What can help you find your answer?
You try optimism. Whispering under your breath, even in public, "I will get the job. I will get the job. And I will have it by next Thursday."
Not working? You try caution. Holding your expectations in check as if you are holding your breath.
You try common wisdom, like 'for every $10,000 in salary, the search takes a month.' That works for about 30 seconds, till you realize that it's ridiculous in so many different ways. Chief among them is that it discounts what is perhaps the single most important thing about job search: every single job search is different.
Every Single Job Search Is Different
Of course, there are similarities. But you really don't care about a similarity or a statistic here. You want to know how long it will take you to find work. So you start asking questions. You dig below the statistics, and you find that every successful search has it's own unique story. Maybe that story only lasts a moment. That moment when the interviewer said, "I feel like we are finishing each other's sentences," and the applicant knew they had the job. Search over. The clock stop stops ticking. That is how long it takes to get a job.
But the next story is different.
Infinite, personal moments. Moments that stretch into stories that drive the cliché merchants of career development crazy because these personal stories can't be put into simplistic "10 Step Checklists To Finding Work."
The checklists of clichés aren't wrong. For example, everyone does "need goals." And positive attitudes do feel better than negative attitudes. But the checklists of clichés are like band-aides on a gushing blood arterial wound. They are tiny strips of rationality in the world of job search dominated by broken systems, cost pressures and pure fantasy about what it takes to connect talent with a job. Every market has buyers, sellers and middlemen -- those who facilitate the transaction. And the middlemen of job search are at ground zero of these broken systems.
The checklists of cliché's feel good. But how much do they really help anyone but the checklist writer? How much do they prompt personal paths to finding work? More work? Or better work?
In a PERSONAL path the question must become "How long will it take ME to find work?"
For Ashley, it took four days. That was her immediate answer. But there was another part of the answer.
As A Member of the Community
Look a bit closer, you'd see that there is another way to answer the "how long does this take?" question. Another number. It did take Ashley 4 days. But it also took her 20 years!
Why 20 years? That's how long she'd been in the construction business. That's how long she'd been an active, vibrant member of the construction community in her city. The relationships she worked on and grew did not come from networking encounters. They came from decades of being on the inside of a community. Knowing the birthdays and mourning the deaths of the people in the community. When Ashley had her interview, she walked into the room and one member of the interviewing panel gave her a hug. The other asked about her mother.
As a member of the community, the question of "knowing someone" was not the point. The point was that in the community, she was already known. She didn't "know someone." She didn't have to. She was inside. Hence the 20 years.
But What If I'm Not IN a Community?
First, ask yourself: "am I sure?"
A community can mean any group with a common purpose. Internships are communities. So are churches, neighborhoods, people who get their coffee at the same coffee shop every morning, alumni groups, past employers and on and on.
Draw a circle for every community you are part of. Do any of those circles intersect with any others? Right there you have an even more powerful community. Most important, let stories of communities help lead you to other communities you just might be a part of without even knowing about. Let the stories prompt your thinking. This is what the stories in Finding Work When There Are No Jobs are for.
Second, find the needs of your communities. Are their healing needs? Safety needs? Needs for order, rules or discipline? Financial needs? Needs for integrity? And again, if you are not sure, go back to the stories in the book and let them prompt your thinking about finding needs.
In the book, we call this "communitizing." Becoming an active part of a community. Finding needs. Going beyond advertised jobs and finding needs.
And it's how Ashley found a job in four days.
Or was it 20 years?