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Job Hunting

Jobseekers: Are You Spinning Your Wheels?

Snow on a car in London.

Image via Wikipedia

This week Washington State got pummeled by a series of winter storms. Usually, because of the prevailing air flows at this time of year, we get either warm wet air or cool dry air. This time they both came in together—and the result was chaotic.

First we got some mild to moderate snow, as a warning for what was to come. The next wave was a seriously big one: 10 to 24 inches of snow in areas of the Puget Sound. Immediately after the snows stopped, the temperatures lowered. And it started to rain. The result was our area swam knee-deep in a mixture of snow, ice and slush.

On the day I finally returned to work, I watched some of the drivers trying to negotiate the slushy roads. I have been used to conditions like this growing up, and while it’s still white-knuckle driving, I know what to do when I get stuck.

I watched in helpless fascination as several drivers spun out of control in the wet and slippery mess outside our office. The reaction was almost universal: when the car started to lose traction, the driver’s reaction was to floor the accelerator, spinning them hopelessly out of control. Usually they ended up even more mired. So how do they respond? They keep spinning—further and further out of control.

Einstein’s definition of insanity came to mind: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

In times like that the first thing people do is start to panic. They are in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable situation, and worst of all, they are out of control. Rational thought seems to take too long to utilize. Yet it’s those times that rational thought is needed most.

When I grew up, I learned in Driver’s Ed that to get out of a mired situation is to slowly move the car forward until you feel the traction slip, then slowly back up. This “rocking” can firm up the slushy area enough to free you. Yet I’ve been in slippery spots enough to know that although it’s the most effective way, it also seems to require the most self-discipline to execute. It goes against natural inclination of “fight or flight.”

I wonder if some people take that same attitude toward their job search—they find themselves caught up in an out-of-control situation and their response might not necessarily be the most effective choice. The careful, systematic approach requires a little more self-discipline and patience. Yet in the end you save a lot of otherwise uselessly wasted energy and effort, and get “un-stuck” a lot quicker.


About kimberlyjmyers

I am a workforce development professional in Washington State. I have ten years experience working with dislocated workers, vocationally impaired, and people with disabilities on many levels and backgrounds from offenders to non-English speaking refugees from around the world. The One thing the clients I have worked with all had in common: there was some barrier to employment, and I work diligently every day to identify, address and remove those barriers.


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