Trying to find a job is one of the most gut-wrenching, nerve-racking and generally discouraging activities one can engage in. The searching for suitable positions, the ceaseless resume editing and perfecting of cover letters – it’s enough to drive someone absolutely crazy. And sending out dozens of resumes and not hearing back? It’s the worst! Surely at some point you’ll want to give up and hide under the covers, but that’s not an option. The fact is, you will get an offer sooner or later. It will happen, it just takes time. In today’s tough economy, it can take from four to six months (or longer!) to find a new gig, even for supremely qualified candidates.
Take it from someone who has just spent five months hunting and applied to over 80 positions (I kept a spreadsheet) before finally getting an offer, that despite this being an exceptionally trying time, it’s possible to keep your sanity. Here are my tips for not losing your marbles while looking for a job.
They say when you’re unemployed, looking for jobs should be your job. We all know that applying to jobs for 40 hours a week is near impossible, but you should set some quantifiable goals for each day and week. For example, you can make it a goal to apply to at least eight jobs each week, or to spend four hours looking each day. This way, each time you’ve reached your goal, you can feel a little victorious.
Meet With People in Your Industry
Surely you’ve heard that sometimes it’s not what you know but who you know, which sounds discouraging to those who don’t have contacts in their desired industry. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get to know people! Attend industry events and meet-ups and network, network, network. You’d be surprised how willing some professionals are to help younger folks in the beginning stages of their careers. The people you meet may not necessarily have a job in mind for you but they’re often happy to sit down with you to discuss the industry you’re interested in and give you advice. Ask around your circle of friends if they can connect you to people they know in similar industries, too.
LinkedIn, combined with the magical powers of Google, makes it a no-brainer to find almost anyone’s email address. If you find someone on LinkedIn who has had a similar career path to yours, reach out to them and offer to buy them a coffee in exchange for a half an hour’s conversation. Be prepared to tell them about your background and future goals, and ask lots of questions. And you never know, if a job opens up at their company soon, guess who they’ll think of?
Find a Café
Having nowhere to go on weekdays while everyone else heads off to work will prove to be depressing. And applying to jobs in your pajamas on the couch isn’t the best idea, so don’t spend every day at home. Instead, get up at a reasonable hour, put on real pants and find a quiet café nearby with free wifi and cheap coffee. You’ll be way more productive out in public as opposed to at home alone (your cat doesn’t count). Plus, you never who you’ll meet out there. A great opportunity may be sitting right next to you.
Focus on Hobbies and Develop New Ones
Looking for jobs can be draining so try to focus on other things when you can. Being unemployed is a great time to devote more energy to your hobbies, or to pick up new ones. And if your hobby is physical, even better – you’re going to need all the endorphins you can get!
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
So what if your friend found a job faster than you, or is further along in his/her career? Everyone has their own talents, strengths and professional experience. There’s a time and place for everything, and we all have our own journey, so be patient and wait your turn.