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“So, have you found a job yet?”
Everyone from your parents to your friends to your auntie-who’s-not-really-your-aunt loves to lob this question at you. Sure, you know they (mostly) mean well. It’s just that your entire existence already seems to orbit around your lack of employment.
We’re talking hundreds of ghosted applications. Jobs that require a master’s degree but pay a measly $15 an hour. Terribly inefficient job portals that force you to upload your resume and still manually input everything. And rejection email after rejection email.
At this point, employment can sound like an unattainable myth. And you wouldn’t be alone in that feeling.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, 10.1 million Americans are currently jobless. That’s more than the entire population of Switzerland.
Here’s the thing, though, nothing in life is permanent. That includes unemployment, no matter how depressing it may feel right now.
Job searching is a job in itself. That’s why it’s important to take care of yourself. Step away from the stress sometimes and just focus on you.
One day, you’ll be signing that sweet contract and cashing in that paycheck.
With that said, here are five tips on how to stay sane while job hunting.
#1: Reflect On Your Goals
So, you’ve spent months blasting out countless job applications to a cyber graveyard. At this point, you may be completely burnt out and just want to wither away in bed.
Maybe it’s time to regroup and reflect.
Take a closer look at your goals. Are they vague and unfocused? What steps will it take to reach them? What’s your timeline? Why are these your goals? What’s the endgame, if there is any besides being able to pay the bills?
Having a clear and focused vision will fuel your motivation and shut out distractions.
Of course, your vision will never crystallize into reality if you don’t actively take steps to get there. Set mangeable short-term and long-term goals so that you can measure your progress.
Short-term goal examples:
- Sending out five job applications a day
- Attending two virtual networking events a week
- Growing or revamping your work portfolio once a month
Long-term goal examples:
- Landing a job interview
- Scoring a second interview round
- Getting a foot in the door at the company of your dreams
By having both micro and macro goals, you’ll always be working toward your big picture. And that means you’ll always have something to feel confident and accomplished about.
#2: Create A Realistic Daily Routine
Science shows that having a daily routine reduces stress, provides better sleep, and boosts energy.
In other words, habits and familiarity keep us happy and healthy.
The same logic applies to job hunting. Instead of sporadically applying to jobs whenever and wherever, stick to a daily or weekly regimen.
- Apply to 3-5 jobs daily at a designated time and space. When you’re finished, leave that area and turn your brain off from even thinking about jobs.
- Set aside 15 minutes every day to grow and nurture your LinkedIn network for job and industry opportunities.
Be completely honest with yourself when building your routine. If you know that applying to more than one job a day will drain you, just stick with one. Work with yourself, and understand that any progress is something to be proud of.
Don’t forget that you can tweak your routine any time you want. If you decide that job hunting every single day is taking a toll on your mental health, cut back. You make the rules here. Don’t let some arbitrary standard shame you into compromising with yourself.
It’s all too easy to get overwhelmed by job searches. By automating the process, you’ll reclaim your time, energy, and overall happiness.
#3: Treat Yourself to Wins Big and Small
Discover what desires and impulses drive you – and use that knowledge to your advantage when job searching.
For example, let’s say you’re a fast food junkie and a shopaholic. Tell yourself that if you can land a phone interview next week, you’ll treat yourself to Shake Shack. Say you net a second interview? You’ll finally treat yourself to an item that’s sitting in your Amazon shopping cart.
For your long-term goals, you can devise even greater rewards. For example, you can promise yourself that once you receive a job offer, you’ll celebrate by renting out an entire movie theater for you and your loved ones. (Be sure to stay safe and keep your party small!)
By having treats and rewards to look forward to, you’ll be much more motivated to tackle your goals. What’s more, you’ll also be practicing self-care and consciously acknowledging your accomplishments. It’s a win-win.
#4: Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve logged onto LinkedIn and seen peers and strangers alike announcing their new job offers, their promotions from intern to full-time staff, etc.
Sure, it’s great to applaud others’ achievements. But constantly seeing these notifications can definitely exacerbate any feelings of inadequacy and self-disappointment.
As cliche as this may sound, comparing yourself to others is unproductive and unhelpful.
You’ll feel the urge to rush your goals when the timing might not be right. You’ll want to throw yourself deeper into the job search with little regards to your wellbeing.
You might even start to question your career goals as not being “impressive” or “prestigious” enough. This will only end up derailing you from your own path in pursuit of someone else’s vision.
You know you deserve better than that.
So, do what you have to do. Avoid social media if it’s plummeting your mental health. Reaffirm your goals and stick to your own timeline. Trust in yourself, your process, and your vision.
As long as you’re making progress, you’re doing everything right.
#5: Make Downtime Every Day
It’s important to unwind and unplug from the job search madness. Treat your job hunt like a 9-5, and leave it behind when you’re done for the day.
Go for a walk around the block. Sink into a hot, soothing bath. Carve out time for any hobbies, as it’s all too easy to neglect them when we’ve been sucked into a vortex of stress and pressure.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you’ll run out of fuel and be much too frazzled to put your best foot forward. During your next interview, your head might not be in the game – and potentially cost you the job.
Strive to detox daily with your favorite self-care habits and guilty pleasures, and save yourself the burnout.
With all of the advice that I’ve just dished out, know this above all else: looking for a job doesn’t make you a failure. At all.
The job market is already a harsh and callous landscape. Throw in a global pandemic, crippling economy, and violence against our communities and, well, you should congratulate yourself for even getting out of bed in the morning.
As you continue your job search, remember to relentlessly maintain your mental health. Take it easy sometimes and be kind to yourself.
While there are always going to be many jobs out there, there’s only one of you.
About the author
Name: Hakyung Yun
Industry/profession: Copywriter and Content Writer
Educational background: Communication B.A. and Entrepreneurship & Innovation Minor from UC San Diego
Years of professional experience: 1