Little Victories: Conquering Unemployment
By Tom Brophy
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2010, $32.00
Book review by Stephanie Legatos
Author provides pathways to gaining needed encouragement during a job search
Let me start by saying this book is extremely validating due to its focus on the emotions job seekers experience. In the first few pages, Brophy captures the deep isolation many people feel during the beginning stages of unemployment. In particular, he identifies a few aspects of these feelings:
First is the shock of being severed from colleagues and co-workers – who otherwise would constitute a critically needed support community. Second, he looks at the collective sense of drive and purpose that is removed. And last, he discusses the numbness many job seekers feel, but are unable to understand or explain.
Brophy’s central discussion point is that people who are unemployed are susceptible to feeling rejected. More specifically, the focus here is the rejection you feel being out of work and how the job-search process itself creates many more opportunities for rejection.
Brophy states that the #1 activity job seekers are told to do is to send out resumes. But the response rate to sent-out resumes is low. So especially if a job seeker uses this activity of sending out resumes as their primary or sole strategy for “looking,” the feelings of rejection may grow deeper.
That brings us to Brophy’s main message: “We need to learn how to create victories and not defeats. And we get a lot of mileage out of a small victory.”
In his work within the New Jersey Career & Employment Center system, he has advised job seekers to stop sending resumes. Most are not read by anyone anyway. Meanwhile, he makes the point that resumes generally don’t tell an employer a lot about you. However, to put things in context, this book was written in 2010. And so some things have changed, including how people prepare resumes.
Although I agree that “just applying to online postings” is not the way to go, resumes have come a long way. Soft skills (the focus of an article I wrote for the Summer 2020 PDC Messenger) ARE included in most resumes today, namely in the “Skill Summary” section. Meanwhile, social media now, of course, has an expansive role in the job-search process.
For example, the “About Me” section in one’s LinkedIn profile provides just that opportunity – to talk about who you are. You can discuss the person you are behind the work, and what engages you about your work and industry, and what motivates and drives you. This is one way to create a unique identity.
I give Brophy credit for his strong messaging on being selective about what you do. This is where research, and developing a list of 10 to 20 target companies, is critical. Additionally, he reinforces what most career- and employment-professionals say:
- Network – start calling who you DO know to identify the name of the decision-maker and ask for help in getting visibility.
- Research – use all available means to identify who will decide to hire you or not.
Brophy also does a good job giving interviewing tips:
- Give the interviewer new and important information.
- Be ready to explain what sets you apart AND how you are going to help an organization achieve its goals.
- Knowledge is power: know in-depth about the company, industry, job, competitors, interviewer, and the decision-maker.
- Make a personal connection with your interviewer re: interests, hobbies, volunteer work, alma mater.
Overall, I found the greatest value to this book to be the sample scripts Brophy offers for when you make networking calls. And his fresh perspective on networking also is very helpful, that being: “We think of networking as preferential treatment. Successful people are accustomed to it. And demand it.”
My biggest complaint about this book is that it is repetitious. Brophy will address a topic – successfully – and then unnecessarily revisit it.
Nonetheless, this book helped me think even more about how we can create “small victories” for ourselves every day. When you are in job transition, you can’t let your happiness, your sense of self-worth, rest on getting a job offer at any particular time. Instead, you can create small, encouraging victories for yourself each time you make a new networking connection, have a door opened to a possible interview by someone in your network, or compose a cover letter you feel succeeds in introducing a worthy candidate for a job – you!
Stephanie Legatos is a career coach providing services for career exploration and decision-making as well as the concrete aspects of a job search. She brings a holistic perspective to her work, and integrates mindfulness, journal writing, collage (a visual and writing process), and inner-critic transformational activities into her work. For the past 25 years Stephanie has worked with thousands of job seekers individually and through workshop and webinar presentations. She is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and qualified user of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). You can read more about her background and her services on the website for her company, Visible You.