Job-searching can be a lot of things: daunting, discouraging, infuriating... But relaxing is definitely not one of them.The journey of job-searching is often a long and harrowing one. So I’ve decided to share some of the tips I’ve assembled along the road. And from one job-searcher to another: good luck!
1. Budget accordingly
I’m lucky to have parents who understand my struggle and are able to support me financially. That’s not the case for a lot of people. But even if you can depend on someone else - family members or a spouse - to help you out, it’s extremely stressful to know you’re no longer earning your own living.
A good way to take the edge off is to have a plan: figure out how much you can afford to spend on food, rent, clothes, fun, etc. A lot of anxiety is based on uncertainty. You’ll feel more equipped to deal with the situation once you’ve made a concrete plan. Remember that there’s no shame in picking up a small part-time job to keep yourself afloat while looking for something more permanent.
2. Try not to get too obsessed
When you’re looking for a job, you may feel an urge to spend hours on LinkedIn, Indeed, and other job-seeking websites. You start applying to jobs that are juuust a bit out of your field, because you never know. During the peaks of my job-searching frenzy, I applied to at least three jobs a day, every day, for about a month. Eventually, I realised that wasn’t the best idea. Instead of finding postings that truly matched my profile, I wasted time and energy on ones that only vaguely interested me.
Try to resist the impulse to apply to every job you see
It’s easy to become restless, but don’t forget that you’re applying to actual jobs: if you get it (fingers crossed!), you’ll be spending a lot of your time in that environment. It’s not worth exhausting yourself to get a job, only to be miserable at it.
3. Fill up your time
Being jobless can get lonely and boring when everyone around you is busy working and/or studying. Suddenly you have a lot of free time on your hands and no one to spend it with. But look on the bright side: your time is a scarce and precious resource (learn more about spending your time mindfully in this blog). Think of it as an opportunity to enjoy your hobbies, work on your mental health, and learn new skills. This might help your search in the long run.
Employers are looking for more than a degree; they want to know that you’re passionate, full of initiative, and a self-starter. We live in such a “hustle culture” that it’s easy to feel like you can’t be productive without a job. But working hard isn’t something you do exclusively at a workplace: there’s a lot of work that goes into being a well-balanced person, and that work will always pay off.
4. Have patience
I personally had a lot of trouble with this. Yes, you can optimize your own time by applying to jobs, enjoying your hobbies, starting new projects… But once you send in your application, the ball’s in their court. Employers receive a lot of applications every day, and they have to examine each of them to determine who’s the best fit. Sometimes, it takes them weeks to respond. More often than not, job-searching is a waiting game.
So when you’ve done everything you could to sell your skills, it’s time to sit back and (at least try to) relax. As someone who has little to no patience, I know it’s hard: that’s why you need to occupy your mind with other things (see tip number three).
5. Remember your value
If you take anything away from this blog, let it be this: your self-worth is NOT dependent on your ability to get a job. Too many people fall into the trap of basing their identity on their work. If job-searching is damaging your self-esteem, remember your success in other areas of your life: maybe things aren’t looking so bright in the career department, but you’ve got a healthy relationship with a loving partner! Or maybe, you’ve been able to give more attention and support to a friend in need.
Compartmentalization is key; in other words, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. When things aren’t going well in one area of your life, you may be prompted to catastrophize and feel that your whole life is “falling apart.” But when you take a step back to look at the bigger picture, that’s usually not the case.
Anyone who has gone through the job-searching process will tell you that the struggle is real. At some moments, it can be hard not to feel hopeless or overwhelmed, especially if this is your first time looking for work. But don’t get discouraged - it’s only a matter of time before you land that job. In the meantime, I hope these tips can help make the wait easier.