After & Before: 5 thoughts about the space between jobs

mkt st bdrige


We talk about ‘the marketplace’ and how to do well there–and it’s an important topic of conversation. But what about those not currently on that turf, due to a choice that’s been made by or for them?

This space in between leaving (or losing) and finding a job is one many have occupied–and a place people around us (maybe even we ourselves) are in now. What happens here?

As one who’s familiar with this experience, I’ve been pondering that question. There’s a lot of good advice available about tweaking the resume, mining the network, and following up on leads–but I’ve also found that this season goes a bit better if I keep ideas like these close to hand:

1. Waiting is inevitable. Things don’t tend to move all that quickly when you’re ‘in between’. Inquiries can fly out from the keyboard and hurtle into the ether, with resumes attached, at a blistering rate–but replies? thoughtful responses? acknowledgement that what you sent arrived? decisions about your suitability for the position in question? A fair bit of this occurs at the speed of continental drift. Crafting a strategy for filling time while we wait is crucial.

2. Friends are invaluable. People between jobs are counseled to ‘run your networks’–and there’s some merit to this. But friends are not simply useful for getting you through doors or on another’s radar. Friends encourage. They keep us from settling into troughs, and demonstrate that ‘normal’ has a very wide range. Friends remind us that ‘work’ is not always life’s best investment.

3. Reflection is possible. When everything is spinning along well–or, at least, when the days are fully subscribed by work and other responsibilities–it’s easy not to stop and think about deeper matters. Pull off into this ‘in between’ zone, though, and there’s plenty of opportunity for that. Funny: when I’m on another’s clock, it seems that having time just to think would be luxurious. Well, during the ‘in between’, that luxury is now affordable.

4. ‘No’ is frequent. Professionals whose business it is to assist those in transition remind us that most of what we hear after sending an inquiry about a position is No. We have an instinct about this, and so we send out lots of inquiries, but even still, No is tough to hear. So somehow, we have to find ways to keep sending, keep looking, and keep going even when No keeps happening. It helps to take emotion out of the equation (part of that means trying not to invest too much emotion until a possibility becomes a live option). Eventually we’ll hear Yes.

5. Needs are common. One of the most insidious things about being ‘in between’ is the tendency to think that we’re the only ones in real need–that the people around us (the people who have jobs) are fine and dandy. But pause for a moment in the telling of your own story and listen to the person across from you. Ask a question. Ask another question. It won’t take long to figure out that challenges abound. Not only that, but it’s not unusual for an idea to surface about what we might do for someone in need–even if, technically, we don’t at this point in time have an actual job.

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