Bruce I. Doyle, III, Ph.D.


This was a frequently asked question by many of my former career counseling clients who have just been laid off - usually due to a reduction in force and, in most cases, through no direct fault of their own.  Job search books and outplacement manuals usually contain information aimed at answering this question.  Referring to issues such as: The Present State of the job Market - The Geographic Area Involved - The Individual's job Type and Compensation Level - The Amount and Quality of Effort Invested. 

Even though these factors are recognized and understood by most job seekers, the critical factor affecting the search is rarely - if ever -considered.  The critical factor in determining the outcome of a job search is "What the seeker believes about his/her situation and more importantly about him/herself." 

Power resumes, creative letters and polished search techniques are all ineffective if the candidate has less than positive beliefs about their new job possibilities or about their own value or self-worth. Many of us pay some attention to concepts related to positive thinking, but few realize the true personal power of our individual thoughts and beliefs.  All of our life experiences tie directly to our own thoughts and beliefs.  Our thoughts, though invisible to us, are minute packets of energy that exist: 1) to fulfill the intent of the thought and 2) to attract other thoughts that are similar. 

Thoughts that we accept or have accepted as "true" become part of our personal belief system.  Our "thoughts" control our emotions and therefore what we experience.  I'm sure you're familiar with visualization exercises that yield experiential sensations - puckering up as you visually taste a lemon or smiling as you think of a puppy, kitten or loved one. 

Do you know anyone who frequently says, "I hate myself" that is healthy, happy and prosperous?  Do you know anyone who is financially prosperous that believes they are poor?  Do you know anyone who is slim and trim that believes they are fat?  Do you know anyone who can do something that they believe they can't? 

How long do you think it will take you to get a new job if you believe your friend who says "there are no jobs out there" or "for every $10,000 of salary it will take you a month to find a new position?”  Don't get hooked into the general beliefs that the masses subscribe to.  It doesn't have to be true for you.  What you honestly believe is what you will create and experience in your life.  Believing is believing - not hoping.  Hoping for something is not the same as believing.  Believing contains no doubt.

When you're making a job change, for whatever reason, you're involved in a transition.  For most of us, the transition involves a difficult psychological process, requiring us to leave behind an old identity to take on a new one.  Transitions typically have three stages.  The End - saying good-bye with feelings of loss, grief and sometimes anger.  The Neutral Zone - being in limbo with feelings of confusion and no sense of direction or purpose.  The New Beginning - renewed clarity and vitality with feelings of excitement and anticipation.

What you believe about the change that occurred for you has a major impact on the outcome of your job search.  The unsuccessful job seeker will often get emotionally "stuck" - not being able to let go of the past and move forward with positive enthusiasm about new career possibilities. 

Limiting beliefs about being betrayed or victimized by a former employer with feelings of bitterness, resentment, anger and negativity can keep a job seeker "stuck" for many weeks.  Remaining in this emotional state will significantly inhibit the job search process.  Events, people and circumstances will arise to support the limiting belief of being a victim.  If a new job is found, it will most likely lead to the individual being victimized at work or being laid off again.

Individuals who are down on themselves, feel powerless and are still "smoking" about what happened to them just don't attract favorable responses, interviews and new opportunities.

The most successful job seeker will see the layoff as a positive event - if not initially, in a short period of time - and move on with excitement and anticipation about new opportunities.  They usually arrive at the belief that they are "lucky to be out of that place" while the unlucky ones are still employed but waiting for the next shoe to drop.

Layoff circumstances are many and varied, but whatever the circumstances, the past is the past - it’s over.  Let go and move forward with positive beliefs about your future.  Potential employers will quickly sense your energy and respond accordingly.  Be positive and enthusiastic - it's contagious.

My experience in working with those seeking new jobs strongly supports my belief that the most important factor in how long it takes to find a new job relates to the seeker's belief about him/herself.  Those who are positive, confident, have high self-esteem, and are enthusiastic about achieving a well-thought out and focused goal are the ones who get the ideal job.  They don't panic and take the first job that comes along.  They believe that they deserve the best and will hold out until the right opportunity comes along.  Doors just seem to open for those who are not willing to compromise themselves.  Those who feel good about who they are attract the best situations. 

There is a one-to-one correlation between what goes out and what comes back.  I've seen it time and time again - once the seeker gets emotionally clear and positive what comes back changes instantly.  It's interesting to see the change and hear them say, "Things are getting better out there."  What they are seeing is the reflection of what changed in themselves.  It's true that we attract unto ourselves that which is like we are being.

"How long will it take me to find a new job?" It all depends - on what you believe,

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