In the most recent issue of Marvel Comics', The Amazing Spiderman, Spiderman's alter ego, Peter Parker loses his job as a newspaper photographer. He doesn't just struggle to keep a roof over his head and pay his bills; he also has to manage Spiderman's expenses including "web fluid" and the costs of maintaining his superhero wardrobe to keep his identity under wraps. Sure, he's just a comic book character, but what Spiderman is facing is not that different than what millions of Americans are facing today: dealing with a job loss, but still feeling like they have to continue to be a superhero.
Many people who lose their jobs are too proud to ask for help. They know that others are depending on them and they don't want to let them down. Often they have a stoic attitude - "I've got this covered" and "I don't like asking for favors" are phrases I hear often from proud job seekers. But job search should not be an isolating process. Reaching out to others who can share information and connect you with potential decision makers is key to a successful search. Take down the superhero facade and let people in. Here are some suggestions for getting started.
Join a job search group. This is a great way to share job leads, stay motivated, feel connected, and learn what search strategies are working for others. There are numerous job search groups based on job function, professional level, and geography.
Accept help from family and friends. If a friend or family member wants to take you out to dinner, offer you some money, or buy you a week's worth of groceries, don't immediately turn down their offer because of pride. Chances are, you would probably do the same thing for a friend or family member in need. Being gracious and accepting helps solidify relationships and keeps you top of mind with the people who want to help you.
Ask for informational interviews. Informational interviews are not about asking people for a favor or a job. You are reaching out to that person to learn more about them, the type of work they do, or their company. Asking for information and suggesting they are the expert in their field is flattering; most people are more than willing to share information as long as there is no expectation that they will find you a job. And many will be willing to share valuable contacts with you who can get you one step closer to actually landing your next position.
Work with a job search coach. Working with a job search coach can give you a new perspective on your search and a coach can bring a certain objectivity to the process that can't be achieved when you are working alone. If money is tight, many coaches offer alternatives to one-on-one coaching including job clubs and workshops. Also, check out the resources at your local library. Many have free resume writing help and free job coaching services.
Take advantage of your unemployment resources. The Department of Labor sponsors career education and training programs through their Career One Stop portal. You can also learn about government grants to help finance a job retraining program or a return to school.
No one should buy into the superhero mentality when they are in a job search. We are all superheros in our own right to someone in our lives. It's ok to let others do some of the saving now and then.