Wouldn’t it be nice if a magical, little job fairy could sprinkle her dust on you, and—POOF—you instantly had the job of your dreams?
Well, Tesla did just come out with the uberly-futuristic Cybertruck, so it shouldn’t be long before scientists finagle some sort of Fairy Jobmother (fingers crossed).
But until then…we’re (unfortunately) left to fend for ourselves and find our own work opportunities. It doesn’t sound quite so bad in theory, but in practice—well, it can be a whole other story.
In my personal experience, job hunting can be summed up into a few simple words: Exhausting. Discouraging. Running an uphill battle (with 20-lb. weights strapped to both ankles). And did I mention…EXHAUSTING?
When I graduated with my Master’s degree, the world of job opportunities was my oyster…or so I thought. I was very lucky in the beginning, getting tons of freelance projects via networking. But one thing that any freelancer can tell you is that when it rains freelance work, it pours. And when it’s dry, well…it’s a Sahara-desert-kind-of-dry.
I took to the Internet, scouring sites like Indeed, GlassDoor, and LinkedIn for hours a day. Finding a job was starting to feel like a full-time job—and an unpaid one, at that.
After a few months of not much luck, a lot of false leads, and copious amounts of coffee, I knew I had to come up with a plan to keep myself motivated while job searching. Here are a few tips that I used (and you can too!) to keep my head above water when my job search was going on for a bit longer than I’d anticipated.
How to Stay Focused While Job Hunting
1. Schedule social time.
I cannot stress how important this is, hence why it appears as tip número uno. Job hunting is an inherently isolating activity, and a stressful one to-boot.
I used to spend hours alone at my computer determined to find my big break, instead only feeling emptiness when the day wrapped up. The cause? I wasn’t balancing my alone time with our basic human need to socialize.
When I first started reaching out to friends, it felt a bit like a scheduled preschool-esque playdate, but that’s the reality of having friendships as adults with busy schedules! Once I aced this tip, my job searching seemed to go a lot smoother.
2. Set time limits.
Your computer is always there, which means you can always be job searching…right? (Very) wrong. My inbox used to ping with around 20 job e-mail notifications per day, and I felt pressured to answer them no matter what time of day it was. But after several late-night Gmail sessions and the next-day dark circles to prove it, I reached my breaking point.
Think of it this way—just because a tub of Ben & Jerry’s is sitting in your freezer doesn’t mean you should eat it all day, right? A little online research showed me that experts recommend to maintain a schedule as if you had a job (like a 9-5) while searching for jobs, and I couldn’t agree more.
3. Prepare yourself to be ghosted.
We all hope to hear back from each and every job we apply to, but that’s unfortunately not always going to be the case. With most applications being submitted online in our digital age, companies receive astronomical amounts of resumes and can’t possibly respond to all of them (*insert sigh here*).
This whole process is actually a lot like using online dating sites (stay with me for this analogy)—you’re going to have to face the fact that you’re going to be ghosted from time to time, and that’s okay. For a little help along the way, check out 5 Ways to Practice Self-Care When You Don’t Get the Job.
4. Celebrate your victories—even the microscopic ones.
One major plus of being on the job hunt is that there is no boss breathing down your neck (phew). But the downside? There’s also no one there to tell you when you’ve done a great job. When seeking work, don’t forget to be your own cheerleader (pom poms aren’t necessary–don’t worry).
Keeping yourself motivated and recognizing your efforts is extremely important so you don’t experience job search burnout. So, you submitted all three resumes on your list today? You practiced your mock interview skills with a friend and only went off on a The Office tangent once? I consider that a win in my book!
5. Know that having a job (or a temporary lack thereof) does not determine your worth.
After I had been looking for a career for weeks to no avail, I noticed that my self-esteem started to take a dive. Society places a large portion of our identity on our position in the workforce—I mean, one of the most overused icebreakers of all time is “What do you do for a living?” I found myself start to sweat whenever I had to answer that question–was I even contributing to society at all?
After lots of cathartic self-wallowing, I sat myself down for a pep-talk. I realized that the job market is flooded with thousands of eager applicants (think bloodthirsty vampires), and it was normal that it would take me a bit to find my perfect career. Once I realized that my job doesn’t define me and that being temporarily unemployed didn’t make me any less of myself, my entire outlook changed for the better.
So, if you’ve been searching for a job and haven’t struck your dream job yet, fret not. Stick to the tips above, and your dream job just might come along when you least expect it!