I graduated in 2008, and it seems like since then I have been searching for the perfect job. I’m going to lean on the collapse of the economy, as it feels like I have tried everything short of showing up in a suit and taking a desk at a random company until someone notices and shoos me out. But who knows? When you feel that you’re trying everything and you still can’t find that job that uses your skills the most effectively, it’s easy to despair.
The job search process can be summed up in two words: Soul. Crushing. Think you’re great at something? Do everything in your power to prove it. Try not to despair when you hear nothing back, or you get a rejection letter after the first interview. And try not to throw up your hands and head straight to the welfare office when you get two or three interviews in with a company, only to have your hopes dashed in a form email.
Trying to freelance? Be prepared to sell your every marketable talent–save your sexual prowess–only to have radio silence on the new client front for months. Oh, were you trying to make rent?
Job searching is a full-time job, everyone agrees. But what do you do when you spend each day doing EVERYTHING, and you still have a few hours of life left in the day?
1. Go TF Outside.
It’s free. And the exercise couldn’t hurt. Hate running? Then walk, ya dingus. Those endorphins might keep you from ripping all your hair out, and it gives you time to just be a person beyond this applying-machine you’ve become. You are more than your resume. Look at trees. Envy them. They don’t have to job search. Look at the birds. They have it harder than you. Living is their full-time job. They may not be searching for jobs, but it’s because they were born into it, and it’s called Eating and Caring for Young and Trying Not to Get Killed By Cats or Cars.
- Go to a museum. It’s not job-searching, and you may just find inspiration.
- Do your job search at a cafe. That way you can actually wear something other than pajamas and feel slightly more professional and less like a house cat.
- Go somewhere you’ve never gone before and meet one new person. Tempt the universe into throwing you a bone, just for being spontaneous. Also, this helps keep up your social skills.
Look up the companies you’re interested in. Look up their employees. Look up their LinkedIn pages. Scour their interests, their client lists, their previous work. Unlike tracking down your exes on Facebook, this is not considered stalking, but a very respectable–and necessary form of creepy job-searching technique. This is your homework, the thing companies want you to do before reaching out to them.
Pretend you’re a detective, and the mystery is: HOW DID ALL THESE PEOPLE GET THEIR JOBS.
3. Update Your Socials.
I both loathe and need social media. I loathe it because I’m aware it’s all personal advertisement, and I am a person with complexities and contradictions that maybe should not be advertised to just anyone. But companies want to see that personality, believe it or not (I still mostly don’t). Also if you’re going into any field like marketing, management, journalism, even graphic design, you need to know how successful companies use this medium to promote their brand or services.
View your pages from the perspective of a hiring manager, and decide whether or not you would want to hire you based on a stranger’s perception of what you decide to post. Political tirades? Vague-book complaints and fist-shaking at the world? Not so much. But intellectual engagement with issues that matter to you? A plug for your friend’s latest gallery showing? A lengthy description of the perfect cup of coffee? Do it.
Indulging in your interests can actually work in your favor, so lean into them and don’t be afraid to tell it like it is (to an appropriate extent).
Also, consider creating a webscape (TM Juliana Converse) of profiles tailored specifically to your professional self. Or publish listicles on your blog that you haven’t updated in months because you haven’t felt like anyone needs to hear anything you have to say. You’re wrong!
4. Make Food.
This is a highly creative and scientific endeavor people are increasingly shrugging off in favor of delivery apps and trendy meal prep services. Choose brain foods like spinach, eggs, nuts, dark chocolate, and berries, berries, berries. Use more spices. Light up your taste buds, and your brain will follow. Try a food you’ve never had before, and consider that this is what it will be like to step into a new job. Don’t know how to prepare it? Look it up online. At some point, you have to put it in the pan and monitor it, hoping for the best. When you taste it, you’ll realize what you could have done differently. More salt, less water? Maybe the taste will grow on you. Maybe you’ll realize you actually hate eggplant. But that’s okay too. The more you know.
Surprise! Cooking for yourself is a singularly rewarding effort that you may be missing from your day-in-day-out job search process. Experiment with off-roading from a recipe to make it something you’ll enjoy. This is a way to learn more about yourself, and a step towards gaining the confidence to step into the unfamiliar.
5. Watch Some F-ing T.V.
I maintain that at a certain point in the exhausting process of finding sustainable work, your brain is full of farts and not much else. Let it wander over some silly plot line. Gain some perspective. Make yourself laugh.
Also, consider choosing your entertainment based on the jobs you’re seeking. Watching Mad Men single-handedly made me realize I could possibly apply my creative writing skills to copywriting. Watching The Office may make the whole office-job search seem a little less daunting. If those clowns can do it…
But also, know when to stop. A few shows in the middle of your day is giving your mind a break. Starting each day watching your stories may turn into the entire day flipping through Netflix for something new to binge. I’ve been there. You’re not home for a sick day from school. It’s not a snow day. It’s a day that you’re not working.
Once that becomes too stressful of a reminder, rinse and repeat. And visit your shrink.