Job hunting: two soul-crushing words. For those who quickly get a job, it’s a boring but relatively painless experience. For those that don’t, the feeling of dread at turning on your laptop steadily increases. Day in, day out, you customize your résumé, create cover letters, fill in application forms, and wait for responses. The cynicism creeps in and you start to question your own capabilities. You wonder, should I settle or keep applying for careers I want? Is my cover letter too short? Or too long? Do I just lack any sense of what employers want? Am I making a crucial mistake on my résumé—and if so, how on earth do I find it?
While there’s no easy shortcut to getting a job, there are six things you can do to both increase your chances of success AND make yourself feel much better.
1. Get your template cover letter and résumé checked by someone else—just in case.
If possible, try to get the perspective of somebody in a professional field, in the industry, or who works in HR to take a look. Why should you get it checked? If there is a glaring error or something that could use tweaking, a second set of eyes will spot it much more quickly than you will. If there isn’t, then you’ve gained reassurance that you’re sending off a strong application. It’s win-win.
2. Create a spreadsheet.
It doesn’t matter how much you hate Excel, this will make your life so much better. You’ll be able to track which industries you’ve had the most success in reaching the later stages of the process in, what reasons you were given when companies rejected you, and how many applications you’ve actually done. Rather than feeling miserable about the millions of jobs you’ve unsuccessfully applied for, you’ll be able to access valuable data that will help you to know where to target and what to improve. On top of that, having an evidence-based plan will instantly give you a boost of optimism and focus.
3. Get something to do.
Of course, you want paid work in your industry. But while you apply for that, try doing unpaid internships, volunteering with charities, or studying courses linked to your preferred industry. Alternatively, do you know someone with a business that could use your skills? Write up a proposal, bring up your idea with them, and then ask if you can give them your proposal to look at.
Doing these things will look good on your résumé, will appreciate both your proactivity and the additional experience. It’ll also give you some variety and a purpose in your daily life. That sense of gloom as you wonder what you actually accomplished today will be replaced with satisfaction at your completed tasks.
Worried that this might take up too much time, or prevent you from attending interviews? The internet is your friend. Look for virtual internships (particularly useful if you’re looking for social media/communications/media positions) or check out MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) for free, online courses. Both of these will enable you to work or study around interviews and job applications.loyers will appreciate both your proactivity and the additional experience. It’ll also give you some variety and a purpose in your daily life. That sense of gloom as you wonder what you actually accomplished today will be replaced with satisfaction at your completed tasks.
4. Give yourself time off.
It’s easy to feel guilty if you don’t spend all your time looking for a job, especially when family members, friends, or housemates come home from work and ask about your day. Yet giving yourself breaks is vital. If you don’t, you’ll be cranky and tired. Over the long-term, that can turn into despondency. This isn’t just horrible—it’s also ineffective. Your creativity will wither, meaning your cover letters and résumés will start to sound tired, recycled, and might even contain errors.
Treat job hunting like a job. Give yourself weekends and most evenings off, plus a small ‘lunch break’ in which to eat lunch and read a chapter of your book, send your friend a message, or even go for a walk. Don’t give up your hobbies. And…
5. See people.
Everyone needs human interaction. While you might want to be frugal until you have a job, that doesn’t rule out socializing. Invite friend6 Tricks to Job Hunting Success (And Happiness)s over for a potluck dinner, to watch a DVD, or for a picnic in the park.
The other important part of seeing people is networking. When you’re trying to break into an industry, this can seem out of your reach. Don’t rule it out immediately, though. Check if your alma mater has any events you can attend, look online for events that are likely to appeal to people in your industry, and see if you have any friends of friends you could get an introduction to. Just remember that networking is most effective when people like you—and most people don’t like salespeople. Focus on making connections, rather than getting job offers or tips.
6. Get out of the house.
You can start to feel caged pretty quickly if you always do job applications at home. Try going to the local library or a café (preferably one with power sockets and Wi-Fi, of course). Go for a walk in the evening. Get some exercise. Sit in the park, or even your garden, while eating lunch. The fresh air and change of scenery will reinvigorate you, giving you more energy for job hunting and making you a lot happier.
Most importantly of all, don’t give up. Job hunting is monotonous, disheartening work, but don’t forget that it will end eventually. Until then, just keep looking after yourself by following our six steps.
Interested in reading more about job hunting? Check back next week for Nicole’s article on networking!
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