by Rachel Epps
I’ve been there. Whatever the circumstance, you find yourself in the unenviable position of looking for a new job. This can feel like a full-time job all by itself: handing out résumés that you have crafted to fit each individual role you are applying for, pouring heart and soul into cover letter after cover letter, staying on top of job postings ready to pounce on anything that you might qualify for, and hoping day in and day out that the phone will ring.
You try not to get your hopes up, while somehow remaining positive that the right opportunity will present itself. You fight to remain resilient in the face of rejection so you can keep moving forward and pressing on toward your goals.
It’s exhausting. And downright discouraging.
Job Search Stress
Job search stress ultimately comes down to a feeling of helplessness and uncertainty. Add to this the feelings of shame associated with joblessness, the feeling of being inadequate (no matter how untrue this may be), and the very real fear of not being able to make ends meet and you have a recipe for despair and even depression.
As a Recruiter, I hear these stories. Time and again, the themes of downsizing and restructuring have blindsided people who have loyally given their all to a company. I hear about Millennials, trying to make a start in an economy that keeps them saddled with debt, unable to dream about ever owning a home, and feeling like their education has not given them the promised ticket to success. Employers are often unwilling to invest the time and money needed to train them, so it’s an impossible catch-22 of needing to have experience, but not being given the chance to gain it.
The disheartening effects of the job hunt are very real. Yet, with just a bit of a mindset shift, there are some ways that job seekers can take some control back into their own hands, convince employers to take a chance on them and stay positive.
1. Plan for a time each day to give your energy to your job hunt:
It is important to be on top of job postings each and every day. I say this because in the recruiting world, sometimes it is a first-come, first-served reality. When a role needs to be filled quickly, the first to apply are often the ones who are given top consideration. However, don’t despair if you are “just now” seeing the post—apply anyway! You don’t know if the company just hasn’t found the right fit—and maybe it’s you! Bottom line, you’ll increase your likelihood of being noticed by applying quickly and staying active in your search. This is you controlling the outcomes; the more you put out there, the better your odds.
2. Use each “no” as an opportunity to re-strategize:
Easier said than done, right? I know. It stings. However, bear in mind that a rejection is not a reflection on your worth as a person or as a candidate. There are many factors that go into selecting a candidate that might mean you are not the right fit in company A but the perfect fit at company B. That said, you might want to reflect on what you could be doing to improve. Where in the process is the “no” happening? Are you making it past résumé selection? If not, take your résumé to a professional for tips. Is it after interviews? Maybe your nerves are getting the better of you and you need to read up on interviewing strategies that will bring more success. Try to see this a time to master these skills. You can also ask for feedback from an interviewer.
3. Ensure that you find time for your wellness:
Whatever this means to you, do it. Whether it is staying active, listening to music, reading, or socializing–know yours and be sure to practice them. Wellness techniques can help bring down your stress level; they’re a reminder that you are more than your work.
4. Take a few risks:
When I applied for my job, I had the passion, but zero experience. I figured I had nothing to lose, so I sent an email to the owner of the business, explaining to him that I wanted to make a difference in this small corner of the world. It just so happened that this was exactly why he and his wife had started the business and so it was a match. Be smart about how you do this; don’t write emails, or drop in, if there are explicit directives in the job ad warning against this approach. But otherwise, go for it! Sell yourself and set yourself apart.
Volunteering, particularly if it is connected to your line of work, is a powerful and meaningful way to network, to gain experience and to combat depression. Studies have shown that volunteering leads to greater feelings of self-worth, purpose and connection. Seek out opportunities in organizations where you would like to find yourself employed, make yourself known for your positivity and work ethic, and who knows what doors may open! And even if a door does not open here, it may lead to any number of important and helpful connections.
In this market, you cannot underestimate the power of networking. Studies reveal that it is the single most effective means of securing work in our modern world. Build up your LinkedIn profile by connecting with others in your industry, go to events and meetups, and have open chats with people you meet about your career goals. You can also connect with companies in your field and ask if you can meet with key people for advice on how to improve yourself or break into the industry. You will be gaining valuable insights while simultaneously networking. Open yourself to the possibility that any one conversation or meeting could lead to a job opportunity.
7. Share your values:
Above all, companies are looking for someone who fits in their culture. It’s a combination of skills, experience, personality and values. When you reach out to companies on LinkedIn or via email, be sure you have some sense of their values or mission statement. If you align, then be sure to let them know that you share core goals and ideals. You want to work for a company you feel passionate about; they want candidates who match their vision.
8. Work with a caring recruiting agency:
This may seem like a plug–and it is—but only because I believe in it! My colleagues and I are a team of empathetic, passionate people who are in this industry because we want to connect people with the work they love. This means that we take time to get to know candidates, build a relationship, and stay connected. If we don’t have a role now, we might later, and we do our best to keep looking on our candidate’s behalf. You can reach out to us for updates, for feedback and for tips. Furthermore, we act as an advocate for you with our clients. We help them to see the bigger picture of your traits, your skills, and your value; in short, we humanize you. You are not just a name on a piece of paper.
Take control of your search, market yourself, take some risks and try not to let setbacks hold you down.
And remember that one day, someone is going to need your advice and you’ll say, “Oh, I’ve been there.”