Editor’s Note:  John has spent more than 25 of his search career conducting primarily c-suite searches for hospitals and other providers across the US, from Hawaii and Alaska to the East Coast and internationally.  He also has an active career transition coaching practice.  He is recognition for his work in teaching executives how to improve their interviewing skills.  

Looking for a job can be one of the most arduous, emotionally challenging aspects of a career.  Even with executives who have enjoyed consistent success it is no walk in the park in today’s otherwise booming economy.  In industries like retail, media, manufacturing, healthcare and other sectors (excluding technology) most will land jobs, but the process of getting back to the executive suite will take time and it will probably be emotionally painful.  

Discouraging, exhausting, and frustrating are words I hear frequently.  

The underlying agitation is that most applicants are finding that all the things they did in the  past to land a job just are not as effective today, their successes notwithstanding.  

“Look, I have a been a CEO for 15 years and I have a record of accomplishment that is second to none so you should be able to find me a job in no time,” one exasperated CEO told me recently.  I got the feeling he thought I was his talent agent not his career coach.  (If he only knew the price difference in that role distinction.)  To be fair, he is not alone, the struggle to find another position is a new experience for many and it can spur feelings of anxiety.  Some of my potential transition advisory clients have resumes that reflect that they literally have never had to look for a job.  Ever.  For most their luck is about to change.

To be honest, career transition coaches cannot wave a magic wand and suddenly change overall economic conditions or the realities of a changing business model in a given industry. When market fundamentals are firing on all cylinders then the job market is much easier to navigate, but that is simply not the case today in some sectors.  

What Are Your Going to Do About It

The “why” this is happening is less important than the “what” you can or will do about it, which leads me to the soft skills requirements you must have to succeed to get through the process:  determination, confidence, faith, conviction and an attitude that will foster a willingness to change.  When people struggle it is frequently these soft skills that trip them up.  Most start out with determination and confidence.  They have faith (hope) that everything will work out but then they often create an assortment of barriers that preclude them from adapting to the changing conditions in the job market.  Faith is important, but only if you marry it to the conviction that unless you do everything that it takes to market yourself, including aggressive use of social media, this will be a long frustrating phase in your career.

Hiring A Coach Can Expedite Your Search

I believe, and the research suggests, that executives who engage career transition advisors, tend to land jobs faster than those who elect to go-it-alone.  That is true but you must be willing to do what they recommend, which is to say, run a search that reflects today’s digital communications/on line structure as opposed to looking for a job, to borrow a title from a Prince song, “like it is 1999.”