Have you been searching the job market for months without much luck? Have you been endlessly lining up for dozens of first-round interviews but not getting any callbacks? I’ve been there. As a former professional singer, I spent more time looking for a job than actually doing a job. The seemingly never-ending auditions and casting calls stressed me out and drove me to the edge of burnout. Job search fatigue is not a myth. Whether you’re aiming for a corporate job or creative position, a long job search often leaves us feeling mentally and emotionally exhausted. To be able to climb out of the slump, it’s vital to maintain your cool and confidence throughout this period of uncertainty. Below are ways to deal with a long job search.
1. Maintain the Four F’s
Family, friends, fun, and fitness. Most job seekers might consider these luxuries, thinking that only the uber-wealthy, well-connected, and already successful can truly have it all.
On the contrary, it’s possible for the average person to have a happy, well-balanced life while going through the job hunt phase.
Realistically, you can’t job search 24 hours a day, seven weeks a day. While you might be submitting applications and going on interviews during the day—it’s what you do with your time after job-hunting hours that matters.
Take some time off for yourself. Visit your parents, grab a beer with your friends, watch a movie, or hit the gym. There’s no need to deprive yourself of fun while job hunting. The more you deprive yourself of basic needs, the more stressed you’ll become. You will be better able to focus and perform your job search when you’re in an overall better mood.
2. Keep Learning
American businessman Ezra Cornell said, “Idleness is to the human mind like rust to iron.”
While experiencing a long job search can be emotionally exhausting, you have a luxury most employed people don’t—a lot of free time.
Take this as an opportunity to learn something new or improve on your existing skills. Take a class, sign up for a free seminar, or join an online community of professionals in your industry. When you feel stuck, get busy growing your skill set to feel a sense of moving forward.
According to a study, the sensation of making meaningful progress can boost our mood and improve motivation. So when you’re feeling stuck in a drawn-out job search, propel yourself forward by making personal growth and learning a priority.
3. Start Networking
Networking is vital for job seekers. How many networking events have you gone to this month? How many messages have you sent (via email or LinkedIn) to key job prospects? If you answer “none,” you need to get out there and strut your stuff.
Depending on your personality, networking can either be an exhilarating or dreadful experience. The extroverts of the world can easily schmooze through networking events while introverts may have a harder time.
It is estimated that a whopping 85 percent of jobs are filled through networking. You can go beyond searching for jobs online by attending job fairs, industry events, meet-ups, and other networking opportunities. These will give you the opportunity to make the meaningful connections you need to improve your job search, grow your network, and maybe even discover that elusive “dream job” that is often not posted online.
However, there is still value to online connections. Just make sure to use professional online platforms to build rapport with other industry professionals.
4. Freelance or Find a Bridge Job
They say fatigue is twice as likely to strike when you’re in-between jobs. The looming pressure to pay the bills and rent on time will make even the calmest person panic.
Freelancing or taking on a temporary position can help you avoid professional and financial burn-out. Doing part-time work in the gig economy or as a barista might not be your first choice, but at least you are earning a bit of money that’ll help fund necessary expenses.
Some professionals have the option of freelancing, which can boost your portfolio and occasionally function as a valuable inroad to full time roles.
Regardless of the length of your job search, its key to stay positive, level headed, and focused to get through this time. And when you’re feeling down—remember, nothing last forever.