TOP TIPS FOR JOB HUNTERS: Use The Dogtown Legacy to Stay Upbeat and Succeed in Your Job Search

Stay Upbeat and Succeed in Your Job Search.

Posted Jul 14, 2010

How do you manage a challenging job search when your economic world feels topsy turvy? Is there something to learn from those who first survived and then thrived after the great depression? The Dogtown Legacy gives one answer.

The Dogtown Legacy

Dogtown is an authentic New England ghost town located in the Cape Ann area of Massachusetts to the east of Gloucester. It was so named after the US Revolutionary War. As the town declined, its dwindling numbers of residents included "witches," an assortment of odd characters, and howling dogs. The town was renamed for the dogs, and later became a ghost town.

During the great depression, the founder of Babson College, financier Roger Ward Babson, brought a crew of stone cutters to Dogtown. Under his direction they carved value mottos on Dogtown boulders. He did this to inspire people to persevere in hard times. I walked those grounds. Every which way you look you can find stone carvings on boulders aside paths bordered by brush and trees.

Babson caught flack from his family for "defacing rocks." Nevertheless, he believed it was important to give guidance and inspiration in dark economic times. The mottos on the boulders symbolized permanence in work values.

Can the value mottos help when you are out of work and view your work future as bleak? If you live your life through positive permanent values you can practically always find a way to emotionally and economically prosper even under austere economic conditions. The values won't get you the job, but they can drive actions that influence that result.

Get Up from Down Under, Boulder by Boulder

Ideas from The Dogtown Legacy can be made useful at any work age and rung on the work ladder. Let's take one of the more challenging job-search situations and look at using the legacy to persist to get a job. For if following a values approach to gain work helps at a most challenging age to find work, they apply at any other work-stage of life.

You are in the middle to twilight years of your career. You are out of work. From a psychological standpoint, how can you use The Dogtown Legacy to weather this economic storm and come out successful at the other end?

The following job-search search tips are inspired by these inscriptions: initiative; if work stops values decay; save; industry; study; ideas; kindness; use your head; courage; never try never win.

1. Initiative. Do you have a history of creating jobs for yourself to earn money? An out-of-work executive found he could earn more money on a weekend selling specialty items at a flea market than he did at his former job. A friend was forced into an early retirement following a breakup of his company. He was too energetic to sit on a rocking chair and tell stories. He did what he did best. He started a company to solve business problems, promote productivity, and reduce costs. Within months he had a thriving consulting business. I'm increasingly seeing initiative among semi-retired people with special talents who decide to keep using them.

2. If work stops values decay and Save. After being laid off, Beth felt the wind go out of her sails. She worried about running out of money and falling behind on mortgage payments. She stayed at the edge of despair. Upon reviewing the facts, Beth admitted she squirreled away enough cash to cover her next two years of expenses. She would have to cut back on travel and the expensive restaurants that she enjoyed. She could take day trips and patronize reasonably priced restaurants. She had the foresight to save money and she could use this same foresight to save time by worrying less. Although Beth had great sales talent, she got a temporary job working a cash register at a friend's hardware store. She understood that idle time gave her more time to worry. The job was temporary and therapeutic.

3. Study and Industry. During an economic depression Three D Thinking is an added threat. This is where you go from disappointment to discouragement to depression. For example, after sending out 309 resumes you get one interview and it doesn't work out. Disappointment is understandable. Semi-consciously add a layer of negative thinking to disappointment and you can feel discouraged. Dispiriting self statements like "This shouldn't have happened (to me)," can subvert realistic optimism. You extend this thinking by believing that "nothing will ever turn out well." When such depressive thinking blends with a dark mood, the thinking and mood combination can swirl into a tornado of distress. If you enter that depressing trap, study. See Knaus, (2006) The Cognitive Behavior Workbook for Depression. Oakland CA: New Harbinger and learn to recognize and defuse depressive thinking. Get active! From the time of ancient Egypt, activity has been a remedy for depression. Industry suggests how to stop a spiral of discouragement and depressive thinking. For example, do a career study. Consider alternative career directions. Return to school to retool. Learn new job skills. Get a job of any reasonable kind as you wait out the economic storm until a better time.

4. Ideas, Kindness, and Use Your Head. A quality job-search support group can inspire realistic optimism. Quality job-search groups are problem-solving groups. Members help each other by generating ideas to create or take advantage of opportunities. You show kindness when you empathically support others in their struggle to get work. When you refuse to get sidetracked by using the group for catharsis by complaining (a probable procrastination diversion), you use your head. How do you find job-search support groups? Inquire at your local employment security office, religious group, or social network. If you have organizing skills, think about starting your own job-search support group.

5. Courage. When you actively wait out an economic decline, does this mean that you sit on your hands? Hardly! Active waiting means active searching. Is that an act of courage, realistic optimism, or both? Courage is a conclusion that follows action.

6. Never try never win. During an active wait you may take interim positions where you are paid less that you believe you are economically worth. Is this a measure of your human worth? If you think so and then feel ego deflated, you suffer from a contingent worth problem. Stuck in the sludge of contingent worth thinking, you may ignore or degrade the value of your 18,000 or so personal attributes and millions of separate experiences. With a deflated ego you are more likely to slide into self-handicapping thinking. You handicap yourself when you convince yourself that you can't succeed. If you believe you can't succeed, you may, at best, make half-hearted efforts. This creates a self-fulfilling prophesy. You don't succeed because you believe you won't succeed. How could you possibly read the future with such accuracy? Can you eliminate serendipity from your future? If you don't try, how can you succeed? Act as if you will eventually succeed, and then never try never win says a lot!

Fearless Job Hunting delivers ideas for ridding yourself of job-search emotional anchors by identifying and correcting consistent thinking errors that undermine your search (Knaus, Klarreich, Grieger & Knaus 2010). If you drain time and resources in job-search procrastination see Knaus (2010) End Procrastination Now.

Dr. Bill Knaus