In a time of your life when you are seeking new work it can be annoying to hear, “Hey, have you tried meditation?”

Usually the answer is no. Or “I tried it’s not for me.”

 

I have been working with people who are in an active job search for nearly a decade. In my first years as a coach, I put a lot of faith in resumes and interview scripts. When I found that lacking and still saw people struggle in job search, I thought the secret must be in stories. So, I developed the Career Stories Method. But still, people who are in an active job search, even when they have a strong network, an interesting resume, fantastic presence, and clear goals suffer. They say things like,

“How do I get over rejection?”

“I’m losing hope. I know that I’m not a loser, but I don’t know if anyone else sees that.”

“I can’t be happy until I land a job.”

“I need this to end soon. If I just knew when it would end, I could relax.”

You don’t need to suffer in your job search

I know everything above is a real feeling for people. At the same time choosing to see the limbo between now and landing a new job as torture is a chosen perspective. Job searching can be a ripe time to learn about yourself, and this learning can make you a better job seeker. I recommend that everyone start a mindfulness practice when they are in an active job search. I don’t recommend it as another thing for your bloated to-do list, I recommend it because of what it gives you in return.

Meditation builds three main skills that help a job seeker

There are spiritual and emotional benefits to mindfulness practice, I’m not digging into those even though I personally benefit from those. Even from a completely non-spiritual place meditation will help you build three skills that not only help your job search but your entire career. Shinzen Young writes about the science of this in his book, The Science of Enlightenment.

The three mains skills are concentration, sensory clarity, and equanimity.

1. Concentration is the skill of being able to concentrate on what you want to focus on when you want to focus on it.

How this skill helps a job seeker:

Having strong concentration skills means you can focus on the task you need to be doing. That means not being distracted when you write a resume, not getting drawn into a LinkedIn content hole, and being able to give full attention to the details of a job. Concentration comes in incredibly handy at networking meetings or interviews because you can stay present and focused on what is actually happening.

Distraction and low concentration are common in job seekers who spend all day scrolling through job ads, reading free job search articles online, and waiting for phone calls. It’s common for job seekers to fill a day with activity, but the activity means nothing. It’s like they are busy running, but the running has no meaning or benefit. Concentration helps you to hone in on the search activities that actually position you for ideal work.

 

2. Sensory Clarity is the ability to know what is happening with your emotions and physical sensations.

How this skill helps a job seeker:

Sensory clarity is incredibly powerful as a job seeker. The number one way people self-sabotage themselves in their job search is by playing old stories in their heads. They allow patterned emotional reactions and old recordings of “I can’t do that. I’m not the kind of person who does that” to stop them from growing. Developing sensory clarity tunes you into your mind and body. So, when your mind starts to circle or get stuck on one thing, “I can’t believe they said I didn’t have enough leadership experience” you can recognize the spiral before you get lost in it. Sensory clarity allows you to start to untangle from old thought and emotional patterns (and where you hold it in the body) and see through it for what it is — a thought or emotion.

It’s not that meditation ever makes you feel numb or emotionless, it simply allows you to not get as impacted by them as you did before.

I was working with a client who was a young VP and wanted to work for a larger organization. She wasn’t in a rush to land a job, she was giving herself a year. We worked on her resume and interview answers and she got a few interviews, but she kept not landing the job. Every time we spoke I kept encouraging her to share her innovative ideas more broadly, not just on her resume. She kept saying, “I know, I know”, but not changing anything. One day after she was rejected for a job, I asked her what stopped her from sharing her innovative side more proactively. It took her some time to get to the answer and then she said, “I know it’s what I need to do, but a part of me thinks I’ll be discovered. I’ve always been discovered by someone without having to do much, so I keep waiting for that to happen.” In all her previous jobs, people had noticed and seen something in her that she didn’t see herself.

When she realized what her self-sabotaging thought was  “I don’t need to take action because I will be discovered” she was able to face it.  See-through it. And then have a new perspective of “I don’t wait for people to see my awesome, I show them.” She started writing articles on LinkedIn and started a podcast with her friend.

3. Equanimity is being okay with what is right now, not being pulled to reminiscing about the past, or pushed into planning the future.

How this skill helps a job seeker:

In an unbalanced job search, the job seeker is spending most of their time regretting past career moves or mistakes or wishing they had what they lost. And the rest of the time thinking they will be happy once they land the job. An unbalanced job seeker actually rarely feels any job when they land the job because they are exhausted and unbalanced. They quickly see that while a new job may bring them income and security, it does not bring them happiness, balance, or an ability to appreciate what they have now. Often they are temporarily happy in a role for six months before they start planning out their next move.

Meditation helps you to be okay with what is right now. They also allow you to see through painful sensations or thoughts, making them have less hold on you. You learn in meditation to let them be there in the background, but they don’t need to rock you. You can have equanimity with where you are in life, and with physical and emotional feelings. You can let thoughts and feelings come and go. This is a powerful skill to have on a daily basis. Instead of “I can’t wait for this to be over” or “my life used to be awesome” you move into “Not everything is perfect right now, but that’s okay.”

This equanimity is tangible for others. It decreases the chances of you giving off a desperation vibe and instead you look like a balanced person who is ready to start an incredible new job.

What kind of meditation should a job seeker start with?

There is a technique called SEE HEAR FEEL that is a great technique to start with. While a lot of meditation techniques start with breath control, this one uses your existing physical and mental space as the object of meditation. I lead a short introduction to it in the video above (I’m an L2 Certified Mindfulness Coach) or try the training through Unified Mindfulness.