by Scottie Kapel, former Head Editor, INALJ Oregon
previously published 6/20/13 & 9/26/14
Keeping your head above water:
How to stay positive during a long job hunt
For many of you reading, you may very well be on your fourth, fifth, or sixth month of your job hunt. For others, you may have passed that timeframe months ago. You’ve sent out countless resumes, perfected a cover letter that captures both your personality and qualifications, and had a couple of interviews, but you haven’t had any offers…yet. I know we all hoped while we were in school that we would be hired right after — or even better, before — completing our degrees, but for many of us this is simply not the case. As job hunts become longer than anticipated and the end of student loan grace periods looms closer and closer, it can be very easy to get dispirited while looking for a job, and that frustration may become evident to potential employers. To avoid slipping into the job hunt blues, it is important to balance your time between searching for a job and doing activities that you find rewarding. Even if job hunting is currently your full-time occupation, make sure your work day doesn’t begin to creep into your off hours.
Go for a walk or run. Pack a picnic and head to the park. Throw the ball for your dog in your backyard. Pull some weeds out of your garden. Look for sharks teeth on the beach. Go camping. Getting fresh air is a great way to reset your system. You may not realize that you have cabin fever until you get out of your house, so make sure to set aside a few minutes every day to get outside. Don’t forget your sunscreen.
Get a hobby
This is something I cannot stress highly enough. Find something you love to do and commit to doing it every day. If you already have an activity you love, don’t lose sight of it while you’re looking for a job. The joy you find from a hobby can prove to be a welcome respite during moments of frustration. If you can look forward to something during even the most monotonous aspects of job hunting, it certainly makes those moments far more bearable.
Get your learn on
This is an outlet with twice the rewards. One of the universal traits of those in our field is that we really enjoy learning. If your job hunt is taking longer than anticipated, take some time to enroll in webinars, teach yourself a new skill, or revisit something you learned in grad school that you feel you struggled with or want to brush up on. There are plenty of opportunities in our field for professional development and many of these opportunities are free. Not only will you find personal gratification in expanding your knowledge, but you will also become more marketable.
Get good karma
Go volunteer. If your city is anything like mine, budgets are thin and libraries, museums, and historical societies welcome volunteers – especially those trained in the field. Volunteering will get you valuable experience and keep your skills fresh. Moreover, by being a responsible and knowledgeable volunteer, when a position does open up at the institution, you might be considered for an interview.
And finally, don’t get your heart set
There is nothing like the sheer joy of reading a listing for a position that seems as though it was written specifically with you in mind. We’ve all had that experience, and if you’re anything like me, the minute you submit your application materials, you’re looking at real estate and falling in love with the new city you feel confident you’ll soon inhabit. It’s hard not to, but my advice is try not to put all of your eggs in one basket. It’s great to be enthusiastic about a position you’ve applied for, but if your heart is set on it and you’ve already imagined yourself in the position, not being offered the position will be that much harder. By all means, apply for that dream job, but don’t stop there. Keep looking. Keep applying.
Even with these suggestions, it is not uncommon to experience periods of despondency during the job hunt. The key is to try to snap out of those moments before they become the norm. The thing that continually impresses me about the readers of INALJ.com is that you are all highly qualified, eager to advocate your strengths, and determined to find a job. All of the INALJ volunteers are dedicated to helping you find jobs, and we do this because we are confident of your skills and abilities and can empathize with the grueling process of hunting for a job — many of us are going through it right along with you. Although it may take longer than first expected, I am hopeful that all of you find a job you love, and by balancing your time on the hunt with other activities, the process may be less painful and more rewarding.