I recently spoke with a job networking group where each person was to identify their “elephant”. It is a process that I have designed to solicit the issues that are deeply held and often unspoken in our lives.
One of the responses read:
My working wife doesn’t understand the networking process I am doing…looking for the unadvertised jobs. She still thinks looking for and responding to job ads is the way to go.
The support system of your family is critical in feeling good about your job search. When there is resistance, misunderstanding or mistrust in what you are trying to do, tension can mount quickly.
In this real life example, the spouse is holding on to traditional thoughts of job prospecting or possibly is jealous or misunderstands why their partner spends time away from them. There are several ways to try and overcome the emotions that are brewing:
Initiate an Open Discussion
Ask your spouse or significant other to write down what their expectations and fears are about the job hunting process. You should do the same thing privately. After completing your lists, find a solid block of time – at least 2-3 hours in a private place to have your discussion.
Share your list with each other without passing judgment – I know that is the hard part. Let each other talk, do not interrupt – that’s another tough one!
If you have questions, write them down and when you are both done, take turns asking one another your questions. Try to frame your questions as clarifying vs. accusatory. The point is to gain additional information and insight into what your partner is thinking and feeling – not to pass judgment.
Why should you do this exercise? It is much easier to remain matter-of-fact and focus on the “to do” list or what we can control. Talking about and acknowledging both of your fears can be scary. Left unaddressed, those fears can become debilitating; create misunderstandings and communication breakdowns which can compound your problems.
Accept that there will be Uncertainty
Sometimes when we open up to talk about our fears, we become overwhelmed by our partner’s emotion – especially those emotions have been pent up. The natural inclination is to try and appease or try to fix it. The fact is you probably won’t be able to.
There may not be resolution on how to manage those fears and feelings immediately; however, vocalizing them is the first step to facing them.
The best thing is to acknowledge what is happening and that both of you will be facing a time of uncertainty – together.
It is important to admit that the family will be living in the world of ambiguity and uncertainty for a while. This can be an ego deflator especially if you have been the caretaker in the family. You may feel like you are falling down on your commitments and obligations. Openly acknowledging it will ease the burden.
Switching it up
Interestingly, fears can drive us to continue to do the same thing we have always done. There is a sense of comfort when we understand the rules of the game even if we fail to get results.
Different situations though require different solutions. Technology impacts how information is disseminated, it does not initiate the information – that is still controlled by a live person.
There is no doubt that technology advances in the internet and social media networks have a significant impact on how information is shared for job hunting. There is often a steep learning curve to learn what systems to use and how to manage them.
Through personal networking, you have the opportunity to get in front of the technology step – at the point where the hiring manager is still formulating the job. This approach can give you a significant advantage.
Jobs still exist through the more traditional channels of advertisement; however, if you are not using all the communication channels effectively, you are likely to be left behind. There are much better odds of getting your foot in the door when the hiring manager thinks they have found their candidate prior to advertising.
Invite your Spouse to a Networking Meeting
Sometimes the jealousy or fear is about the unknown. Your spouse doesn’t know what happens in these networking meetings. They may have misconceptions about what you are doing in these meetings, such as trading information on job leads or learning how to interview more effectively.
Your group leader may be open to establishing a spouse or significant other night where the group can share what the process is, why the support or informational meetings are important and let them experience it firsthand.