Rivers of Thought

Life, Leadership, Business & Technology

#AmplifyYourJobSearch“How do you stay motivated during a job search?” Thas was the question posted on LinkedIn recently. My guess is it was posted by someone who was frustrated with their current search and was feeling very de-motivated. A job search can be very frustrating in “normal” times. In these COVID-19 global pandemic times, it can be downright depressing. We’ve been conditioned to send out dozens and dozens of resumes with the hope of getting a response. Many times we hear nothing. Occasionally, we may get a response that is a polite, “thanks, but no thanks” to our skillfully architected resume, receiving no actionable feedback. 

As our search stretches from days to weeks, to months the pressure and the stress mounts. So, how do you stay motivated during a job search? 

Go to work! 

Approach your job search like, well, a job. Your job is to locate your next job. Create a routine. Get up at the same time you were getting up when you were employed. Get showered, dressed, eat breakfast, and go to work. If possible set aside space in your home where you can work, uninterrupted (I know this is challenging with work-from-home spouses and virtual learning school children). 

Set measurable activities

Manage your daily activities. Your time should be focused on the activities most likely to create success. Statistics show that 87% of jobs filled are filled through professional networking. That means networking is your most valuable activity. Spend 80-90% of your time or about seven hours a day on building your network. 

Review your accomplishments

Celebrate the victories. When your spouse asks, “how many jobs did you apply for today?” Tell them about the valuable connections you made, the deep conversations you had, and what you learned from those conversations. Every networking meeting is a step closer to your next job. 

While thinking about your accomplishments, think about all your accomplishments in your career. You’ve done some great work! Acknowledge that to yourself!

Reflect on the journey

You knew journaling was going to find its way into my answer, didn’t you? Start a transition journal. Spend time writing in it each day. Write about your successes, write about the challenges. What are you thinking? What are you feeling? Take time periodically to read back through your journal. Take encouragement from the progress you have made. 

Give yourself some slack

When you were employed, did you ever have one of those days? You know, the kind of day that is a grind just to get up and go to the office. The day drags by. Give yourself some slack. Those days are going to happen in your search. Acknowledge it. Try to make the next day better. Give yourself some grace, take a day off. Rest, recharge, and attack your search again tomorrow. 

Stay connected

No, I don’t mean connected like the internet-connected, I mean, stay connected to yourself and others. One of the key elements of dealing with stress is connectedness. Stay in tune with yourself and your stress. As stress begins to mount, reach out to a family member, reach out to a friend. Talk to them. Share your frustrations, vent. They will understand. Reach out to me, I’m happy to jump on a Zoom call! 

Have a question? Send it to me at Jeff.Ton@TonEnterprisesLLC.com and I will be glad to share my thoughts. 

Many of these ideas are featured in my new book, Amplify Your Job Search – Strategies for Finding Your Dream Job! Learn more and order your copy by clicking on the cover: #AmplifyYourJobSearch #GetHired

Let’s do coffee. I would be hard-pressed to count the number of cups of coffee I’ve had at local coffee shops. Two, three, four times a week for ten or eleven years. THAT is a lot of coffee. Let’s do coffee. It sounds like a tone-deaf imperative in this age of social distancing. However, despite the stay-at-home and social distancing mandates, it is a practice I have maintained, albeit virtually. 

Let’s do coffee. It is a commitment I made eleven years ago. It’s my way of saying thank you and paying it forward to those who took time out of their busy schedules to have coffee with me. In 2009, I found myself in a position I had not been in up to that point in my career. I was in a job search. I was in a job search without having a job. I was struck by the number of people who stopped what they were doing to meet for coffee, talk, and help. 

What is it about coffee?

Today, my coffee meetings fall into three broad categories: catching up with friends, sales professionals who want my take on the local market, and, yes, people in transition (and those considering a change). Whenever anyone in the latter category reaches out, my answer is “Let’s do coffee”. 

In fact, “Let’s Do Coffee” was the working title for my new book Amplify Your Job Search – Strategies for Finding Your Dream Job. Until, well, you know, branding (hey, I am kind of the #AmplifyGuy, #RockandRollScarecrow, #RocktheSox guy). The book is a culmination of lessons learned, advice received, advice given, and experience. Sorry for what feels like a commercial interruption, that is not my intent…but, if you want to buy the book you can get it on…nevermind!

Over these years of having coffee, I have seen many professionals who were prepared for their search. They knew who they were and they knew what they wanted. I have seen others who, well, weren’t and didn’t. Other than working with the university’s career services department or with an outplacement firm, we don’t teach someone how to search for a job. (Hence, the need for the book and more shameless promotion of same). 

I believe the difference between those who did and those who didn’t comes down to two essential and related practices: reflection and branding. 

Reflection

Journaling has been a part of many successful leaders for centuries. The library is full of biographies and autobiographies of business leaders, government leaders, and thought leaders. The common thread, most kept some sort of record (uh, journal) of their thoughts, insights, and activities. 

Keeping a journal is a powerful tool. Not only does it help you to keep track of details that would be lost to time, but it provides a way to learn from the past…your past. Part of the magic of keeping a journal is to re-read it, weeks, months, even years later. The magic? The lessons change! Why? The journal hasn’t changed…you have!  

Keeping a journal is a great way to understand who you are and what you want and need from your career. I know I have written of this in prior posts…I just can’t emphasize the importance enough. 

Branding

Personal branding is the other essential element, and yes, it is related to journaling. Branding is who you are and how others see you. I was first introduced to personal branding in the mid-2000s by a boss of mine. I have to admit, I thought it was a load of crap! (Sorry, Ron!). Like many lessons in life, we learn the value of something long after we have been introduced to it. 

We all have personal brands. It’s our reputation. How do people see you? What are their first impressions? What are their lasting impressions? That is your personal brand. The question isn’t do you have one, but rather, is it an intentional one? Do you curate your brand? 

A personal brand is made up of four components: your strengths, your values, your passions, and your purpose. Identifying those components takes deep reflection (hence the relationship with journaling). Have you done the work? Do you know your personal brand? 

Coffee and Leadership

Reflection and Branding are not only essential to a job search. They are essential to leadership. If you don’t journal, I urge you to start today. It is easier than it sounds. If you don’t know your personal brand, begin to explore the key components. THAT is your call to action from reading this post. Start today! 

Read more about reflection, branding, and coffee in my new book Amplify Your Job Search – Strategies for Finding Your Dream Job! Learn more and order your copy by clicking on the cover:

Amplify Your Job Search

From “Down an Indian Trail in 1849” by Mary K. Rowlands

Last month, as you may recall, I invited you along on a journey: a journey of discovery into some of my family history. I’ve learned a lot in one month..but have a lot more to learn. I’ve exchanged LinkedIn messages with LeRone Branch, the Eagle Scout turned Tax Accountant, who helped develop the memorial to my great-great-grandparents Jan and Aagje (Vander Sijde) Ton. I’ve emailed several times with Paul Ton of Michigan, descended from Jan’s brother, Harmen, and I’ve read two and a half books that mention Jan and others in the Ton family. 

Correcting the Record

Part of what I have learned is that I had some of my facts wrong in my post last month. In that post, I mentioned Jan and Aagje immigrated to the U.S from Holland (Netherlands) in the 1840s with eight of their nine children. That is not correct. As is often the case with old records, it is easy to get confused when children carry the same name as one of their parents. Many times records do not include suffixes such as Jr. or Sr. or even II and III. 

My great-great-grandfather, Jan, was 23 years old and single when he immigrated to the U.S. aboard the ship, “Massachusetts of Boston”, sailing from Le Havre, France in April of 1849. Jan was the son of Jan and Peterje (Stam) Ton, my great-great-great-grandparents. THEY had nine children. It was eight of their nine children who, over time, immigrated to the U.S. So, you can see how confusing that can get! The “Massachusetts of Boston” carried two Tons across the Atlantic, Jan and his married sister, Jannetje (Ton) Eenigenburg. Many of the families settled south of Chicago near Lake Calumet. Jan and eight other immigrants are considered the founding fathers of what is now Roseland, Illinois. 

It appears from the records I can find there might have been some shenanigans going on onboard the ship. Jan and Aagje’s first son, Jan Jr. was born in February of 1850. Jan and Aagje would marry in 1853 and raise 14 children to adulthood.

The Underground Railroad

I am certain to have many more stories to tell as I learn more, but, I do want to relate a story that directly connects Jan and Aagje to the Under Ground Rail Road. The story is found in the 1923 book “The Wonder of the Dunes” by George A. Brennan. You see, what is now Indiana Dunes National Park was along traveled by many freedom seekers on their way from Chicago to Detroit and on into Canada. The Hollanders settlement new Lake Calumet was leading station along that portion of the underground railroad. 

This particular story was retold many times over the years by Cornelius Kuyper, a dear friend of my great-great-grandfather’s and the town constable. Mr. Brennan records the story in his book. In his capacity as the constable, Kuyper was often called upon to assist in capturing run-away freedom seekers. He would attack each request with such zeal and effort, he would receive praise from slave owners and sheriffs alike…though…he never succeeded in capturing any freedom seekers.  

A Story to Tell

As Kuyper tells the story, one day he was visited by a slave owner from Kentucky, a sheriff deputy from Chicago and a posse. They were pursuing three freedom seekers, each with a $3,000 price on their heads. As was his norm, Kuyper searched high and low for the runaways, even taking the posse as far as the Illinois-Indiana state line. Once again, he came up empty-handed. 

When they returned to Kuyper’s home, his wife Maartje prepared and served them a meal before they headed back to Chicago. After they were safely on their way, Kuyper headed into his cellar, opened a trap door, and summoned one the freedom seekers who he had hidden away. He then went to the barn and moved part of an immense stack of hay, the other two freedom seekers emerged. He fed them, had them climb in his wagon covered them with cobs of corn, and took them to the home of Jan Ton. Jan hitched up his wagon, transferred the precious cargo, and headed out toward Indiana. Near the town of Hohman Bridge (today’s Hammond, Indiana), the cargo was transferred to another wagon. The freedom seekers were well on their way to Canada. 

One can only imagine the countless times these men and women provided this service to others on their journey! 

As I learn more, we will continue on this journey together. Until next time! 

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INSIGHTS

Insights is the weekly, thought-provoking newsletter from Jeffrey S. Ton.
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