Written by: Darren Sherrard, Associate Director, Healthcare Recruitment and Marketing Office (HRMO)

The job hunt is considered one of the most stressful times in a person’s life. Especially when unexpected, a job search can foster anxiety and frustration, but you can keep emotions in check and deal with them in a healthy manner if you’re equipped with the right tools.

We rarely discuss these difficult topics until the time arrives, leaving many unprepared to deal when they do happen, but I recommend preparing now rather than later. The below tips specifically speak to job searching, but they can be applied to other stressful situations as well.

1. Stay Alert, Stay Alive! This is a basic skill taught to warriors and scouts of all ages. Learn from others and be prepared for life’s little surprises. Here in Louisiana, we prepare for hurricanes every year. That means preparation and research to identify what will be needed and what we will need to know. We hope we will not need the plan, but we have one.

In the event of an unexpected job hunt, chances are you will lose income and need to have a plan to sustain yourself and your family. Experts suggest 6 months of pay saved up. That is not always a realistic option. At minimum, know what you can live with, save some money and know what resources are in your community if need arises.

2. Train as you fight! Stop everything right now and think: “If I were to get injured, or fired today, what would I do?” That thought may be scary for some, but hopefully it motivates you to take action now. Prepare your resume, develop your network on professional sites like LinkedIn, learn something new, add a credential to your skills, or even enroll in courses or a degree program to further your education. That way, when you need to “fight,” you are prepared and you win decisively.

3. Job seeking is a full-time job! I say this for two reasons. First, a job search often requires the same amount of time you would put in at a regular full-time job…yes, 40 hours! You will need to work around interviews, part-time jobs and training courses, but you should be dedicated to the success of your job search – just as you would in a full-time position.

Secondly, it’s useful to view your job search as a full-time job so that you don’t become too discouraged by the process. The same recommendation to maintain a work/life balance applies for a full-time job hunt. Put in the hours, but know when it’s time to “clock out.” This is a stressful time in your life and you need to recharge daily and weekly. You need to seek support, encouragement and even fun.

4. If you get mad, you lose! We all have a “go-to emotion.” What’s yours? Anger is an especially dangerous emotion. Every single time I have a discussion with a person, I lose if I let my temper flare. Anger brings aggression, fear, and the inability to see the other side of the argument. No matter the topic, the person who displays anger in an unhealthy manner loses every time. The focus deflects from the topic of discussion to our anger. People are always watching how we handle ourselves, and our actions today will be noticed and open or close future doors. This is a time to grow emotionally and learn just how strong we really are.

5. Remember, you are always job seeking. Whether you just started a new position or have been in one for many years, you should always be job seeking. If you interviewed for your job today, would you get it again? If unsure of the answer to that question, it is time to step up your game. The workplace is evolving rapidly. Industries are changing, technology is changing. Ask yourself: Will my job be relevant in 5 years? Do I possess the new certifications that those starting today do?

We must be lifelong learners and “always be job seeking.”

Stress can get the best of us in any number of difficult situations. Learning how to control that stress and harness your energy in a productive and positive way will lead to greater success.There are many tips and resources listed on VAcareers.va.gov to aid in advancing your career. I encourage everyone, employed or not, to search VA’s available positions and take action today!


darrenIn May 2008, Darren Sherrard was appointed as the Associate Director of Healthcare Recruitment and Marketing (HRM) at the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Workforce Management and Consulting office (WMC). As Associate Director, Mr. Sherrard oversees VHA’s national recruitment marketing campaigns inclusive of television commercials, print and online media, and recruitment marketing sites. He leads a diverse marketing team representing VA Careers’ website, social media sites, and VHA recruitment events. Mr. Sherrard coordinates strategies, campaigns and effective approaches to carry out HRM’s mission of “driving qualified candidates to VACareers.va.gov.” Prior to joining VHA, Darren was Chief Operating Officer of a healthcare staffing firm which he modernized from a small regional company into a thriving national corporation. Darren served 20 years in the U.S. Army; 13 of which were spent in recruiting. During that time, he was known for his ability to transform low performing organizations through training, motivation and ability to develop and provide needed recruitment tools. Darren is devoted to finding the best talent to provide the best care for our Nation’s Veterans.


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Published on May. 18, 2015

Estimated reading time is 4.7 min.

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