Sometimes the search for a new pharmacy job, especially if you are currently unemployed, can be frustrating. That’s what I’m hearing from the many pharmacists who have written me recently from around the country as they engage in this process of hunting for work. I always respond to such letters, and hope that in doing so I’ve been able to offer some useful advice and valuable encouragement.
Here are a few quotes from those emails (names changed) I have received:
Steve from Washington: “I have been unemployed a little over 3 months…now I am like homeless broke. I moved in with my mother. I can’t even get a regular office job with my work history. I think some money is better than no money.”
Jane from Illinois: “I know it’s only been a little over a month, but I am feeling somewhat discouraged. I live in Illinois where I feel there is an over saturation of pharmacists considering there are 6 schools and only one big metropolitan city. Anyways, I’m trying to stay positive and take it day by day.”
Stephanie from North Carolina “I have talked to a temp agency and explained to her my situation and that I was at this point just looking for any kind of office work, especially in a doctor’s office until something did materialize for me on the pharmacy side. I have even applied to just other retail places working as a sales associate or possibly management. If I have to get 2 or 3 low paying jobs that’s fine because honestly, I think I need a break from the pharmacy retail world. I am starting to get an online Master’s Degree in Health Informatics.”
And these are just a few of the pharmacists that have reached out and spoken up. The background rhythm that beats in all these letters is one of frustration, despondency and even despair. How can one overcome the temptation to give up or the sense of demoralizing pain of searching without finding any leads or even a glimmer of hope? This is a subject that is both relevant and important. I’ve been through a long job search myself. I know the pain, and always try to offer some bits of advice which I hope is helpful.
Here are a few of the things I have learned and would share with my fellow pharmacists who are facing this very real situation in their own lives.
1) Stop blaming yourself and others. There is absolutely no good accomplished by dwelling on blame. All this does is focus your energy on the problem, rather than on the solution. Your situation is what it is. How you respond to it is what matters. And this means, first of all, choosing not to dwell on what will lead to discouragement and defeat.
Steven Covey, the famous author of the 7-Habits of Highly Effective People, once put it this way. He said “Look at the word responsibility – ‘response – ability” the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility.”
You too can choose to focus on far more positive possibilities: your new job you will enjoy, the new set of co-workers you will get to know, and the financial freedom it will ultimately bring.
2) Take action. While having the right frame of mind is a good beginning, thinking without action accomplishes nothing. But the problem is that the fear of being jobless often paralyzes us into doing nothing. The brain goes numb from all the worries being injected into our thoughts. We stand still.
The types of action that can be taken are numerous. There is reaching out to your own circle of contacts and keeping them apprised of your situation (always in a friendly, upbeat way). There is networking online on career sites like LinkedIn. Make lists of potential employers and apply for jobs – even if such jobs aren’t posted. Send a handwritten letter to the HR department telling them how you would love to work for their company someday.
And of course, reaching out and partnering with a great pharmacy staffing company like Pharmaceutical Strategies is a great way to begin.
Dale Carnegie put it this way: “Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
3) Take breaks. In the midst of taking action, don’t forget to take breaks as well. I usually tell pharmacists to think of looking for a job AS a job. Put in your 8-9 hours a day, but then stop. Take walks. Exercise. Spend time with family. Those in your circle should know that you are putting in 40-hours per week on your search, but also that you are able to “punch out” at the end of a day and relax.
4) Read what motivates you. Reading motivating literature and articles should be factored in to your work day. A car doesn’t run without fuel, and we humans cannot keep running without sufficient infusions of motivational material. The local library, especially if you can take your laptop there, can be an excellent “office” for you while doing your search. Avail yourself of some inspiring books and even take notes about how you can put the advice of these experts into practice.
5) Never give up. I know it sounds cliché. But I share this as one who has been there and knows how challenging and frustrating it can be. Don’t give up. Stay the course. Keep your eye on the finish line. As Lance Armstrong once put it “Pain is temporary. Quitting lasts forever.”
These are the sorts of things I share with the pharmacists who reach out to me. Almost always I get a very gracious email back from these pharmacists who appreciate the advice and have taken new steps to improve their search process. And many times it pays off, leading to a new job and a new chance to put their life back on track. I hope that is the case for you as well.