Telling you that it’s “tough out there” is a bit like saying the sun’s hot or that the Kardashians love attention—it’s self-evident, particularly if you’ve been hunting for a job and are tired of the endless rounds of leads and interviews that never seem to go anywhere.
Like Elmer Fudd tracking Bugs Bunny or Wile E. Coyote chasing down that sneaky Road Runner, always being the pursuer and never getting your mitts on the prize is pretty exhausting. How do you keep going in the face of constant rejection?
Here are a handful of ways to keep yourself together during even the cruelest job hunt.
It’s Only Personal When You Make it Personal
Get told “no” enough times, and it’s only natural to start thinking that something’s wrong with you. You wonder what others have that you don’t. You wonder what you’re lacking that others aren’t. You wonder what you need to fix that others don’t. In other words, you make it personal.
There are all kinds of reasons you might not get a job. Maybe someone else ticked more boxes than you. Maybe the position was filled by an internal candidate. Maybe your interviewer had an off day, which tainted his or her opinion of you during the interview.
After experiencing rejection, it’s tempting to answer the question “why?” by blaming yourself. But that only serves to diminish your self-confidence and make you second-guess your next move. That kind of judgment ignores the fact that, as humans, we’re all works in progress with all kinds of strengths and weaknesses, and we’re all continually developing and learning. Long may that continue.
Hearing “no” isn’t a judgment about who you are. It’s just something that happens. What really matters and what shapes your experience is how you respond when it happens.
It’s a Process
You don’t get to the end of your street without leaving your front door first. You don’t write a novel without first writing “chapter one” at the top of a blank page. And you don’t land a new job without going through the process of landing a new job.
That might mean getting a hundred rejections, or it might mean getting three. You may need you to widen your search or get creative about how you sell yourself. You may need to take advantage of your network or even take a leap of faith and apply for something completely out of the box.
The point is, you’ll never get to 100% without going all the way from zero to 99% first. Know that searching for a job is a process, and commit to taking meaningful steps to guide you through that process.
People Do Extraordinary Things
Things might be tough right now, but the fact that you’ve come this far counts for something. It means you’ve encountered tough times and grappled with difficult circumstances, and you’ve found a way through. It means you’ve been low, but you’ve survived.
Consider this just another test that the universe has put in front of you to see what you’re made of. That means you have a choice to make—a choice to either stand tall and embrace the challenge in front of you (even if you’d rather be anywhere else), or to hang your head and stop trying.
People do extraordinary things every single day, but perhaps the most extraordinary is the choice to continue putting one foot in front of the other because the alternative isn’t who you want to be.
Take Care of the Basics
A long job search can take its toll. You get tired. Sometimes sick and tired. Your finances take a hit—sometimes severely so. You lose faith. Sometimes hope goes missing, too.
It’s easy to let things slide when you’re worn down, but you have to take care of the basics.
Keep your head nourished with continual learning that sparks your mind and bends your thinking. Nourish your body by prioritizing proper rest, exercise, and healthy eating. And nourish your heart by doing things that make you feel like you—like spending time with loved ones, laughing with friends, being in nature, listening to your favorite music, or offering help to someone in need.
Equally important is being responsible enough to stop your finances from hemorrhaging. Don’t ignore a worsening financial situation; suck it up and deal with it. Look at how you can downsize or consider getting a short-term job to keep your finances ticking while you keep looking for something long-term.
You’re responsible for these basics, and owning them will only serve you well.
Don’t Do it Alone
An unexpected impact of a long, tough job hunt can be isolation—feeling distant and alone in your struggles while your friends and family go on with their regular lives.
An important part of finding your way through the job hunt is realizing that you don’t have to do it alone. Whether it’s confiding in a friend, venting to your partner, or letting someone help you out, it’s vital to not make yourself an island.
This could be as simple as asking for a hug. Or maybe you can get some outside input on your resume. You might want to bounce some cover letter ideas around with a couple of friends or an old colleague. Maybe ask someone to facilitate an introduction. Try seeing a career advisor, or if you’re feeling really low, make an appointment with a professional who may be able to help you.
There are people willing to support you and help you and want to see you soar. Whatever you do, don’t cut yourself off from them.
If you’re in the middle of what feels like a cruel job hunt, I have one last thought to leave you with: When you wake up each morning, ask yourself, “What’s my intention today?”
It’s a deceptively simple question on the surface, but asking yourself this at the start of the day can help you dig deep, hang on a while longer, and, perhaps most importantly, go easy on yourself.