How tough is looking for a job? Tough enough that U.S. News & World Report writer Laura McMullen compares the process to being a down-and-out boxer expecting to be beaten. That tough.
McMullen uses that metaphor in “How to Overcome Job-Search Misery,” an informative post brimming with good advice from San Diego-based psychologist David Reiss and career expert Lea McLeod. As Reiss says, getting overly discouraged about your lack of success landing job interviews and offers can push you into a self-defeating cycle: You get bummed because your search is leading nowhere, and then you perform worse with your search.
What should you do? Reiss’ first two tips are to “have fun” and “vent.” If you love going to the movies or having dinner with friends, don’t deprive yourself of those joys, and if you’re upset about hiring managers not getting back to you or making you feel small, channel your anger into something positive, like exercise.
The next couple of suggests come from McLeod — author of the email newsletter called 21 Days to Peace at Work — and they’re somewhat similar and totally valuable: “get some perspective” and “seek support.” The job-search process isn’t supposed to be quick, and by nature, it involves putting yourself out there and opening yourself up for rejection. It helps to keep this in mind, just as it pays to find a friend or family member who can be “objective but compassionate” and help you work through your ups and downs. This person might even lend a hand with mock interviews.
Often, struggles on the job-search front are made worse by lack of money, and on that note, McLeod suggests looking for part-time work. This can be contact work or a temp job; McLeod’s main piece of advice here is to “have it be something that gives you a focus for your energy other than your job search.”
Finally, McLeod suggests you use your malaise as an opportunity to “change your strategy.” If you’re simply scrolling through job listings and applying for gigs you never hear back on, try adopting McLeod’s “stop applying, start targeting” mantra and networking your way into companies you’d like to work for. This, too, can be a lengthy process, but as you take advantage of connections and convince people to meet your for coffee or chat on the phone, you’ll start to hear the word “yes,” which can be a major morale boost.
Networking has been proven to be more effective than going through online application systems, so the more people you get to know, the closer you’ll get to ending your search and waving goodbye to those job-search blues. At least until the next time.