gorilla in living room

The Gorilla in the Room: Your Nagging Need for Employment


“Success is a little like wrestling a gorilla. You don’t quit when you’re tired. You quit when the gorilla is tired.” – Robert Strauss

You’ve been searching for a job for a while. And now it’s Monday and time to get back to it in earnest. Frankly, you don’t want to. You are tired this morning, and tired of the search. You’ve been at it for weeks now — maybe even months, or longer. Sometimes it seems as if all your efforts will never pay off.

But is your “gorilla” tired of it?

stressed woman

The gorilla is, of course, your nagging need for employment. Every day of the week he is there, reminding you he needs attention. On days like today he feels like a truly formidable opponent. On such days, it is good to back off, take a new look, and try to see the big guy for the irritation — not obstacle — that he is. Maybe even remind yourself that he is an opportunity for you to change your life for the better!

And face it: he will not go away without your focused efforts to defeat him. You have no choice but to keep trying all your moves until he’s down for the count because you have exhausted him and landed a job!

What to do, to get this guy on the run?

Wear Him Down

man wearing boxing gloves

It is all about steadily, gradually and consistently wearing him down. How do you do this? Strategize and execute. One step at a time, one day at a time, prove to him (and yourself) that you are bigger, stronger, smarter and more adept than he is.

Create clever, efficient moves to take you closer to your goal of landing your next job so that you hardly notice the big guy anymore and wonder how you ever thought he was so huge. Here are some ideas:

Reach Out. Network. Get out of your isolation. Meet others, talk with them, tell them about yourself and find out about them. Stay busy and moving forward this way; Mr. Gorilla’s presence won’t upset you anymore.

Admit to others that you are in transition. Ask for suggestions for your job search. Spend much of your time gathering and planning around the information you receive; you’ll be occupied and happy, and won’t notice the big, furry guy as much.

Market Yourself. Have your elevator speech honed to deliver your message quickly and clearly. Send out personable, customized cover letters and resumes, preferably to people you know at companies you prefer. The research alone, to find real people at real companies, will keep you from focusing on Mr. Gorilla as a threat, and help you to see him more as an opportunity.

Conduct Person-to-Person Research. Request informational interviews to learn more about the market in your area of expertise. With real people to talk with and valuable information to process, and the inspiration that will result, you’ll gradually be leaving “G” in the dust.

Show Confidence. Project the image that you are not afraid of Mr. Gorilla and, in fact, have better things to do than worry about him. Your positive energy will be contagious, will attract others (some with job openings,) and will make Mr. Gorilla less interested in antagonizing you, too.

Volunteer. Make yourself useful to others so that have a renewed sense of purpose and come to remember you are eminently employable and have much to offer. Mr. Gorilla might still be there with you, but you now know you can handle him. You start to see a job in your future.

Serve as a Consultant. When meeting others, find out enough about their situation that you can make helpful, professional suggestions to them. Provide some free consulting to some people. Let them get to know you this way. One thing can lead to another, and away from that nagging reminder that you need to find a job.

The Victory is Yours

victorious woman

Little by little you will have worn down Mr. Gorilla to the point that he is out of fight and no longer much of an issue for you. You will have made new contacts, talked with many people, learned about the market, built your confidence, made your contributions, received referrals, and started hearing about jobs that are not publicized, through person-to-person contacts.

If you do all these things and more, one day soon you will look around your home office. The exhausted gorilla will have left the room.

You will have found the job you’ve been hoping for. Congratulations in advance!

More Ways for You to Defeat the Gorilla

Our article Common Job Search Mistakes and How to Avoid Them is chock full of advice for conducting a more successful job search!