A Free Crash Course for Successful Job Hunting
By Dr. Bill Knaus, EdD
Take this free job hunting course and learn10 essential job search methods, 12 critical search resources, and a simple-to-use emotional survival kit to avoid job-search stress. Pick and choose the parts you want. There are no grades. The job you get is your reward.
This course first appeared on Dr Knaus' blog Science and Sensibility that he maintains on the Psychology Today website.
The REBT Network is greatful to Dr. Knaus for his permission to republish the course here.
Ten Essential Job Hunt Methods
Draw ideas from the articles in this crash course and use them to power your job search engine. Each concise article hones in on an essential job hunt idea and shows you how to apply it. For example, you are likely to benefit from staying in an optimistic mindset and using psychology to sharpen your interviewing skills. To get a jump-start on your job hunt, follow the links. Meet the challenge.
1. Get into the right frame of mind to get the job.
2. Get on a correct career track with a job that fits your interests and abilities.
3. Create a pleasant, productive, professional job-search environment.
4. Passionately pursue your job objective and optimize your efforts when you need a peak performance.
5. Pressure proof yourself and stop carrying job-search stress thinking on your back.
6. Use 20 high octane tips to build a sophisticated resume and get on the shortlist of preferred candidates for a job.
7. Stick to your positive values, stay upbeat in your search, and move forward with confidence.
8. Give your search a rocket boost by networking. Learn how to do this effectively.
9. Tip the balance in your interview by: (1) showing you are knowledgeable about the organization; (2) communicating with positive impact; (3) responding effectively to interviewer questions. Then close the deal.
10. Keep procrastination out of your job search. Take my procrastination test. Link directly to solutions. Learn to deal with writer's block procrastination and finish that resume or letter. Follow five quick tips to stop job-search procrastination.
For in-depth information on each of the 10 critical job-search steps, plus how to negotiate job contracts, see Fearless Job Hunting (Knaus, Klarreich, Greiger, and Knaus 2010. New Harbinger.) These four top expert doctoral level psychologists and business consultant authors share their extensive knowledge on how to conduct a successful job hunt.
Most people are as much behind the eight ball on their job searches because of procrastination as they are because of a bum economy. To boost your job-hunting productivity, see Knaus (2010) End Procrastination Now. McGraw-Hill. If you have a hard-core case of procrastination, see Knaus (2002) The Procrastination Workbook. New Harbinger. Do it Now conveys extensive general information to curb procrastination (Knaus. 1997. John Wiley & Sons).
Twelve Critical Job Resources
Having quality job hunt information can reduce feelings of uncertainty and stress and promote feelings of encouragement that come from knowing you have the tools to do the job. Use these twelve resources to build that confidence you know you have. The resources are all useful. Some are preferred sites.
1. The O Net career exploration and job analysis site is a federally-funded preferred job search site:
O Net has self-administered tests to judge career interests. The tests are useful for anybody, but especially people making career changes and students going from the classroom to the world of work. Use the tests to zero in on the right job for you. This preferred career site is free, but requires work to earn a knowledge benefit.
2. The one-stop career site provides information on careers, salaries and training, job-search techniques, people and places to go to for help, and federally funded employment training and re-training programs. This preferred career site is free, but requires work to earn a knowledge benefit.
3. The US Government Occupational Outlook Handbook is full of free information for where to locate jobs, evaluate different types of work, predict career trends, obtain interview tips, and more. This is a preferred site:
4. USAjobs is a source of information for getting federal jobs, or "working for America." It is a preferred career site.
5. If you have a disability and want job-help information, here is the preferred site:
6. Do you qualify for a Pell grant? This federal grant for low income students helps them pay for a baccalaureate degree or for post baccalaureate education leading to teacher certification. If you qualify, getting a degree can be a great way to wait out an extended recession and come out the other side with saleable skills. This is the preferred Pell grant site:
7. Take advantage of the resources at your public library. This is a preferred resource. Your librarian can direct you to multiple job resources. Some libraries have on line job-search help:
Libraries will subscribe to business and investment digests that assess companies according to their expected growth. High growth organizations will be hiring now or in the future.
8. The Riley Guide provides quality, free career information and is a preferred site. This preferred site has information about the nuts and bolts of a job search. It has useful features, such as exposing fraudulent practices by unscrupulous scam artists who take advantage of the vulnerability of many job hunters.
9. If you want to use a commercial Internet database to search for employment opportunities, Monster.com and Careerbuilders.com can help. Monster.com is a preferred site that provides career tools and opportunities to network with people in your field or profession, locate jobs, and post your resume:
10. State department of employment security offices provide assistance if you are unemployed and seek work. See the following examples:
11. Internet versions of major newspapers have classified section job advertisements with self-help tips:
12. Leave no stone unturned.
Don't forget your college or university placement office, union, and Chamber of Commerce for information on jobs. Check your state or local government for job opportunities. Check with your state senator or representative for jobs opportunities they know about, and what they are doing to support job growth in your area.
Your Emotional Survival Kit
I can practically guarantee that you'll approach your job search differently when you follow the path of a realistic optimist than if you felt discouraged about your future. But if you count yourself among the millions who feel discouraged about your job prospects, pessimism is an enemy.
You may believe that the economy is worsening. You may have a good basis for that belief. You may think the country is going down the tubes and it is time go to Tahiti. That pessimistic view may be harder to prove.
Pessimism is a belief. A belief is a conviction that is largely or partially true, or holds no water at all. You could believe you were an automobile. Would that mean you'd get your meals from a gas pump? By learning to recognize and dispatch harmful pessimistic beliefs, you open opportunities to experience psychological well-being, whether you are working or not.
Suppose you tell yourself there is no hope for a job so you might as well leave the country. This view can feel demoralizing. It also is self-handicapping, which means you excuse yourself from following through on a potentially productive effort. Do you think you'll make a good faith effort when you've already declared defeat?
Psychologist Albert Ellis, the founder of rational emotive behavior therapy, introduced a self-help ABC method to make positive changes. It is an essential part of an emotional survival kit. I'll show how to use the ABC method to deal with self-handicapping pessimism, and to get on a path of realistic optimism. First, here is a brief explanation for the ABC system.
Emotions have triggers. It can be a passing thought, a change in a body sensation, or an external event, such as a job loss. The activating trigger is the "A." The "B," or belief, refers to how you perceive, define, or think about the event. The "C" refers to emotional and behavioral consequences that extend from your beliefs about the event.
The ABC organizing system opens options, including the option of doing an emotional problem analysis. For example, you can think about your thinking, separate fictional from functional beliefs, concentrate on advancing your functional beliefs into constructive actions. That's a positive start to this analysis. Now, let's look at a sample application where self-handicapping prompts procrastination.
1. The "A" is a longer than desired time to find a job.
2. The self-handicapping "B" is that it makes no sense to try; there are no jobs.
3. The emotional "C" is emotional despondency. The behavioral "C" is sidetracking yourself into non-job-search activities, such as watching TV soap operas. You also may make half-hearted efforts.
This process is like lacing your ankles and claiming this is why you can't run the race. But isn't this creating a self-fulfilling prophesy? This is a prediction that causes itself to be true.
As psychological beings, we are often swayed by emotions of our own making. It is only by sitting back, reflecting, and figuring out what is happening that we expose our own mental myths, misconceptions, and false assumptions to ourselves. This exposure won't improve the job market. But it can lead to improved performances and getting a job sooner rather than later. Instead of mulling over what yo believe you can't do, you do what you can. You are less likely to feel bogged down by stress and disadvantage yourself from anticipating and fearing failure.
Are all beliefs dysfunctional? Hardly! Figure that "A" is the time lag between the start of a search and getting a job. It's a reasonable assumption (belief) that on average it takes longer to get a job under weak economic conditions than during economically normal or prosperous times. This is a reasonable "B" interpretation. The one that causes the trouble is the self-fulfilling prophesy, or self-handicapping belief. In such cases, it pays to think about your thinking, and question what you think,
Let's examine a self-handicapping belief that it makes no sense to try, or to try very hard to find a job. Here are sample exploratory questions:
1. If a job market is tight, where does it follow that it makes no sense to try?
2. Are there zero new job openings for you?
3. Are you truly dead in the water when it comes to finding a job?
4. Can you prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that you can't find work, or are you saying that job searches take longer than usual?
Sensible answers to the above questions can trigger a realistic new perspective. For example, it doesn't logically follow that because a job market is tight it makes no sense to try. As an alternative, you might conclude that a search is a numbers game. The more opportunities you find or create the more you improve your chances to get a job.
Suppose you gather data on the average time to get a job in today's economy. You find the average job search is around 35 weeks. That supports your view that the average time for a job search is longer than usual. What actions can you take, starting now, to beat the averages?
Here is where a change in perspective can make a positive difference. You can't control the job market. You can take charge of yourself: how you think, how you feel, and what you do. By working to compete against the averages, your goal changes from procrastinating on your job hunt to acting to meet a challenge. Now, operating with a challenge perspective, do your emotions change from pessimism to realistic optimism?
By taking this ABC step, here is example of what you can accomplish. You engaged in functional thinking by recognizing and then abandoning a self-handicapping fiction. You learned that you can tell a fiction by its results: a self-handicapping fiction figuratively motivates going around the same turnstile; you keep paying the same emotional penalty. You stop paying the penalty by changing your thinking. However, you won't get far past the joys of self-revelation unless you translate this new thinking into productive actions, and then keep moving forward with these actions.
Is there a map for taking new actions? Self-efficacy theory gives a map. This is a felt belief that you can organize, regulate, and direct your efforts to achieve a goal of getting hired.
You can find over 16,000 professional articles on self-efficacy in the American Psychological Association database. There is ample evidence to show that this belief stimulates higher level work performances. You can have greater confidence following this evidence-based method than swallowing flimsy inspirational hype.
It takes time, effort, and practice to make a radical shift from thinking unreasonable but discouraging thoughts to a self-efficacy perspective. How might you translate a self-efficacy belief into constructive actions?
1. Set a relevant, measurable, and attainable goal, such as "I will work on my job hunt between 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM Mondays through Fridays. However, what do you do during that time?
2. Create an action plan. This is a design for what you will do within that time period. Your plan initially can include taking two hours each day to study the information about the 10 critical search conditions. Search job-hunt relevant Internet websites. Make library visits. Upgrade your job search materials. Use the remaining six hours for networking, identifying job opportunities, and so forth. Set a realistic and flexible schedule for each day the night before. Now, custom build your own job-search success plan.
3. Address any emerging procrastination barriers to your planned execution by doing an ABC analysis. Once you identified fictions, examine and counter fictions that interfere with functional job-search thinking and actions. A common procrastination fiction is that you have to feel inspired before acting. I handled that fiction in my earlier Do it Now book: do it even if you don't feel like it.
4. Persist with a do it now plan of taking reasonable job-search steps in a reasonable way using a reasonable amount of time to achieve the productive goal of getting the job you seek.
Once you agree with yourself that you'll get farther with self-efficacy than with self-handicapping, are you out of the woods? You won't perfectly maintain a realistic action perspective. Who does? By going back again and reengaging a self-efficacy approach, and by practicing the self-teachable ABC system, you add a favorable wind to your job-search sails. You can use these two life skills in different ways in different circumstances for decades to come.
If you believe you can profit from additional self-help readings on the use of the ABC method, here are three references:
Knaus, W. (2006). The Cognitive Behavior Workbook for Depression. Oakland CA: new Harbinger.
Knaus, W. (2008). The Cognitive Behavior Workbook for Anxiety. Oakland CA: New Harbinger.
Knaus, W. (2000). Take Charge Now. NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
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Source URL: http://www.psychologytoday.com/node/45851