Hunting for a job is almost always difficult. So it's unfortunate that the truism that good things happen to optimistic people cannot be overstated when it comes to job hunting.

Of course, I've had my share of announcing to the world there were no jobs for me and sleeping until mid-afternoon. But experience with misery breeds experience with how to beat it, and here is a list of things I have found helpful to do when the job hunt starts feeling desperate:

1. Check your attitude.
Write a list of things that are going well in your life. You are not your job, and you are not your savings account. There are many facets to yourself and some remain unscathed, even during a terrible job hunt. Don't just think the list. Writing is a powerful tool, because whatever you take the time to write will feel more important to you than if you just thought about it. In fact, you should write a list of your personality traits that you like, too.

2. Check your focus.
Decide if you are looking for the right kind of job. If you are applying to tons of jobs and not getting them, think about if your resume stands out enough to get a job in this field. Be honest. After applying to 200 jobs and not getting one interview, it's safe to say that you need to change what you're doing. Ask for outside advice to figure out if you need a new resume or a new field. Start with friends and colleagues. If no one gives you new insight, hire a professional. Resume consultants are everywhere, and good ones end up giving career advice when a resume is obviously going nowhere.

3. Check your pace.
If you have a strong network, set a goal of three networking opportunities each week. They can be a lunch, a conference, even a coffee break as long as you're meeting someone who might be able to help. If you are not particularly good at networking, you'll have to rely on your resume. So send it out as often as you can. One resume a day would be a reasonable goal. If you can't find a job to apply to, send a resume, cold, to the CEO of a company you like. You never know what will happen from a shot in the dark like that, but if you send nothing, then you do know what will happen: Nothing.

4. Check your personal life.
Don't forget to see your friends. Don't forget to kiss your boyfriend. It's always easier to retreat into misery when you're in the midst of a job hunt. But you need a home base, so stay connected to the people who provide one. These are people who love you even when you are living off your retirement savings.

5. Check your spending.
You can get a lot more time for your hunt if you keep your spending down. The faster you run out of money the faster your hunt is over — and you don't want to be in a bind where you have to take the only position you can find, and it entails flipping burgers. Also, if you can keep your spending down permanently, you open yourself up to opportunities that are a good next step for your career but require a cut in pay.

6. Turn off the TV and read.
One of the hardest parts of unemployment is the lack of intellectual stimulation. Spending a lot of the time in front of a TV reinforces your feelings of doing nothing. Networking is a pain, rewriting your resume to fit each job opening is monotonous. Read books that have new ideas. Try something that stretches you; gaining new knowledge is one of the best antidotes to feeling stuck.

7 replies
  1. Heather Rose Russell
    Heather Rose Russell says:

    Re #5:
    I had the good fortune of being able to use a Career centre where the use of the fax was free. Also, if you have high-speed email, there’s no expenses with stamps and envelopes involved there, either. And most companies have either a fax number or an email address or both. Plus, if you attach your resume to your email as a MS Word document, instead of mailing it the traditional way, that’s another feather in your cap, because the employer sees you as “up” on technology. It worked for me. I’ve been in this office job for two and a half months and I just love it.

  2. Heather Rose Russell
    Heather Rose Russell says:

    Re #3: It worked for me — I learned about cold calling (tapping the hidden job market) in a job hunting seminar, and I tried it with several companies. The job I am currently working at was one of those I cold-called in February, got two interviews with (one in April, the other in May), then got the job on June 30.

  3. Cat
    Cat says:

    “Of course, I've had my share of announcing to the world there were no jobs for me and sleeping until mid-afternoon.”

    Is that the hole I’m in or what! Didn’t think I’d read it somewhere else!

  4. Emprestimo Pessoal
    Emprestimo Pessoal says:

    Thanks for the good advice! I am looking for a job again, I think that the main thing is to be fast in searching on the internet and sending CV’s. Then the interviews come and you can get a job!

  5. Layla
    Layla says:

    Bahaha and when that doesn’t work?

    My next strategy is going to be wear a push-up bra, pull my shirt down, slap on tons of makeup, and pretend I’m a sorority girl. Who knew it was this hard to get a job at a restaurant or a shop.

    Sorry, just frustrated. I understand your blog post is for people who are past where I am now and trying to get a job that doesn’t suck and isn’t for only 3 months.

    • Layla
      Layla says:

      “in a bind where you have to take the only position you can find, and it entails flipping burgers”

      I find that insulting because you make it sound like someone can get a job flipping burgers without luck.

      Sorry I suppose I’m not following the “check your spending” one but one has to get drunk once in a while when one can’t find a job anywhere because the economy sucks and they’re not a sorority girl with a perfect figure and charisma.

      • Layla
        Layla says:

        There was no need for me to add my pessimism to this blog. It doesn’t have a delete button, so I can’t delete it, but you’re welcome to delete my comments. I’d rather spread nice things not mean things.

        Here’s a picture I found on the internet of two kittens cuddling. I hope it makes up for the angry comments.

        http://mysterku.blox.pl/resource/kitten_kiss.jpg

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