Banging your head against a brick wall and hoping to punch-through by sheer will-power is not recommended. However, persistence in pursuing your job search and career management plans can pay off, and the alternative–giving up–doesn’t offer anything that’s really worth having. As The Executive Blog puts it, “Believing in yourself is one way of improving yourself, mastering your craft, and engaging others to try out what you have to offer them. By all means, don’t be blinded by hopelessness. Giving up on what you tend to do best isn’t as easy as you may think. Rather, it will just make you miserable. So, why do it in the first place?”
Persistent Job Search versus Pig-Headed Stubbornness
Let’s begin by defining what persistence means in your job search or ongoing career management plan. Interestingly enough, a primary definition of persistence is “firm or obstinate continuance in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition.” Now, obstinacy is a quality I associate more with pig-headed stubbornness, and I really don’t recommend adopting it as a model. Firm continuance, on the other hand, makes a lot of sense to me. If you hope to achieve your short- or long-term career goals, persistent effort ranks high on the list of factors that can produce the desired result.
What’s the important distinction here? Obstinacy wears blinders. It doesn’t allow you to acknowledge that anything you want or intend to do might not be the best course of action. It doesn’t open you to receiving advice or recommendations from others that could prove valuable to your efforts. (Mind you, it’s not mandatory that you accept all or any of the advice you receive–just that you consider it before you reject it.) People who believe they already know it all…probably don’t!
When to Persist and When to Move On
Remember the hit Kenny Rogers song, “The Gambler”? “You got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em, Know when to walk away, know when to run.” Sometimes, you unfortunately do need to close the door on something you have been pursuing and refocus your attention and energy on something else. In a recent post, I mentioned the buggy whip analogy. One possible example in today’s world is the print newspaper industry. Years ago, type was set by hand. Then presses took over. Eventually technology totally transformed the industry. Now online resources are threatening the existence of long-established and once very successful print organizations, some of whom have already vanished. According to one online site, “The news organizations that survive will move to a ‘digital first’ strategy with all deliberate speed.” (Source: “Fewer Daily Newspapers Deliver Daily” by Paul Gillin, January 12, 2012)
If your profession or industry is a seriously endangered species, you might need to look at a completely new career direction that will allow you to use at least some of the skills and talents you possess. On the other hand, if you can identify a way to spin off from your current career into one that more or less directly builds on what you have been doing, give it your best shot and see where it takes you. Just don’t negative-talk yourself into giving up too soon. In that situation, persistence (but not blind obstinacy) stands a decent chance of paying off for you.