The title of this post is a bit misleading because there have been times that I have in fact lost it during the job search process. Instead of you having to learn the hard way too, it may help to hear what I learned from my mistakes.
About a year and a half ago, I was laid off. I instantly began searching for a new job, but after a couple months of nothing panning out, I decided to quit searching for a while. I was still in graduate school and searching for a new job is a full-time job in itself without pay and benefits. I decided to stick to temporary work to pay the bills in the meantime. Now, as a recent graduate, I have begun the job search again and I’ve realized it really is the worst!
Searching for a job is a process that can fill you with so much self-doubt, self-pity and endless frustration. The whole thing is so stressful with the never-ending resumes and cover letters, anxiety-inducing interviews, the jobs that send impersonalized stock rejection emails; or my personal favorite, the jobs that ghost you completely. Over the last couple of months, I have applied to close to 50 jobs and I have only heard back, good or bad news, from 20% of them. The uncertainty of the entire process can really take a toll on your mental health.
So, whether you have been laid off, quit your job or are just looking for a change and have been struggling to keep your focus during your job search, here are a few tips that I have learned to help make the process a little smoother.
As I mentioned before, the sheer amount of applications that you’ll submit to get one interview is obscene. I have an Excel spreadsheet where I keep all the information about the jobs I’ve applied to. It includes the date of application, company, job title, contact info if you have any, and dates of interviews and follow up messages. It helps to have all this information in one place and it can also help you identify trends or patterns.
Another suggestion is to take a screenshot of every job description for each application. It has happened to me a couple times where I get called in for an interview only to notice that the job description has disappeared from their website. It takes a lot of stress away from the process of preparing for that interview to have that job description at the ready.
Don’t take rejection personally
I know that this is easier said than done, but staying strong during this whole process means getting comfortable with hearing the word no. There are a number of reasons why you may not have been selected for a job, but it doesn’t help to dwell on them. Try and keep a positive perspective. If you feel comfortable doing so, ask for feedback from the person you interviewed with; what you learn could be invaluable for next time.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
You may have heard this before, but it bears reminding; network, network, network. Take any meetings you can get. Grab coffee with friends, acquaintances, former colleagues, friends of friends, anyone you think of that could offer some good advice or help you get your foot in the door somewhere. It’s so easy for applications to get lost in the pile or not make it through a complicated algorithm system so having a real live human putting in a good word for you can do wonders.
Take a break
It is OK to take a step back from the process if you are feeling burnt out. Taking a break could actually help clarify some of the negative feelings you are having. Are you discouraged by how long the process is taking? It might help to reset some of your expectations. It is not uncommon, especially for higher-level positions, for the process from start to finish to take several months. Or are you discouraged by the types of jobs you are eligible for? Maybe in your spare time, you can take a class or learn a new skill to boost your resume.
Job hunts can be tough, but if you have started the process that means you are on the verge of an exciting new chapter of your life. It can take time and can be very exhausting. Just remember to be patient and that the right opportunity is out there for you somewhere.