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Can Your Work and Personal Lives Be Separate?

Dear J.T. & Dale: I’d like to take your advice and do more networking, but I don’t have much to work with. I haven’t kept up with former co-workers, and among my friends and family, no one knows anything about my work or that I’m now unemployed. I believe in keeping my work and personal lives separate. — Rick

J.T.: I need to be blunt, Rick: Work and personal lives are NOT separate. They are interdependent, even if you try to compartmentalize them. For instance, when we are unhappy at work, it affects our personal life. And being unemployed certainly affects your personal life, right?

Dale: Well, there’s much more of it, for one thing. Here’s a quote from Richard Bolles in the classic book ‘What Color is Your Parachute?’:

‘It takes about eighty pairs of eyes, and ears, to help find the career, the workplace, the job that you are looking for. Your contacts are those eighty eyes and ears.’

When your co-workers become ‘former co-workers,’ they move into a place somewhere between work and personal, putting them in a position to be your most valuable eyes on the job market. So, make the attempt to reconnect. LinkedIn and Facebook can help, as can good old Calling Around. Searching for one old co-worker is a good excuse to call all your former co-workers. But you don’t really need an excuse. In this economy, people will not resent your contacting them out of the blue — you are also another contact for them, and anyone with any sense is collecting all they can.

J.T.: As for your friends and family, I think it would be in your best interests to share with them what is going on. Not only could they add their eyes and ears to your search, but they could offer support that will keep your spirits up. Here, too, the line between your work and personal lives blurs: Stress can lead to a poor job search, and an inability to talk comfortably about your situation and what you’re looking for can lead to failed interviews.

Dale: Said another way: If you keep your job problems to yourself, you’ll have more of them; and if you keep your unemployment a secret, you’ll have more of it, too.


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Filed under:Career, Coaching, Jobs

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