Job hunting is the worst.
Rejection after rejection after rejection has become the norm for even the most talented of professionals.
Having your entire career scrutinized by people that don’t know you, don’t care about you, and are probably driven by their many subconscious biases regarding “people like you” isn’t fun.
As a job seeker, it’s hard to keep your chin up when you feel like putting your best foot forward simply results in being knocked to your knees – over and over and over.
Some professionals become job seekers by choice, ready to tackle new career challenges. Others may find themselves in the job hunt by no choice of their own – corporate layoffs, offshoring/outsourcing, etc. – and may not have been prepared emotionally or financially for the grueling process of finding a new job in today’s very competitive market. Either way, job seekers are constantly tasked with balancing two very real drives – “I want to eat” vs. “I want to find my dream job” – while managing the gamete of negative emotions that so often accompany the job hunt.
Not exactly warm and fuzzy feelings.
And what about those cumbersome, glitchey, pain-in-the-ass online job applications that require you to insert ALL your work related information line by line, even though the resume was “attached”?
Somebody help me!
And what about filling out two, three, four hundred of those mind-boggling applications only to receive zero-response from the hiring agency?
We’ve all been there, and most of us would rather not go back. So whether you’re a new grad searching for your first “real” job, or a bootstrapped entrepreneur needing a “milk money” position while your company takes flight, this post is for you – may my painful job hunting experience be a salve to your unemployed wounds.
Here are three ways to beat the job hunt blues:
Realize rejection isn’t personal.
Ofer Sharone, Assistant Professor of Work and Employment Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management, conducted a revealing study on job seekers. In American society, white collar professionals tend to take rejection on the job hunt as personal rejection (example: “There’s something wrong with me and that’s why I didn’t get the job”), while Israeli job seekers were more likely to interpret rejection on the job hunt as “there’s something wrong with the system.”
There are so many factors influencing who gets what job, and very few have to do with whether or not the applicant is “qualified” enough – discrimination, tenure, networks, budget, etc. Some openings are simply suspended unfilled. Other times, the computing system utilized to screen the applicants (such as with federal positions) may have eliminated your application before it ever say human eyes. Job rejection isn’t (always) personal. Accepting that it’s not all about you – it’s about the economy (read Arianna Huffington’s Third World America for more info) – can be an extremely helpful revelation (or mantra) for today’s discouraged job seeker.
Take care of both your body and mind.
Job hunting is really stressful experience that can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Experiencing stress during a job transition is understandable – dwindling finances, pressure from peers to land a job, and mounting self-doubt about the chances of future employment are enough to make even the strongest of professionals break.
Make it a priority to take care of yourself during all phases on the job search. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, download a few meditation apps, and catch up on some inspirational reading. Book all those doctor appointments you’ve been putting off, join a jogging group, and call the local rec center about yoga classes. Even though you’re not clocking the ol’ “9-to-5” sticking to a schedule (even a fitness on) can be a great way to help alleviate overwhelming emotions and manage stress commonly associated with the job hunt.
Want a few more health-conscious tips specific to today’s job seekers? Check out Forbes’ Staying Healthy And Fit When Your Job Is Going Or Gone.
Connect with others.
You’re not alone in the job hunt. We’ve all been there. One of the worst feelings a job seeker can experience is the nagging sensation that “everyone else has a good job except for me”. That disempowering belief is simply not true.
Connecting with others during your job hunt will serve two instrumental purposes: 1) It’ll help keep your spirits high and remind you that you’re not alone in this career challenge, and 2) Networking with others can help you land that dream job. By leveraging professional networking groups or associations, such as the Levo League, your alumni association, or an industry relevant LinkedIn group, can be a great way to establish relationships that can get you hired.
If connecting with professional organizations isn’t exactly your thing, consider volunteering with area nonprofits that’s missions are in line with your interest. Maybe commit to just a few hours a week and reap the benefits of not thinking “job hunt” 24/7. Build your resume, expand your network, and give back – it’s a win-win for everybody.