Career professionals give a lot of advice. Some good. Some bad. As I say about career experts, we come in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders, beliefs, and backgrounds. And just because we say it, doesn’t mean it’s true for you. Or, if you like the advice, maybe you have no time or money to follow through on all of it.
That last part is why I’m writing this. I was reading a thread of comments on Twitter recently. Basically the complaint was that we so-called career experts are privileged and have no idea what the real world is like. They point to lack of time, money, and energy getting in the way of the advice. And I get that.
But I also want to say there are some of us who have been down to our last dollars. Or at least experienced an unfair system. And worried that we’d never find a job again. We know how it feels to get rejection after rejection. And to see no light at the end of the tunnel. Or, for those who coach, we’ve worked with (and helped) people in those circumstances.
My take on giving advice to others
Even if I can never walk in your shoes, I do think about how hard it must be for you. How scared you feel much of the time when no job is on the horizon — for way too long. And how ignored you feel by the system.
So when I offer advice that seems like it comes out of an airy-fairy ivory tower, I hope you at least know that I’m giving tips that actually got me through what felt impossible. And I hope you give YOURSELF a chance to see possibility where none seems to exist anymore.
No … each and every bit of advice might not be right for you. And I get that you might have no time or money to follow all of it. Or even most of it. But I trust you enough to know that you might turn some of my words and ideas into sparks that ignite your own ideas.
Daring to believe in yourself. And that you CAN find a way out. And that even something like learning a new skill that feels so impossible when you have no money for classes or time / leftover energy … well, there still might be a way.
My “no time or money” skills story
Even after I had my graduate degree, there came a time when I couldn’t get anyone to hire me. Or so it felt. And eating and rent seemed pretty darn important. So I started doing temp work — simple reception work through a temp agency. And I did it as well as I could, despite my years of experience and degree.
No, the temp work could not pay all my bills. But it could at least help decrease borrowing money and get me back working again — and meeting people who might help. And remembering what it felt like to contribute. Even if only to make someone else’s day easier. I also gained a new respect for being a receptionist.
Well, I kept my ears to the ground and listened. Meanwhile I kept my smile ready to ignite, and helped others where I could. People liked me, which is good. But still, I was just the receptionist in their eyes.
Then opportunity presented itself.
I heard someone I was friendly with talking about needing help with an inventory database using some Microsoft software. Although I had no idea what it was, I spent the next week teaching it to myself through trial and error. (Admit even more learning on the job.)
And then I offered my temp services to them as someone who could enter data and maintain the database. And they said yes. And not only did I talk my way into a higher-paying temp job (consultant on my resume), but I learned enough about their work to talk my way into an actual much better job after a while.
A few more thoughts
Doing whatever you do as well as you can — even seemingly low level jobs or part-time volunteer work (even just an hour here and there) — can get you new contacts. And new opportunities. Ones you could never imagine until you put yourself in a place to be seen. Especially if you come in with an attitude of resourcefulness, helpfulness, and self-pride. No matter what you are doing!
Beyond the direct opportunity possibility, there is an added benefit. How you feel about yourself and the world shows to others. More than you can imagine. No matter how much you try to hide it.
And how you feel about yourself affects how you present yourself in interviews, networking, and job search in general. So maybe … just maybe … even if you think no one gets how hard it is or how high the mountain is to climb, maybe you can open up to some of what you read. You may find a way to adjust it to your situation. And your needs.
Even with what feels like no time or money, positive action aimed at opening up possibilities can be energizing. And can help you see small cracks in what’s possible for you. Action … small steps of any kind toward hope … helps. Standing still just keeps you stuck.
And in case you’re still thinking “she just doesn’t get it” … well, think about what someone who does get it might say. Someone you do trust, who has found their own ways to make the impossible work. Really try. You might surprise yourself with your own “maybe I can” answers.
Even if you think advice is not for you …
Stop and think about any parts that might be.
If we knew it all, we wouldn’t be looking for advice.
But you have more power than you think.
Even a small seed of truth can spark new ideas.
And open new doors.
You don’t have to believe in me.
But please believe in yourself!
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