If you use a Blackberry to stay connected during your job search, read on . . .
Edgar Allan Poe wrote a short story in 1843 called The Tell-Tale Heart. If not familiar, the story is about a man who kills another man. He hides the body under the floor boards and calmly responds to police when questioned. Until, that is, the (supposed) beating of the dead man’s heart causes him to experience an unquestionable madness. Click the link above if you’d like to read it now.
Why am I forcing literature on you? Well, first of all, it’s good for you. We all need some culture now and again. Second, if you are out of work, well, you have some time on your hands and reading isn’t a bad way to fill your day. Third, there is some value in a lesson I picked up as a result of re-reading the story.
That lesson? Patience.
Of course, it is actually broader than that. Yes, it is about patience. But it is also about the benefits gained as a result. They include perspective, confidence, peace of mind and a calm exterior.
So, what does Edgar Allan Poe’s story have to do with a modern smart phone like the Blackberry? Well, I had a thought one day during my 2007 job search. I looked back on my 2007 journal, as I often do when looking for topic ideas for this blog. I found a note that I wrote about 2 months into my job search. A time when my early expectations about how quickly I would find a new position began to meet reality. The note?
“The red light blinking on my Blackberry feels like the beating of The Tell-Tale Heart.”
In my case, however, I was anticipating a blink vs. dreading its arrival or continuance. It’s somewhat like waiting for a pot to boil, but there is so much more riding on it vs. a warm cup of tea. Once the light started blinking, my hopes often soared. A bit sad, really.
What happens when your plan does not happen as quickly as you hope? Well, naturally, you become impatient. Just a little bit at first. No one would ever notice it. But as the days move along, you naturally have increasingly demanding expectations. And, before long, some of that manifests into anxiety. The result of anxiety is impatience.
When we are impatient, we can act impulsively. Resulting, often, in bad decisions.
1. We can over-communicate with recruiters, companies and our own network.
3. We can return calls and e-mails too quickly and with too much interest.
5. We can accept a first job offer, even if it is not a good fit or worthy of our experience.
In this case, impulsive action can damage your prospects or get you into a job that you will likely be leaving within 6-12 months.
So, back to the red blinking light. I am embarrassed to say it, but, on my worst days during job search I would sit for a minute or two and watch for that red light (on those days where nothing was happening). And, on those days, when it started to blink. Or when, after leaving the gym, I found it blinking. My heart would jump as I thought “this could be the one”.
I never faulted myself for the emotion. It’s natural to be excited about things that are important in life. The key, I think, is in planning your reaction to the message. The psychology management says:
If it was junk mail, forget it ever blinked.
If it was a note from a friend, focus on that person and let the anxiety of “who it could have been” fade away.
If it was a negative response on a resume or interview, be objective and thankful for a response.
If it was a positive response, give it a couple hours to follow-up. But allow yourself a pat on the back and focus on what you did differently this time to get that response.
Because . . .
The waiting and anticipating can break you. It can put you in a defensive position and mindset. Instead of waiting, you should be acting. Networking to create more opportunities instead of waiting for the light to blink.
It can drive you mad.
Written by: Tim Tyrell-Smith
Categories: Positive Attitude