Reclaiming Your Central Vision

by: Joanne Meehl

A teacher friend who specializes in working with children with learning disabilities wrote to describe a recent seminar she'd attended. Her excitement was palpable: at the seminar, she learned that children under stress don't see the same way "normal" kids see; they tend to see off to the sides in a way that prepares them for "flight or fight". So they miss whatever is straight ahead of them, such as the printed page. And thus, their learning suffers. Educators who know about this new research can better help such students overcome this problem.

In many ways, I think, the job search does the same thing to adults. This is less of a phenomenon brought about by vision than by emotion. In other words, the stress of job hunting can cause people to not see what's right in front of them, and to be distracted by things off to the side.

So, for example, instead of "seeing" that networking would get them closer to 80% of the available openings, candidates spend almost all of their time replying to posted jobs, which represent only about 20% of available openings "because then I feel like I've done something", as one candidate recently told me. An activity that's small and concrete right now (answering ads) feels better right now than a more productive activity (networking) that's amorphous and longer-term. Sigh. And I scratch my head, mystified.

In our feelings-based, short-term oriented culture, it's today that matters. It's as if the job hunter says "I don't care that my brain knows that the job search is a marathon, my gut tells me to sprint because at least for a little while I'll feel like I'm getting somewhere". So they look off to the side.

I say, Try to look at how you spend your time during the search as Mr. Spock would: totally logically. Reclaim your ability to look front and center at what's really important here. In this aspect of the search, that reclaiming of your central vision is useful, very useful. Even vital, for your financial and emotional health. Go against the tide of feeling-good-for-now, look front and center, and you will land sooner. And oh, how good that will feel.


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