In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross introduced us to the “Five Stages of Grief”. Based on those stages, in 2012, I am introducing you to the “Five Stages of Job Hunting”.
The development of these five stages comes from an overfamiliarity with the job hunting process. To be upfront about it, that overfamiliarity is my own fault. I’m the one who chose to marry a Navy pilot. I knew that we were going to move every 2-3 years. I knew I’d have to job hunt frequently. I am impetuous, though, and prone to following my heart and not my head. If I’d followed my head, I would probably still have steady employment and be tucked away in my cosy condo. Alone. Instead, I have a fantastic husband and an amazing son and could not be any happier. Well, that’s a lie. I could be a little happier. If I had a job, I’d be happier. That’s right. I’m in stage four of the “Five Stages of Job Hunting” – depression.
Using Kubler-Ross’s model (and borrowing two of her terms), let me introduce you to my “Five Stages of Job Hunting”:
“Elation?” you say. Yes, elation. The first stage of job hunting comes after leaving your current job. (Side note: If you’ve been laid off, skip to stage 2 or 3.) Perhaps you’ve left because you are moving. Or, perhaps you hate your job/colleagues/boss and have decided you are going to poke your own eyes out if you have to go to your workplace even one more time. Either way, you’re elated to start fresh. Now, the world is your oyster. You can start your own business! You can go back to school! You can travel! But, before you do that, you can sleep in and read and watch TV! Oh, the freedom of not having a job! And, you figure, while you’re lying on the couch watching cooking shows all day, you’ll poke around online and see what’s out there. Surely, it won’t take very long for you, an accomplished professional, to land a sweet, high paying job doing what you love. Surely.
After a few weeks or months, you realize that you’ve seen that episode of the Barefoot Contessa three times now. You also realize that you have not heard anything back from any of those jobs you nonchalantly applied for. Actually, you haven’t heard anything back from any of the jobs you seriously applied for. You spent at least twenty minutes per application writing cover letters, correcting the thirty mistakes the brilliant, automated application platform made when importing your resume and you haven’t even gotten a “you’re so not qualified for this job, we actually laughed.” What. The. Hell. Now, you’re angry. Yep. Now, you’ve entered stage two.
Your anger eventually gives way to desperation. At times, this desperation is mild. You think, “I could take a job where I make slightly less money than I made before. At least it would be something.” Other times, the desperation is severe. “I could intern. I’m sure there are lots of unpaid, 30-year-old interns.”
The thought of being a 30-year-old, unpaid intern drives you swiftly to stage four – depression. You begin to think you’ll never find a job. Maybe your previous jobs were flukes. Maybe you really aren’t qualified to do anything. You’ll probably never work again. No one will ever hire you. Resistance is futile. You are unemployable.
Then, a friend steps in. This is someone who has been on the phone with you numerous times through your job hunting. Someone who has offered a sympathetic ear, an encouraging word, a hook-up at a company and a bottle of wine to drown your sorrows in. After telling you that you’re interning idea is the most harebrained scheme she’s ever heard, your friend says, “don’t doubt in the dark what you know in the light” (or similar). Then, she tells you all the skills she knows you have, allowing you to hope, just hope, that perhaps you are employable. Perhaps you will find a job. Perhaps you will, once again, be paid to think.
And it is here that you enter the fifth and final stage of job hunting – hope. You take this hope back to the job search engines. You take it back to your LinkedIn profile and your updated resume. And, you take it back to your overall approach. You will not settle for just any job. You will not be an unpaid intern. You are employable. You are desirable. You will find a job. And, you will love it.
So completes the five stages of job hunting. The road from elation to hope is a long and frustrating one. Knowing the pattern, however, can help you to remember that there is a light (and a job) at the end of the tunnel.
Now, do you know of anyone who is hiring unpaid interns at this time of year?