Are you one of the thousands of people looking for a job right now? Have you sent out countless resumes into the seeming black hole of the job market? Have you felt great about a job interview but never heard back from the employer? If so, you might find some comforting words and encouraging ideas in this blog entry from my own experience. Check out these tips to tide you over until you finally do receive those elusive words, “You’ve got the job.”
1. Stay positive. Searching for a job is a frustrating process no matter what industry you pursue or your level of education. Some companies simply are not hiring or are hiring significantly fewer employees than in previous years. The current economy is not working in your favor, and this makes the search tedious and, at times, depressing. You’ve probably heard friends or family members say “You’ll get the right job at the right time.” These are trite words, but they do hold some truth. Stay motivated and keep a smile on your face while you search for jobs and during interviews. If you feel depressed at times, never fear – you are not alone.
2. Learn from your mistakes. This particular suggestion makes me laugh because I must be the reigning champion of awkwardness during interviews. During my second interview for an important job, I started to respond to the director of the agency that “with great power comes great responsibility.” Luckily I stopped myself in time to hastily change my answer, but I had to hold back my laughter throughout the remaining part of the interview for making Spiderman references. The bottom line is that as jobseekers we will make mistakes, whether it’s a word misspelled on our resume or an awkward moment in the interview. If and when you make a mistake, laugh about it, fix it, and make sure your next experience is a success.
3. Keep an open mind. Many of us graduated from school with a dream job in mind. Perhaps you specialized in a particular area of study and participated in all sorts of extracurricular activities that were related to that topic. With the current job market, you may not be able to obtain that dream job until several years have passed. I am not suggesting you give up on your dream; rather, I encourage you to find jobs that relate to your education and experience that may help you eventually reach your goal. Don’t ever feel like you are too good for a particular job. Employers want to see that you are motivated. This suggestion has personally been the hardest to accept after all of my years in school, but it is a reality that many new graduates are facing.
4. Develop a routine and adopt new strategies. How are you conducting your job search? Are you searching online databases, contacting people in your network, and attending job fairs? There is no sure-fire way to land a job, but establish a routine for your job search if you haven’t already. Develop a list of job sites to check daily or several times a week. One of the best pieces of advice a friend gave me is to let people know that you are looking for a job. You might be amazed how many friends, alumni from your university, and family members are out there willing to help you find a job. When you speak with those people, just drop a line about your job search and see if they have any advice or suggestions. Remember – your network can’t work for you if you don’t ask for help.
5. Say yes to other opportunities. Are there volunteer opportunities in your community that relate to your preferred job sector? Is there a part-time job that could expand your network and perhaps even result in full-time employment? As you begin to utilize your network, some people might suggest working somewhere on a volunteer basis. If you’re interested in working in politics, this is a great year to volunteer on a campaign. You will have gained valuable experience and made contact with people who might help you find a job. Keep a watchful eye on your finances, but remember that a rejected opportunity could result in a missed employment offer. Volunteer work can improve your resume and demonstrate your character to potential employers.
6. Keep track of your progress. This has helped me maintain my sanity throughout the job search. I keep an Excel spreadsheet of all jobs that I have applied for, the date of application, contact information for the job, and status of the application. Every person that I have emailed asking for advice or suggestions also goes on the list. With so many applications and emails, keeping a progress log has been the only solution to my prior sporadic and disjointed job search efforts. This method can help you determine which jobs merit a follow-up letter, and it also preserves information that might be deleted from a website once the interview process begins. Most importantly, the spreadsheet will indicate when a certain avenue of inquisition has been exhausted. For instance, if all of your applications to a specific job have failed, you may need to broaden your search to include other types of work. And for those days when you feel discouraged or depressed, open that spreadsheet and feast your eyes on all you have accomplished.
7. Don’t forget your struggle. If you finally found a job, remember how hard you worked to obtain it, and thank those people who may have helped you along the way. Use your new job status to help others who remain frustratingly unemployed. For every person who could not give a minute of their time, I have found an equal number who can’t wait to offer some help or advice. Please make sure you fall into the helpful category for future jobseekers as they enter the job market. Who knows? Your one piece of advice may make the difference for a jobseeker who has been looking for a job longer than you ever contemplated.
If you have been suffering from the jobseeker blues in this tough job market, try some of these tips. I hope you will find them helpful and encouraging. Most importantly, I hope we will all be kicking back our heels in a year’s time as we enjoy the life of the newly employed.