Job Search Like Learning to Skate?


What does looking for a job have in common with learning how to ice skate?

Short answer: They both suck.

However, both are worth the effort. Let me explain:

A few days ago I went ice skating for the first time in years. I expected it to take me a while to get used to get my balance back. But the whole experience was more difficult and painful than I planned.

While my friends zipped around the skating rink, I gripped the rink walls trying to remember how to move forward and – most importantly – not get hurt if I fell.

The fear, frustration, and awkwardness of learning to skate is similar to what many job seekers feel when they are unemployed while their friends are zipping along in their careers.

Job seekers can feel left out, and worried they will never get their balance back and move ahead in life.

Here are a few helpful tips for both job seekers and notice skaters.

The only person who expects you to get it right the first time is you.
Looking for a job, like learning to skate, takes skills. When you first start looking for work don’t expect to know how to write the perfect resume, immediately find openings for your ideal job, be a master networker, ace every interview, or do all the other things job seekers are expected to do well.

Job hunting takes skill. Like a skating student, expect to stay close to the wall and go slow until you learn all you need to connect with employers.

Skate with a buddy.
Look around any ice skating rink and you will see a guy leaning on his girlfriend, friends laughing as they both hold on to the wall for support, or a parent picking up a fallen child. You will see people supporting each other. What you don’t see often is a beginner skater out there alone.

So why try to job search by yourself? Get help from friends with experience in human resources, work with coached at a nonprofit employment service, contact your local One-Stop or WorkForce Center, or join a job search networking group.

Job searching is hard. You will need people you can lean on and ask for help.

Don’t let the fear of falling stop you from lacing up your skates.
It’s normal to send out resumes and not get a response to each one. Most people do not get hired by the first company they interview with. And the first time you go skating, you will probably fall … a lot. Most people do. I did.

When rejected for a job, think of it as part of the process, not failure or the end of your efforts. Falling is a natural part of learning how to skate. Getting turned down for jobs is a common part of looking for work.

Find the humor in your frustration.
There a two reasons why so many video clips of people stumbling and falling are on YouTube.

  1. They’re funny.
  2. We all fall down.

When you feel like you will never find the right job, or you’ve just been told by another career advisor to rewrite your resume again, take a deep breath. Acknowledge your frustration and anger. Then turn your focus to something positive.

When you are feeling low, think of three reasons to smile. There are always at least three reasons to be happy or hopeful. Here’s one to get you started:

This situation that you are in is temporary. Your job search and financial situation will turn a corner. It might not happen when you want it to, but it will happen.

For the record, my skating adventure lasted about an hour. Near the end I was able to skate away from the wall but it wasn’t pretty.

Ice skaters are supposed to look like swans. I probably looked like a drunk walrus. But I did it. I kept going around the rink until I got my balance and was able to move forward.

I plan to go skating at least one more time this winter. I don’t expect to deliver an Olympic-level performance. But I know it won’t suck as bad as the first time.

Keep looking up.

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