Can “Hope” be a Strategy for Job Hunting?

Job search has enormous potential for life transformation.

It may not seem that way, what with the current statistics that show there are still over 4 million of us who are long-term unemployed. The U.S. Census Bureau says 30% more households have at least one unemployed parent since 2005. The Labor Department estimates there were 312,000 fewer unemployed in its last report, but the reality is that number is actually reflecting the discouragement of those 312,000, who’ve quit their job search, giving up.

Much of what is creating this unfortunate circumstance is what can be called the “stigma of long-term unemployment.” There has always been a stigma around being laid off, as if it reflects poor performance and incapabilities at any level, no matter what the cause for the action.

In the latest recession, massive layoffs mostly had nothing to do with the skills of the employees who lost jobs. But Americans can’t shake the adage “It takes a job to find a job.” It’s as if you are unqualified to do your life’s profession if you’ve lost your job for any reason, whether it be for two weeks, or two months, or more.

“It’s time for Americans to rethink job search,” says Susan Howington, CEO of Power Connections, Inc., an outplacement and career strategy firm. “Job hunting can create a life for the better.” Howington is author of How Smart People Sabotage Their Job Search: 10 Mistakes Executives Make and How to Fix Them! “We get so caught up at the computer sending out resumes that we miss opportunities that will bring constructive change in our lives.”

Those come about by circulating in the working community through charity volunteering, apprenticeships, and internships. Being productive is key. “I suggest a combination of them because the more you circulate outside your comfort zone, the more hope you’ll have for meeting people who can decide to hire you for your talents,” says Howington.

If you’ve exhausted all avenues for employment in your field, consider the strategy of biting the bullet and taking a position in another field that will introduce you to people outside your sphere of  contacts. Going back to the “it takes a job to find a job” principle, you can have hope in meeting another potential job provider who can offer you a move in the future. You might even find happiness doing something that never caught your attention when you were employed before.

Remember, all work is respected, and offers the potential for hope that you can move forward once again in your life. Author John Maxwell says in Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Learn, “Hope is in the DNA of men and women who learn from their losses.” Choosing hope, he says, “turns victims into victors. The courage of hope is always rewarded.”

If you’re immobilized by ongoing unemployment, small steps will get you back into the job search scheme. “Depression is common as we enter the fourth or fifth month of unemployment,” says Howington. She emphasizes that it becomes critical for us to polish our shoes, update our haircuts and hairstyles, and freshly press our wardrobes to circulate publicly once again. “Hope comes from action. Action leads to opportunity.” John Maxwell concurs. “Positive thinking must be followed by positive doing.”

It never occurs to most of us that job search can result in personal and professional growth. Our belief is that those without jobs are somehow “less than” those who are employed. We can feel at a loss for capabilities when we are pounding the pavement and knocking on doors. It can be difficult to muster a positive perspective on our fates. By adopting an attitude of hope, thinking of ourselves as “victors,” and circulating among new acquaintances, we bring renewed energy to our job search.

Each step by step action, infused with hope, could be your ticket to a job search payoff you never imagined. It’s a strategy worth a try.