Managing the stress of looking for a job

SAN FRANCISCO BAY area-based career coach Susan Zitron knows about career changes. She has worked in recruiting and outsourcing, and currently runs her own coaching business ( to help clients minimize mistakes while job hunting. Zitron explains how IT professionals can protect themselves from the emotional fallout of a volatile job market.

Embrace change.

"You always have to have one eye on the market and one eye on your job as a matter of course," says Zitron. "I believe your job is your company's responsibility; your career is your own responsibility."

Zitron says her advice is to expect to be in a job no longer than three years, given the constant changes in the industry.

But disabuse yourself of any illusions.

"Don't be seduced by your own desire to be wanted," Zitron says. "Really get clear on what's important to you."

Next, Zitron suggests reflecting on how you have managed change in the past. Even if you have been with one company for a long time, that company will have gone through changes.

"[People manage change] either by default or by design," Zitron says.

Balance your current job with your job search.

Shopping for a new job while you already have one can be tricky, but staying connected can ease the anxiety.

"You must commit yourself to meeting the goals at your present company and do a great job at that; at the same time, join and attend professional associations where you can meet people who can provide you with inside information about what's going on, because often times good opportunities are only filled by referral," Zitron says.

Control after-interview tension.

Zitron lists some basic steps to help minimize the agony of waiting to hear the results of an interview.

* Ask questions before you leave.

"In order to reduce some of the tension and pressure during an interview, be sure to ask when they intend to have the position filled," Zitron says. "Are there any internal candidates being considered? Have they extended an offer to anyone yet? Is there any reason why you wouldn't be considered a top candidate for this position? Find that out before you leave."

* Follow up.

"Follow up your interview with a letter that speaks to the interviewer's key points, reviewing the reasons why you could do a good job," Zitron says.

* Be persistent.

"If you haven't heard back after a week, call the hiring authority or the recruiter, whichever is appropriate, to find out what's going on," Zitron says. "One of my ex-clients called the hiring authority to find out why he wasn't selected, and it turned out [they] never saw his résumé. He got an interview."

Allow for disappointment.

If it turns out you didn't get the job, it's OK to mourn, as long as you keep it brief.

"I say give yourself 15 minutes to be really disappointed, 30 minutes if it's a really great job. And then, get on with it! Start looking for other stuff," Zitron says.

After all, it could have nothing to do with you.

"You could be coming in a quarter where they're doing very well, but then suddenly they're projected for low earnings and that changes everything," Zitron says.

Maintain a positive attitude.

"Trust that you are focused on an opportunity that is a great fit for your style and your career goals," Zitron says.

Keep quiet.

Although it may be tempting to let your co-workers in on your external prospects, Zitron says that's probably not wise.

"I find that not only do people resent [other] people getting good opportunities, they try to end-run them, meaning they find out where the person's interviewing and they put in their résumé," Zitron says. "[Talking] is not a good idea. Keep it to yourself. "

Stay on top of your goals.

Staying on top of job trends can be hard work, but it pays off, Zitron says.

"The people I find who manage stress the best are the people who know what their goals are," Zitron says."They believe that they deserve to have satisfying work, they expect to find it, and they consider themselves always tracking it. If you're working just for the money, it's a mistake. You're not in the right work. You should re- evaluate, because there are too many people out there having a wonderful time, and you should be one of them."

This story, "Managing the stress of looking for a job" was originally published by InfoWorld.

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