Category Archives: unemployment policy

Prayer and your job search

I happen to be a real big fan of prayer. Fortunately, I grew up learning to do it, maybe not even realizing what a phenomenal impact it had on my life. In spite of my belief in it, I have tried to objectively investigate over the years the effectiveness of prayer on the part of job seekers. Now, I don’t ask every candidate that I’ve ever interviewed if they pray. I’ve got enough of a challenge in trying to listen to them and help them find a job. But when you consider that I’ve interviewed more than 26,000 candidates since 1973 and been successful at placing more than 10,000 of them, you can imagine that I often get into some pretty serious conversations with candidates about some of the things they do to cope with the emotional anxiety of finding a job.

I’ve written before about the fact that looking for a job, next to death of a spouse, death of a child, death of a parent, coupled with divorce is one of the most emotionally challenging things we do. I’ve observed thousands of different ways that people cope with the emotional strain that is caused by the job search.

Maybe it’s because I look for it and am very sensitive to it, but I’ve come to the conclusion, after listening to so many people, that prayer has a significantly positive and uplifting impact on the emotional challenge of finding a job. I am absolutely convinced that it does.

What’s even more interesting is that I have been able to find that there is one certain manner of prayer that seems to be most effective. This will blow your mind, but based on what I’ve listened to from my candidates, it is a fact. There are some people that pray for outcomes. Actually pray that they find a job. But what seems to be most effective is to pray for acceptance of whatever happens in the job search process.

People who pray for outcomes that may not come about don’t get the interview or the job they prayed for, and can have a tendency to become disappointed that “God did not give them what they wanted.” This makes prayer a very difficult, quid pro quo with God. Then, when the outcome isn’t experienced, there’s bound to be disappointment, and maybe disappointment in God.

The people that seem to get the most out of prayer are those people who pray for acceptance of whatever happens. They pray something along the line of, “Dear Lord, grant me thy peace and thy mercy, thy will be done.” They pray to do their best in every job search endeavor. They pray for guidance and help in writing the best resume they can, they pray to get as many interviews as they possibly can and they pray, especially, to perform well on those interviews and pray to perform well for each interview to the next step. They don’t pray so much for a positive outcome of each event as much as they pray that they do the best they can in the process of finding a job and accepting the result for just what it is, whether they get the job or not. If they don’t get the job, they pray for more enlightenment or to learn from their mistakes or to do better the next chance they get.

St. Ignatious of Loyola prayed for what he called “holy indifference”. It is detachment… remaining indifferent to the results…accepting rejection…refusal…and being ignored…accepting being lied to…being forgotten…and all of the other things that wind up happening in a job search.

My wife, Chrissy, calls it ”holy acceptance”.  It is accepting what you may not like and can’t control …not getting what you want, but wanting what you get. It is the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” Or the prayer of St. Theresa: “May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be!”

One of my teachers, Jim Rhone, used to say, “Don’t pray that life will get easier, pray that you will get better.” This is a perfect prayer for a job search.

Well, I’m sure you get the point. Now, I’m not trying to go from teaching to preaching. I’m not trying to sell you that prayer in a job search or anything else like it is going to revolutionize your endeavor. But I am here to testify that I’ve seen prayer make a phenomenal difference in people’s job search.

… change the attitudes towards work in getting a job

Unfortunately, our country has developed a societal attitude that work is a right not a privilege… We all need to develop more of an immigrant attitude… I really don’t need to describe that in detail, because we all know what an immigrant attitude is… Secondly we need to communicate that it’s going to be very, very, very, very hard to find a job… It isn’t something you simply sign up for like you do with all the other entitlements… Along the same line ,people have to realize that they may have to take a pay cut and start out in a lower position than they had before in order to get their foot back in the door… We then need to prepare people for the emotional strain that looking for a job is… I’m always amazed that people don’t expect how psychologically difficult it’s going be to find a job… Engage in talking to someone who’s been out of work for more than a year and you can hear the tension in their voice and almost feel the depleted spirit… People need to be aware that the competition for a job is phenomenal… There are at least 8 to 10 very well-qualified candidates for every job and just because people think they are qualified doesn’t mean they are going to get hired or that the hiring authority thinks they are qualified …Looking for a job successfully is a sheer numbers thing… Most people don’t try hard enough to get enough interviews, which is the first mistake… Then, when they don’t get a job right away, they give up way too easily, quit way too soon and then claim they can’t find a job… They claim that there are just “no jobs out there” it takes an average of 16 interviews to get a job… it takes talking to 10 hiring authorities to get one interview… and it takes 100 calls to speak with one hiring authority… In short, it is very diligent, hard work with tons of rejection and refusal… And lastly in this list is to quit cursing the darkness… Complaining bitching and moaning about the way things are does absolutely no good…

…So what we do about all this

So, it’s really easy to criticize… Anybody can sit here and write/complain about entitlements, child care, peoples attitude, climate change, the war In the Middle East, etc… so here are my humble solutions to the problem: As with many government entitlements, they start out with good intentions and devolve to the downside of Gladwell’s inverted U… I’m a product of the 60’s and, at the time was a great believer in LBJ’s Great Society… like many liberals we all thought “helping the poor” is a necessary idea…but the consequences have been. disasterous.. I remember working in “projects” when I was a freshman in college at St. Louis University in 1965, thinking that it was so wonderful that the government was building 15 and 20 story “projects” for people who really couldn’t afford them… 10 years later they were tearing them down because they deteriorated beyond repair… and we are now in our second, and the third generation of people who expect the government programs to take care of them… The idea, for instance of unemployment insurance for people while they are looking for a job seems reasonable to most people, especially those who are gainfully employed… it appears to be the empathetic thing to do… the key is while someone is looking for a job… it turns out, as Gladwell would site, that unemployment insurance prolongs unemployment… the number of unemployed people who find jobs within 90 days after their unemployment expires is staggering… unemployment insurance becomes a hindrance rather than a help.. so the first thing we should do is decrease the amount and the time people receive unemployment… you would be shocked at the number of people who tell me that they don’t want to go on an interview because they can make more money on unemployment than working the job I present to them… not good.  Instead of “unemployment” benefits the government should give tax credits to companies for hiring people who have been out of work for more than six months or a year… get rid of the word “benefit ” and describe unemployment as the “tax” it is and make it clear to people who receive “unemployment insurance” they are really receiving “other people’s money”…A novel idea would be to “assign” one working person to sponsor another individual who is receiving unemployment insurance and make it mandatory that the recipient of the unemployment insurance report to their “sponsor” every week when they receive unemployment as to what they are doing to get a job… to make it even more personal we could assign a “sponsor” for this who paying into the system about the same amount that the recipient is receiving… as though the employed person is personally “sponsoring” the unemployed one and is demanding accountability More next week………….