(This article appeared previously on LinkedIn.)
It’s 10:45 a.m. on Day 3 of my job search.
Committed to managing my energy level, I’ve decided to give my health club membership a workout and take a Zumba class (which I always wanted to do, but never had time for while I was working).
The class gave me more than just a strenuous workout. It reminded me of eight important job search lessons:
1. Knowing the basics helps. I’ve never taken a Zumba class, but as a former Jazzercise student, I love high-energy dance workouts. I find I easily remember the basics and can follow along and keep moving, even when the steps get complicated. Job search is the much the same.
While some things about looking for a job have changed, many of the basics of networking and relationship-building still apply. Realizing you already know some of the basics helps.
2. Don’t be afraid to learn some new moves. In order to grow physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, we need to be willing to learn new ways of doing things…pick up new moves. By stretching ourselves we gain strength and endurance. The same is true in job search.
Technology has changed how organizations and job seekers find one another. Existing technologies are constantly being improved and new technologies are emerging. To be successful, one has to be willing to learn some new moves. The important thing is staying open and being willing to learn.
3. Re-connecting with activities you enjoy is fun and builds confidence. Group fitness is a shared experience that builds community. Today’s class reminded me of this aspect and why I appreciate group fitness. The job-search process has its ups and downs — some days building your confidence, other days eroding it.
I left class feeling more optimistic and confident — two critical ingredients for staying motivated.
4. It’s never too late. A few minutes into class, I noticed a gentleman toward the back of the room. He brought some maracas to play along with the music. While he wasn’t able to do all of the moves perfectly, he modified and kept moving. He reminded me of one of my favorite quotes by George Eliot, which also applies to work transitions: It is never too late to be what you might have been.
5. Let go of the need to be perfect. For anyone who loves to dance, but doesn’t do it often or as a profession, you know that you won’t be perfect…and that’s OK. It’s the same with job search.
Most of us fear failure. But if you wait until you can do something perfectly or don’t try, you miss opportunities for growth and learning. Don’t worry about being perfect; just keep moving!
6. Enjoy where you’re at…today. Whether you’re learning new dance moves or working diligently to find a new job, it’s easy to get frustrated and long to be someplace else. A key to happiness in life and career is deceptively simple: Be here…now. This is really about living in the moment and enjoying the journey.
(MORE: How to Customize Your Resumé)
The more you can do these things, the easier your journey will be. If you're in transition, take advantage of the gift of time you’ve been given and enjoy where you're at (mid-morning Zumba class or wherever).
7. Be open to learning in unexpected places. When we’re open to growth and change, we discover that teachers often “show up” in unexpected ways and in unexpected settings. The same is true when moving through a job search.
We never know how, where or when a new opportunity may present itself or where opportunities for learning may arise. Stay open and receptive.
8. Everything seems better when listening to Proud Mary. Never underestimate the power of a great song to lift your mood and change your outlook.
Listening to Tina Turner singing her 1970 classic Proud Mary today made me think about the power of music and dialogue. What we’re listening to inside and outside of our heads matters. If your internal dialogue is overly negative or fearful, it will be difficult to keep your networking and job-hunting interactions positive and upbeat.
Similarly, if you’re listening to external stimuli that are downbeat (think Adam Sandler in the 1980’s throwback movie The Wedding Singer and the song he writes while listening to The Cure a little too much), that can also be a hindrance.
Surround yourself with music and thoughts that lift your spirit and make you want to dance.
I’m already looking forward to going back to Zumba class. Who knows what I’ll learn next time?
Susan Camberis, MSHR, SPHR is a Talent Management and HR leader, who is passionate about learning, corporate social responsibility, and career development. She is particularly interested in helping HR leaders build more sustainable cultures through employee engagement and talent development. Susan is a recent graduate of the Human Performance Institute’s Corporate Athlete program.