Self-Care for Job-Seekers

by Elinor Crosby
previously published 5/17/13 & 6/19/14 & 12/9/15

Self-Care for Job-Seekers

480994_10152639287805043_64001079_nJob searching is a difficult task, and sometimes it seems Sisyphean. There are points in the process where even the toughest, most dedicated seeker becomes disheartened and begins to spiral into despair. Many factors contribute to this, and under- and over-employment are among them. If you don’t have enough temporary/non-LIS work to sustain you during your job search, money is the biggest stressor. If you are working multiple part-time jobs, or have a full-time gig, then not being able to spend as much time job-searching may be your woe. What do you do?

Make time for yourself.

Time that isn’t looking-for-work time, or collapsed-in-front-of-the-TV time; time for you to do something that you love, that may be frivolous, may not further your quest for a library job, but which will nurture your soul. Volunteer at something you are passionate about. For instance, former classmates of mine volunteer at a local animal shelter as kitten-cuddlers. Once a week they go in and snuggle that week’s batch of cats and kittens that need love and attention and socialization. Yes, volunteering looks great on your resume, but they are doing it because they love doing it, which makes a big difference in their stress levels.


Keep a schedule.

Try to get up at the same time every day; it’s healthier for your body and mind. Don’t fall into the trap of “I don’t anything to get up for in the morning, I’ll just stay up all night.” Therein lies isolation and the wee hours spent in fruitless self-examination and recrimination. Make looking for work your job. Get up and do it first thing in the morning, and then it’s done. If you make a routine of searching all the job sites, writing cover letters, tweaking your resume, and interview preparation, you will be more than ready when the right job comes along. You won’t have to reset your circadian rhythm to match the working world because you will be doing it already.


Plan some you time.

But what if you’re one of the people who are working too much, and don’t have time to volunteer, or even time to read a new novel?   Make the time at least once a week to do one thing that is not work or job search related. Meditation might work! To paraphrase the Dalai Lama, if you don’t have time to meditate for ten minutes a day, meditate for an hour every day. Also, make time to sleep, eat good food, exercise, get plenty of sleep, and see your friends. I teach bellydance, and I find that it provides me with so much that keeps me going while I’m looking for work: friendship, support, exercise, and most importantly, time to just live in the moment and forget my worries. If not meditation or bellydance, what about yoga? Or Tai Chi? One hour a week of physical movement is not a lot to commit to, and can help your overworked mind and body keep going.


Stay nourished.

If you’re working and job-searching, the other thing that can be really problematic is keeping yourself physically nourished. Make sure to drink lots of water and not too much caffeine, and try to eat in a balanced manner. What saved me during library school and during my job search were my crockpot, my car share membership, and my friend’s CostCo membership. A friend and I would go every 2-3 weeks, get a car for a few hours, go big grocery shopping and plan our meals for the next few weeks. Having a car available meant we could get the shopping done efficiently; we could buy in bulk and not have to worry about carrying them home by ourselves on the bus. And also, it was an outing where we also took some time to enjoy ourselves and get ourselves a treat. Then I would throw a big meal in my crockpot, and eat it for five days so that I didn’t have to think about what was going in my mouth. I still do this during busy times of the month, and it helps a lot. Also, if you’re worried about money, it’s cheaper to plan ahead and buy in bulk.

Whether you have no job or too much job while searching for your dream library job, carve some space that is just yours and take care of your psyche. It will help to keep you sane and grounded, which will in turn help you in your hunt.

Naomi House

Naomi House, MLIS, is the founder and publisher of the popular LIS jobs resource (formerly I Need a Library Job). Founded in October 2010 with the assistance of her fellow Rutgers classmate, Elizabeth Leonard, INALJ’s social media presence has grown to include Facebook (retired in 2016), Twitter and a LinkedIn group, in addition to the interviews, articles and jobs found on INALJ has had over 20 Million page views and helped thousands of librarians and LIS folk find employment! Through grassroots marketing, word of mouth and a real focus on exploring unconventional resources for job leads, INALJ grew from a subscription base of 20 friends to a website with over 500,000 visits in a month. Naomi believes that well-sourced quantity is quality in this narrow job market and INALJ reflects this many new jobs published daily. She was a 2013 Library Journal Mover & Shaker and has served on the University of Maryland iSchool Board from 2014-2017. Naomi was a Reference, Marketing and Acquisitions Librarian for a contractor at a federal library outside Washington, DC, and now lives part time in Western NY and Budapest, Hungary. She has heard of spare time but hasn’t encountered it lately. She pronounces INALJ as eye-na-elle-jay. 


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