Today’s headlines: The market is down. The unemployment crisis continues. Young people are losing hope in their ability to make a contribution to the economy. Another company has announced layoffs.
Faced with the torrents of bad news and negative headlines, it can be easy to lose sight of your own objectives, and to give up hope of finding a new job or changing careers. After all, what’s the point of searching for a new job when unemployment is above 8 percent? And why not put off thoughts of grad school until thing have settled down a little?
Here’s why: because while those headlines certainly represent a form of truth about what’s going on in the wider economy, they don’t tell the whole story. (You may also have noticed that they’re all pretty vague—that’s because we’ve been seeing variations of them for, well, as long as there’s been a news industry. Bad news sells, but somehow we’re all still here.)
While it’s undoubtedly more difficult to find a new position at this point in history than it has been in most of our lifetimes, the economy hasn’t ground to a stop. Millions of positions have been filled since the onset of the recession, and thousands of people have taken the grad school plunge and significantly improved their prospects of furthering their careers.
Because here’s the truth you won’t find in headlines or negative articles: while the macro issues at play right now may be cause for concern, they haven’t shut down the economy or your ability to participate and influence it in your favor.
There’s an old joke about the difference between recessions and depressions: the former is when loses his job, while the latter is when you lose yours.
The point, obviously, is that the usage of such terms is relative to the experience of the person using them. And the good news is that the relativity runs both ways: regardless of what happens in the rest of the economy, you can always pull off a one-person recovery.
All it takes is the willingness to keep focusing on your own priorities, and to manage the parts of the process you can control. From a job-seeker’s perspective, that’s a lot—everything from seeking out new networking opportunities to making sure your application documents are perfect to keeping up to date on the latest developments in your field.
By all means, keep up with the news. Just remember that the best headlines are the ones you’ll write for yourself.