When a Sprint Becomes an Ultramarathon

by Adrith Bedore Bicchieri, former head editor, INALJ Maryland
previously published 8/9/13

When a Sprint Becomes an Ultramarathon: Tips for an Extended Job Search

adrithbThe end of July marked one year of job searching for me, an anniversary I’d rather not have celebrated.


A job search of any length longer than you had cared, hoped, or were able to live comfortably unemployed can wreak havoc on the most positive outlook. I went seeking articles on ways to manage a long job search with one’s positivity and grace intact, and the resulting articles tended to share some common advice:


  • Look offline: don’t spend all day on online job search resources (not even INALJ!) – find opportunities to do some in-person networking or skill improvement. Think computer classes at your local library, Toastmasters for public speaking, local or regional user groups for software you may be familiar with. Get involved with local or regional library associations.
  • Volunteer: there is a lot of talk lately about whether volunteering can help or hurt your job search. I firmly believe it helps; not only does it add routine to your day, but if you can volunteer for an organization for whom you’d like to work, the people there may look favorably on your volunteer service when it comes time to apply for openings. They may consider you as an internal candidate, or skip the slush pile of applications in selecting candidates to interview.
  • Keep active (or get active): getting regular exercise, even if it’s just a walk around the block, helps support mental health as well as physical health and adds routine to your day.
  • Set attainable goals to stay in the game: It is possible to do everything right and still not get a job offer after a great interview. Fight discouragement by focusing on the things that you can control, and set your goals accordingly. Start small, if you’re feeling overwhelmed; success at smaller goals will help develop the positive self-image and attitude to take on larger ones.
If I had one recommendation to add, it would be this:
  • Engage in activities with visible returns on time investments. Once the application is sent in, or once the thank-you letters for the interview are delivered, the process is entirely out of your hands. If you aren’t chosen for a position, it is very likely not anything you did wrong – there could be 80, 100, 300 other applicants. If you have a hobby that produces a tangible result in return for time spent working on it, this is a great activity to get back to. Being able to look at a completed project and feel achievement and satisfaction is a great help when you’re pouring hours of work into high quality application packets only to never hear back. It doesn’t have to be some kind of craft hobby either; it could be as simple as weeding out your closet, tackling a new recipe, or reorganizing your bathroom linen cupboard.
I reorganized my spice collection this weekend, putting the most frequently used in new tins and relabeling them using scrapbooking supplies. You may be thinking that it probably took several hours away from job searching – and you would be right, it did. After a year, I needed a break.
You may too, and that’s okay. If it gives you what you need to get back in the fray, it’s brilliant.

  2 comments for “When a Sprint Becomes an Ultramarathon

Comments are closed.