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What Job Seekers Can Learn From Farrah

June 29, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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Farrah Fawcett held a special place in my family’s hearts back in the mid-70’s – I attempted to have her famous hairstyle on my head, and my brother Scott had her famous poster on his wall. Although it was clearly for different reasons, I’m not sure which one of us loved Farrah more. I think we were both equally ardent. Time passed, and we grew up and out of Farrah, replacing her hairstyle and poster with more “grown-up” versions. I didn’t really give Farrah’s life and career much thought through the years, until recently when I heard that she was battling anal cancer, and that she had filmed a documentary, “Farrah’s Story.” I happened to be home on the Friday night that her film aired, so I poured a glass of wine and curled up to watch it.

What followed was two hours of painful, brutally honest, completely transparent coverage of Farrah’s courageous stand against cancer. Whether a former Farrah fan or not, I can’t imagine anyone watching her dignified and determined approach to this life threatening/ending disease without coming away with a newfound or continued respect for this woman. Personally, I was quite moved by her decision to share the most intimate details of her battle with what turned out to be 8.9 million strangers, especially when she defiantly removed her hat to reveal that all that remained of her beautiful, iconic, emulated mane was a few wisps of bangs.

Throughout the program, I found myself wondering, “Why would a former pin-up – arguably one of the most beautiful women ever – decide to end her glamorous private life in such an unglamorous public fashion? Of course, the obvious answers to that question are easy to conclude. Farrah wanted to share her journey to educate others about the importance of regular screenings, and to increase awareness of anal cancer, specifically, to generate interest and hopefully, research dollars.

But it wasn’t until the very end of the story that Farrah’s real motivation for filming what, in essence, became her personal death documentary, became clear. For right before the credits rolled, Farrah aimed a camera at the audience. “How are you? What are you fighting for?” she asked.

I hear from scores of Healthcare IT job seekers every day, and I know what many of you are fighting for is a new opportunity. And while it may not be as dramatic or life-threatening as Farrah’s (and so many others’) situation, if you are currently in transition (aka unemployed) it can seem like life as you know it is over. For many, these are desperate times. Just a year ago, the subject line for a candidate’s email with a resume attached usually read something like, “Exceptional Healthcare IT Professional Seeks Exciting New Challenge.” I received one late last night that simply read, “Please Help Me.”

So, what can Healthcare IT (or any industry’s) job seekers learn from Farrah?

1. Don’t Give Up
Ever. Even if it’s looking bleak, there’s always a Plan B. And C. And D. The key is to continually try new avenues to uncover possible opportunities. LinkedIn, Twitter, Job Boards, Job Fairs, Conferences, Volunteer Work, etc. Cover them all.

2. Don’t Be Afraid To Seek Professional Help
There is nothing unprofessional about asking for help, and you will not be considered a failure if you let people know you could use a little. Do not be afraid to seek the professional services of those in a position to help you, whether it’s a life coach, a professional resume writer, or a personal trainer. That’s why they are there!

3. Surround Yourself With Positive People
You know that friend of yours who gasped in horror when you shared the news about your job situation? The one who asked you, “Do you think you’ll be facing foreclosure, and your wife will leave you, and you’ll be forced to flip burgers at Dairy Queen?” You know the one – ditch him! Or her. Or anyone else who isn’t able to be supportive and upbeat and positive about your outcome. Maybe not forever, but definitely for now. (Although forever may save you grief in the long run).

Before watching her documentary, I, like so many others, would have remembered Farrah simply for her hair, Charlie’s Angels, and the poster on my brother’s wall. But now there’s more, for I will also remember her for her courage in the face of incredible adversity. So, how about you? What are you fighting for?

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