JOB SEARCH TECHNIQUES - TRANSITIONS

Rapid change is here to stay. Half of the jobs that will exist in 10 years haven't even been created yet. Workers will be required to adapt quickly to workplace demands and to develop their abilities in problem-solving, creative thinking, negotiation, teamwork, and organizational leadership.

What you learn about dealing with change and transition today, will help you for the rest of your life.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross describes the stages that are associated with any significant change. The time spent in each stage varies with the individual:

1. Immobilization - You feel overwhelmed. You are unable to understand what is happening or to make plans. It is hard to engage the logical, analytical part of your brain. You may think you have Alzheimers.

2. Denial - Minimization of impact. Not accepting that real change exists. False hope.

3. Depression & Anger - Frustration. Sense of loss. Realization that things will not be the same. Don't yet know how to cope. Depression is life threatening. When anger clicks in you have the energy to go on.

4. Letting Go - Accepting the reality that old ways are no longer functional, can no longer be.

5. Testing - Beginning to try out some new ways.

6. Search for Meaning - Trying to understand what the previous phases have meant. Trying to merge the past into the present...and possibly the future.

7. Internalization - Incorporating a new sense of reality into one's behavior. Acceptance of a new reality.

Develop a support team for yourself. Who has shared your feelings and concerns in the past? Who has confronted you when needed and helped you to get on with things? Rely on these people now. Do not isolate yourself. Express your feelings. Part of unexpressed grief is what keeps your spirits from lifting. Use the support of friends, family, religion, therapy, etc. Write down the names of the people and support systems that you will rely on in this time of transition. Transition is like being in the dark without a flashlight. Find someone's hand to hold.

In big change, normal coping mechanisms are not operating. You may cry when you don't normally, etc.

In the midst of major change it is not a good time to change anything you don't have to.

Learn as much as you can about the change. Communicate. Ask questions. What are the new boundaries and expectations. Who gives the final answer. What is the new mission. What are the priorities.

See yourself as an agent of change. You can suffer and struggle and fight inevitable change and lose much of your effectiveness. Or you can become pro-active and contribute ideas and energy to the change. You can become part of it and become involved in shaping it. This way you'll be a lot happier with the results. If the change is not something that you want to participate in at all, then you can choose where you want to be and become involved there. Don't be a victim, be a survivor.

Sometimes it helps to write a letter with your message. Decide later whether to mail it or not. Just writing down your thoughts and feelings is good for you. One study headed up by Stefanie Spera, Ph.D., of the consulting firm of Drake Beam Morin, Inc. found that those who wrote about the trauma of losing a job were four times more likely to be employed in eight months than those who didn't. The difference concluded by the researchers was that the writers who had dealt with their pain generally held a more positive attitude. And that, apparently, translated into a better chance at getting a new job.

Put in place all of the coping mechanisms that you have. Whatever works for you. That may be quiet time to yourself, music, exercise, a hot bath, fun, a movie, organizing and restoring order to something, weeding, etc.

Don't say O.K. when you don't mean O.K. Say, "O.K., but..."

Any change, good or bad, entails some loss. The losses can be attachments with people, places, responsibilities, schedules and the everyday life patterns that you've become accustomed to, hopes, and plans. You can feel a loss in terms of what the significance is of the time you've invested in what you just lost. You can feel a loss of control if you didn't want the change or have any control over it. You have lost something that became a part of you and it's normal to feel lost. We lose something in any change, even in positive changes, but we also gain something. You gave up babyhood to become a child. You gave up elementary school to become a high school student. Some of you gave up some things to become a parent or a friend or a partner to someone else. You gave up some interests to focus on those that you value more. It's important to begin to see what you could gain now because of what you're giving up. It's very difficult to see this at first. But you've probably all had the experience of a change that was devastating at the time, but later when you have perspective, you can look back and you realize that it was the best thing that ever happened to you.

Perspective is important. How horrible is this really? What do you have after the change that you are so grateful for having.

Remember that you have been successful in managing change in the past. Think about what you did and what worked well for you. You can do it now, because you have successfully done it before.

I have intended to give you some tools to help you find your own way to happy employment. I don't hold the final answer, you do. This is just some direction. "To point at the moon, a finger is needed, but woe to those who take the finger for the moon." ---Daisetz T. Suzuki