there were a lot of emotional lows and highs. Some days I'd jump right out of bed, step into the office and get right to work. Other days, I would stay in my pajamas, watch a TV show or do something else equally unproductive for portions of the day. So much of a person's self worth in today's day and age is related to his work (and it's so culturally embedded that even if you personally feel like it doesn't define you, it still defines you). When one doesn't have a job, you feel like you're missing a part of your personality. This is especially evident when you're a member of a professional MBA program. While my previous roles obviously allowed me to bring relevant work experiences to the discussions we had in class, a certain part of me felt that I was cheating my classmates and to a lesser extent myself. At the same time the positive support and counsel I received from those same classmates were a huge help in staying positive during my search.

In the end I realized that the most important part of a job hunt for me was being comfortable in my own skin. Understanding who you are gives you a sense of comfort and additionally allows you to have confidence in your abilities. With this confidence comes a belief that the skills you have are desirable in the market and that finding a job is simply matching the right company with those skills. While my confidence certainly wavered at times, in the end it was being comfortable with who I was and my abilities that got me the opportunity at Anvil Media.

Between 2001 (my previous job search) and 2007, I felt one thing really helped me become more comfortable in who I was and allowed this search to be much different than the last. In fact, it is the reason this blog was started in the first place. Traveling around the world, being put in situations both easy and extremely difficult really helped me mature and made me understand who I was at a level I'd never really imagined. So by surviving 15 months on the road I was able to survive finding a job.


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