WorkWise: Is anger foiling your job search?

culp@workwise.netMarch 11, 2013 

Anger could be impeding your job search, according to career counselor Deborah Brown-Volkman, president of Surpass Your Dreams Inc. in East Moriches, N.Y. She offers a host of reasons.

You might be tired of job hunting online, watching applications not go through and, when they do, not receiving responses. If you were fired, you may torture yourself with questions about whether you should have been more political. You might be angry about a company’s releasing you to avoid compensating you.

“You might be angry at yourself for seeing your termination coming and not doing anything about it,” this career coach remarks, “while you hoped the situation would improve. If you need a qualification or certification, you might be angry that you didn’t do a tuner.”

Career coach Laurie Battaglia, co-owner of Living the Dream Coaches LLC in Scottsdale, Ariz., would concur. She often hears complaints about unfair practices, including being passed over for a promotion. As your search lengthens, she observes, “the more you may think there’s something wrong with you. You may ask yourself, ‘What am I not doing?’ It may have nothing to do with you. When people don’t figure that out, they can come across in an interview as a person who will cause problems.”

Not everyone agrees that large numbers of job seekers are angry. San Diego, Calif.’s Travis Bradberry, president of TalentSmart Inc. in San Diego, Calif., sees more frustration and bitterness.

Anger doesn’t help a job search, indicates Marc Schoen, an assistant clinical professor at the School of Medicine, University of California at Los Angeles in Los Angeles, Calif. He reports that it is ineffective, a protective mechanism “shielding us from more hurts and disappointments.” The author of “Your Survival Instinct Is Killing You,” Schoen maintains that this emotion can make job searches backfire by “skewing our choices, constricting our potential for success and driving us to make decisions out of fear” (Hudson Street, forthcoming, March, 2013).

WHAT TO DO

If you’re still working, Gary Brown, a licensed psychotherapist (generalist) in private practice in Los Angeles, Calif., favors attempts to minimize frustrations caused by organizational change. Although he recommends speaking with a person at work, be careful about putting yourself at risk.

Bradberry, an industrial psychologist, advocates confronting your emotions head-on by being honest while documenting what’s bothering you. “A lot of people don’t,” he comments, “fearing (that doing so would) make their emotions stronger. Facing them head-on and understanding them diminishes their power and allows you to move forward.”

Battaglia recommends “rewriting your story before you start job hunting. Be aware of it and acknowledge your role in it. Reframe it so it sounds as if it’s coming from a place of power. Own what happened and put it out in a positive way.”

Brown-Volkman, some of whose clients have been unemployed for a year or two or never really had to hunt for a job, advises recognizing that job hunting will take longer and require more work in the past. “It’s harder now, requiring your active participation,” she points out, “possibly requiring you to humble or reinvent yourself by going back to school or updating your skills.” She mentions that hunting offline, too, is essential.

“If you tend to get angry a lot,” Brown-Volkman advises, “ask yourself what the typical triggers are and whether your anger follows you from one job to another. If so, you really have to start looking at yourself as probable cause.” Schoen, in either case, advocates striving to accept life’s disappointments.

Dr. Mildred L. Culp welcomes your questions at culp@workwise.net. © 2013 Passage Media.

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