The Tap Dancing Monkey (When You’re Trying Too Hard)

photo – morguefile

Perhaps you know the feeling – you have targeted an employer you really want to work for and are trying to get in the door.  You’ve set up informational interviews, sent in formal applications, tailored and re-tailored resumes, attended networking events, spent time volunteering – you have tried it all and it is just not working. You know this is the right employer to work for.  If they would only see the contributions you could make, they would hire you.  It can be frustrating, draining and disheartening to not get the response you want. I call this doing the Tap Dancing Monkey.  I’ve done it.  Dressed up in my finest, put on my best show, and danced until I was plain exhausted – to no avail.  It’s natural to set our sights on what seems like the perfect fit and put our hearts, minds and energy into it 110%.  But how do we know when it is time to move on? Here are some tips for evaluating whether to continue dancing or take a break:

  • Check in with how you are feeling.  Are you feeling angry or resentful?  Worn out or hopeless?  These are very real indicators that it is time to pause and regroup.  It is challenging to put on a positive face to an employer if your underlying feelings are not in alignment with your words and actions.  If you are feeling upset, consider giving yourself a break from trying so hard, and come back to it at a later date.
  • Diversify.  What is it about this employer that is so appealing?  Culture? Industry? Mission?  Are there other employers that would fit?  Perhaps widening your scope would increase your chances of landing in a place that would be very fulfilling?  If you stayed dancing on with this one employer, you could miss it!
  • Get some perspective. Talk to a friend, colleague, or career coach/counselor.  You can review your actions to see if there is anything you haven’t yet done or brainstorm fresh strategies and options.
  • It’s not never, just not now.  Often people feel like if it is not working at this time, it will never work.  All of your energy is going into planting seeds. We just don’t know when they might sprout!  Just because you don’t see the semblance of a plant now, doesn’t mean it won’t grow in the future.  Give your search some space to have its own process.

If you reach a point where you can’t know why opportunities at target organizations aren’t materializing (despite your efforts), take a pause to take care of yourself. This article on getting unstuck by Anne Bryant may be of help.   This is not giving up!  Think of it as giving yourself a much-needed break and acknowledgment for all your hard work.

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