In a Job Search, Isolation is the Enemy

When you are working at a job you usually don’t spend any time thinking about the number of people that you come into contact with on a daily basis. Meetings, phone calls, vendors, customers and dozens of other types of people vie for your attention each day. Sometimes you probably even think that it would be great if just for a little while they would all just LEAVE YOU ALONE! Wouldn’t it be great if just for a little while there were no people asking you for anything? Well, be careful what you wish for.

A day after you lose your job the quiet might seem really relaxing…a month after you lose your job the quiet is really scary. If they don’t do something to change it an unemployed person can go days without having a meaningful interaction with anyone. Awful thoughts can begin to creep into that person’s head: “Does anyone care about you or your situation anymore? Where are all the people that said that they were willing to help you the day you told them that you were losing your position?” Maybe the scariest day of all for a job seeker is the day that they realize that without some change in their activity or behavior the world will continue to spin just fine without them.

So what’s going on with all of those people that initially were so interested in your search? Don’t they know that you are wasting away at home and are desperate for any help or feedback regarding your work search? Aren’t they aware that if you don’t find something in the next month you are going to start to worry about paying the mortgage? Aren’t they out there “beating the bushes” for opportunities like they said they would the day you told them?

In a word: NO. Oh, by the way…when’s the last time you contacted them?

The truth is that most people are just too caught up in their own lives to keep track of how you are doing. More frightening is the idea that if you are really talented in their eyes and they haven’t heard from you recently the only logical conclusion they can come up with is that you HAVE landed a new job but just forgot to tell them. So they are not thinking about your situation at all anymore.

The worst part though is the effect that isolation has on you as a person.

It shouldn’t be lost on you that one of the worst punishments in a prison setting is solitary confinement. This punishment has been argued to be cruel and unusual punishment by prisoner advocacy groups. In movies and TV people in isolation are shown to go through tremendous mental anguish and beg to be put back with other people. Isolation does a number on the human spirit and needs to be avoided at all costs during a job search. How can we break this cycle?

Here are some ideas for reconnecting with the world if you have been hiding out for some period of time:

Recreate an event from your past with friends or family. Great memory of a picnic or a bowling night…how about doing that again? A party to re-watch and relive the Packers beating the Steelers in Super Bowl 45…great idea! Haven’t played cards with your friends in a while…seems like it might be time. How about reconnecting with peers from the job you had 7 years ago…they would love to hear from you!

To break isolation it is not necessary to make discussing your job search the reason you get back together…that conversation will likely happen on its own. Reconnecting with people that love and care about you is a great way for you to break the cycle of negative thoughts going through your head. Giving people a positive way to interact with you (so they know they won’t be coming over to hear your tales of woe) will make them anxious to see you again.

It is said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. Breaking isolation in your job search is as easy as a free nacho bar away. The value in reconnecting though can be priceless.

“Be humble, be sincere, ask for help…”


Comments 1

  1. Hi Cris,
    I attended your presentation at Blackhawk Techical College in Janesville. I have always been an introvert and reaching out to people has always been a struggle. In past years I have recommended positions to former co-workers that approached me, but I found it difficult to reach out to people when I was looking for a career changing position. The jobs that did come my way were always steps backward that I felt would only keep me from excelling for something better. I have education in Business, HR and Real estate including Appraisal, management and Sales. I know isolating myself has not opened the doors to the job market that I have sought with all the education I’ve worked to complete. Most of my previous contacts are in the same factory jobs. I ‘m not sure where to go from here.

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