About a year and a half ago, there was a period of about five to six months that I spent looking for a new job, and it was the most frustrating period of my professional life. It’s a common experience among people I know, to go through extended periods where they are actively looking for a new job, but can’t find one. Sometimes, they give up and remain at their current job, sometimes they simply quit with having no game plan. It feels emotionally draining to go through the process of applying for jobs over and over again. You get your hopes up when you see a new position, you apply for it, tweak your resume, practice speaking to your skills, go on the interview, and stress out for days before and after — it’s a job in itself.
While I like to believe that it was a series of extenuating circumstances that were the reason I wasn’t getting the jobs I applied to, I know that that probably wasn’t the case. To be honest, my resume and portfolio lacked projects that recruiters wanted to see, and I knew that my portfolio wasn’t as robust as other candidates’ portfolios were. I felt so lost and unsure as to what kind of job I even wanted, that I was applying to positions that weren’t a good fit for me or my skills.
Whether you’re having trouble finding a job after graduating, or are in the midst of your career and it’s been difficult to make a move, there are ways to alleviate the stress of the never-ending job hunt. Below are 12 tips from individuals who experienced an extended job hunt, and how they handled the stress and pressure that came with it.
1. “I was tempted to just give up after five interviews, because I was so exhausted. I took a short break for a few weeks to just hit the reset button. Afterwards, I felt reinvigorated, and when I went on my next interview I knocked it out of the park and got the job. Sometimes, you need to hit pause so you don’t stretch yourself too thin.” – Jenna
2. “It took me a while to realize what was lacking from my portfolio. I had a few of my friends, who work in the same industry as me, take a look at it. They pointed out areas that needed improvements and gave me invaluable feedback. Their advice helped me more than anything, and I want to kick myself for waiting as long as I did to ask for it.” – Erica
3. “I used to be skittish about networking, and I thought it was something I would never need to do. Turns out, when I started being more vocal about looking for work, people around me responded. I found myself emailing, calling, and connecting with more people than I ever had in my life. Don’t be afraid to go out on a limb and use your friends and acquaintances smartly when you need to.” – Eric
4. “I went through a period of time where I was looking for a job for about four months. Looking back on it, I came across as a nervous wreck in interviews because I never felt confident or practiced interviewing. Practicing with friends, family, or your SO is a must and will help you interview like a rock star.” – Kate
5. “I survived this period of (minor) depression by creating playlists of music to pump me up when I was feeling my lowest. Sounds lame, but it helped change my attitude from one of despair to resilience.” – Stephanie
6. “Being unemployed way longer than all of my friends meant that I held down a number of odd jobs. While I eventually did transition to one full-time position, I didn’t waste the period of time when I wasn’t employed. I worked ferociously on side gigs that taught me skills I wouldn’t have learned otherwise.” – Erin
7. “I sought out older wiser mentors and professors from college, so I could sit down with them and talk about how they got their start. Never underestimate the power that mentors can have with helping you figure out how to snag a job.” – Stacy
8. “Job interviews aren’t a one-way street. You have to engage the person interviewing you if you want to walk away having left an impression. The quicker I figured that out, the easier the interviews became. I found myself getting call backs from multiple agencies 10x more frequently than before.” – Casey
9. “You have to try to stay positive. Don’t forget to live your life and have fun. Don’t get sucked into a rut because you’re having trouble finding a full-time job — it’s not the only thing in life that determines your success and happiness.” – Lindsay
10. “Take people who work in industries you want to break into out for coffee/lunch/dinner. I’ve been able to pick people’s brains about so much stuff I never even thought to ask about. It’s helped me streamline my job search process and find something that suited my strengths perfectly.” – Ryan
11. “Give yourself deadlines. When the job hunt turns into a sprawling multi-month long affair, it’s easy to push things off. I knew my portfolio needed work if I wanted to land a job, so I set hard dates to finish projects, fill out applications, and redesign my resume.” – Leanne
Everyone will find a job at a different pace, and it’s important to focus on yourself and how you can do better without comparing yourself to everyone else. Below are some excellent resources that you can look into to help you get through what might turn out to be an extended period of unemployment/job hunt.