One of the most important things you have to do in the beginning stage of a job search is to look at your financials. Being practical, if you’re not working, you probably have financial considerations to examine. They’re far more important to you right now than looking ahead two or three years from now. You’ve got bills to pay.
I encourage people to sit down right at the beginning of their search and examine their expenses closely. Go back two months and look at the checks that you’ve written, look at the money you’ve laid out of pocket, and see if there’s a way that you can cut back on your costs. Be proactive. To be blunt, if you don’t have financial staying power, you’re going to be under the gun in every interview you’re on and that’s a hard position to conduct yourself from.
From the perspective of cutting your expenses, you must do so urgently, before unnecessary pressure hits; cut them back now— This will allow you to really investigate opportunities for yourself and put you in a stronger position rather than one of neediness.
The formula that is often used is that you need a month of job search time for every $10,000 of income. Now, in great times that figure is cut very dramatically. So a person making $60,000 probably doesn’t have to worry about six months; it’s more likely going to be six weeks. But in bad times, it can be a lot longer. Someone earning $60,000 may take six or seven months to find work. In our recent recession, it often took people making $150,000 annually more than one year to find work and often they accepted jobs for a lot less money.
While you’re looking, it’s okay to take out unemployment insurance for a while. It isn’t a lot of money, it’s taxable, and it runs out pretty fast. So for that person making $150,000, it won’t go far. I’ve seen a lot of people use up their 401 k’s and refinance or sell their homes while they’re on the pavement looking for work.
You’re always in the best position when you can act early to do cost containment. Do you really need to buy the kids another pair of $250 sneakers? Do you really need to go out to dinner tonight? That could be money better spent on giving you more time to land the job that you really want, instead of being forced to take
One of my clients, Larry, wanted to be a program manager, eventually a Chief Information Officer or Chief Technology Officer. We’d get together at intermittent points and see where he was on the career highway. I would point him to people I had been in contact with who could help guide him or offer him some mentoring or coaching to improve his skills and develop himself and his ability, and, through his experiences, lay a stronger foundation for himself.
We have followed through with one another now for 15 years, and he’s not quite there but he certainly has gotten a heck of a lot closer than where he was when I met him 15 years ago.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2020
ABOUT JEFF ALTMAN, THE BIG GAME HUNTER
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.
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