Searching for a job can be emotionally exhausting. You send in dozens of applications and resumes and the response is a “deafening silence”. Then you finally get an interview and you think it went well, you get excited, and you never hear back. It is often a lonely and frustrating emotional roller coaster, and it is difficult to project an “upbeat attitude” when you feel discouraged. Here are some of the common challenges in the job search process and ways to cope with them.
#1: Loneliness: Searching for a job is a fulltime pursuit and much of the work i.e. research, online promoting, updating your Linkedin profile, completing applications, requesting recommendations, asking for informational interviews, and creating and sending resumes and introduction letters are solo tasks. In addition, if your family is off to work and school, you are sitting there home alone facing all these overwhelming projects. It really helps to break up the day and do some of your work at coffee shops. It also helps to join career support groups that meet weekly so that you don’t feel so alone. Even better, pair up with a buddy who is also job searching. Get involved in community groups, volunteer for non-profits, and attend job fairs, and alum groups. Network with everyone you meet and let them know what kind of job you are searching for.
#2. Depression: If you have been unemployed for a long time, it is easy to fall into a “clinical depression” where you aren’t functioning very well and find it difficult to even do the job search. If you have a mild depression, aerobic exercise, emotional support, the tips from #1, and good nutrition can help you get back on track. If it is more severe, it is critical to see a therapist and consider medication.
#3. Lack of Confidence: If you have worked for one company for many years, it can be difficult to imagine yourself in another company or other industry. If you have been out of the work world taking care of children, parents, or recovering from an illness it can be unnerving to think of how to promote yourself. If you are changing careers or if you are over 50, you might be wondering how you can sell yourself effectively. And maybe you have never before had to apply and promote yourself for a job before because jobs have always landed in your lap. That can make the process feel intimidating. In these situations, it is important to get guidance from a career center or a career coach. They will walk you through the search process and help you understand how it works in 2014. The process has changed fairly dramatically in the past 10 years.
#4. Procrastination: I think it is difficult for many people to identify their strengths, their career accomplishments, their branding statements, and to ask for recommendations and informational interviews. It is easy to get over-whelmed and start distracting yourself with Facebook, eating, TV, cleaning—anything! You may need to ask for help in some of these areas. Look to a family member, a good friend, colleague, career coach, or your job search buddy. It is also helpful to have a schedule for each day: get up early, eat a good breakfast, exercise, and have a to-do list that includes research, reaching out online, meeting people for coffee, following up, and tailoring your resume for specific positions.
In Summary: You can’t do it alone! Reach out to people for connection, support, and direction. Schedule your days. Take care of your body. Set goals. Have someone hold you accountable. Look at your past accomplishments, share them with someone, revel in them—believe in yourself- let others see how much you have to offer.
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