As many of you may know, the job hunting process is fraught with stress. You feel like you are riding a roller coaster each day – sometimes you think you are at the top of your game and at other times you feel like you have nowhere to go.

When you have no one to talk to about an issue or problem that you are having it is may because you are embarrassed to bring the subject up or that you have tried to discuss it a few times without having the support of other people in your life.

A few weeks ago, I conducted an Elephants at Work session with some unemployed job hunters.

So what is an Elephant at Work session? It is a workshop where I help people to identify the elephant in their lives. The elephant (according to Wikipedia) is a metaphor for an obvious truth that is being ignored or unaddressed.

If you ignore or leave an elephant alone, the elephant doesn’t go away – in fact, sometimes the elephants grows so big that it starts to impact relationships and your self-confidence.

During the session, participants share what their elephant is with the group and we work on finding a solution to making their elephant disappear or become less intrusive in their lives.

We had a lot of elephants in the workshop. Here is the list that was generated:

Being Fired or Loss of Job

Support System- Family, friends, ex-coworkers

Skills and Capabilities

  • My computer skills are very inadequate (insufficient) – not even enough to meet the requirements for my prior job.
  • Lost job. No notice, no performance appraisal for over two years, no complaints about performance. Excellent record of performance.

Career Direction

  • Still not sure what exactly I want to do (career goal). Makes the job search a frustrating process.
  • Not focusing on future career as much as I should – taking some “me” time before hard core search, but not sure I have full support of spouse and family/some friends.

Personal Concerns

  •  My weight and breaks in work history.
  • I shouldn’t be at this point in my life at 50 years old. I either should be at company “E” going into my 26th year; or at company “M” going into my 3rd year.
  • My elephant is my age. I feel too old to start over with no education, no energy. Don’t know where to start.
  • My age – I was fired from my last job.
  • I became pregnant after being fired with child #5.
  • TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury Survivor) yet still needing to be employed.
  • My wife’s death – people including my kids do not like to bring it up or discuss it.
  • Low confidence at this point.
  • Invasion of my social security number. This has created extreme distrust for me.
  • Ashamed/sad/de-motivated about being out of work AGAIN.
  • Perception of age barriers in the workplace – not fitting in- working days are past me.
  • Being a friend instead of a parent.
  • Personal family matters that affect job performance, children and marital situation.
  • Got fired from last job. Actually got fired from last three jobs. I feel ashamed and embarrassed. I have learned from each situation and grown from it (firings were not all my fault). I’m worried about what others think especially prospective employers. My friends and family are supportive.

Job Hunting Process

  • Fired from previous position- unexpected! Will not give reference.
  • Laid off twice in the last five years. Angry at situation – up and down (recruiters promise work and interviews but no results). Balancing multiple priorities.
  • Continued frustration with achieving finalist for landing a position, yet no offer given.
  • I want to start a new business – how to do it, identify all the resources I need to properly set up the business (both type of people who can guide me and specific people)
  • Laid off. Last I was unemployed was 30 years ago and surprised by what is involved in order to get another job. Getting a job with the computers and how to use them. Resumes and setting them up and what to put on them. Business cards and getting them into the hands of people would be interested in hiring you.
  • Taking too long to find a full time job.
  • Job went overseas. Difficult transitioning and finding similar jobs in the Rochester area. Looking to use skills from job and college degree acquired while on the job to fin full time employment.
  • I have a felony, Class D. I have to pay back money and return to court to make payment. I cannot work at a job for my career because I am a nurse and hold a license. Unemployment wants me to work now.

The group’s discussion was candid with help and support coming from many of the participants. The stories and specific solutions shared within the group remain private – by the group’s request. However, there are many career resources and articles on Elephants at Work that may help you today. Just follow the link on the elephant issue you are facing!