Looking for jobs right now is HARD.
Really, it’s exhausting.
In the beginning, perhaps you felt hopeful. This was your chance for a fresh start and a welcomed change of pace. Or maybe you were let go unexpectedly and found yourself fighting to stay afloat and keep your unemployment benefits. Regardless, after months of job searching, it’s easy to burn out from stress. Your mental health becomes strained as you watch your prospects dwindle while others around you seem to find work with ease. At least, it seems that way. But you’re not alone.
Seriously, I can’t even begin to count the number of jobs that have ghosted me after an interview. You’d think they’d have the curtesy and professionalism to send a rejection email after receiving my follow-up message. But, alas, they do not. Every job I apply to either ignores me or rejects me with an automated message. Ouch. Right in the self-esteem.
It seems like a college degree isn’t even enough to get an entry-level position anymore. The number of students who have felt pressured to earn an overpriced diploma after high school is astronomical. Most have taken on massive amounts of debt only to struggle to land decent-earning jobs. You’re almost better off pursuing a trade or specialized certification if you can’t afford to pursue higher education after four years of studies. But, even then, I know people who have earned their masters or PhD who are still having difficulties finding employment in this economy. The pandemic has turned everything upside down.
Before the coronavirus struck, I was teaching English to elementary school students abroad. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but it was fun working with the kids and helping teachers refine their lesson plans. Plus, I made good money and enjoyed traveling on the weekends. It was a solid gig, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, I had to return to the States in April of 2020 as the coronavirus situation worsened. The decision was one of the hardest I’ve ever made, but I feared once my contract expired in July I’d be stranded abroad with no way to return home. I was also just incredibly anxious because I feared some of my older family members may get sick and pass without me being there. Additionally, I have asthma and was scared I’d get seriously ill while overseas.
Since returning home, I’ve worked one seasonal job in retail and helped out with my family’s business operating an event venue. But no company will hire me on for anything professional or salaried. To fill the gaps in my resume, I’ve applied to internships, worked a seasonal retail job, learned new skills using Skillshare, started a podcast, and opened the doors to my photography business. Maybe right now, it’s not enough, but eventually I’m sure something will work out. The opportunities I’ve applied for just haven’t been right for me. One job I desperately wanted ghosted me after the third and final interview; it was devastating. Especially since the hiring process lasted for several months. But, I found out a few months later the woman they hired instead of me quit because the work environment was so toxic. She left a horrible review online and quit after only three months. There are reasons behind certain outcomes we don’t entirely understand. Had I been selected for that role, I’m sure I would have been absolutely miserable. Eventually, the right opportunity will come along. I just have to practice patience.
If you’re in a similar boat to me, don’t give up. There are many times where I feel so defeated and want to quit, but I keep assuring myself and staying the course.
Trust me, I am encouraging myself just as much as I am trying to encourage you, because sometimes I don’t want to do this anymore. It would be so much easier that way. But there are bills to pay and goals I aspire to achieve. My dreams are too big to let setbacks derail me indefinitely. And so are yours.
Here’s how I avoid job-search burnout while keeping my spirits from crashing into the metaphorical sea of despair:
- Practice daily affirmations and trust the process. I tell myself every day “the right opportunity is waiting for me.” If I continue applying for jobs, working hard, and consulting with my mentors, then I fully believe the right door will open when it’s meant to. You can practice affirmations in the form of prayer if you’re religious, or you can put your belief in the universe. If you’re more logical and less spiritual, accept that life is a series of ups and downs. It’s statistically unlikely you will stay in a rut forever.
- Schedule time each day for rest and relaxation. It won’t do me any good to be exhausted and overwhelmed all the time. I may need to apply for something quickly. If I’m fully recharged it’ll be much easier to polish off that cover letter or update my portfolio in a pinch. Plus, practicing self-care helps keep our mental health in check. It can be very easy to get discouraged, depressed, and anxious during a long job search. Prioritizing mental health is so important to prevent this. Between applying for jobs and working on my other creative pursuits, I like to go hiking with my pup to relieve stress. And sometimes, I just take a whole day to relax. There’s no shame in that!
- Keep negative self-talk in check. Calling yourself a failure won’t make you successful. It will only lower your confidence even further. It’s easy to beat ourselves up when we feel down. I know I’ve told myself way too many times that I’m stupid, lazy, or just not good enough for the roles I wanted. However, telling ourselves these things will only make us more likely to take on the negative traits we described. We may stop applying for jobs because we believe we’ll be rejected, so why bother? When you catch yourself making these negative statements, pause for a moment. Allow yourself to feel sad and discouraged, but then tell yourself something positive to combat those feelings and keep them from dragging you down indefinitely.
- Remind yourself of your victories and successes. I try to do one thing each day I can be proud of. Even if it’s something small like organizing the spices in the pantry or making my bed. Small victories are still worth celebrating. I also mentally remind myself of all the jobs I have been accepted for in the past. Just because things aren’t working out now doesn’t mean they never will. After all, if I earned something before, nothing can stop me from succeeding again.
- Practice daily gratitude. It’s easy to take the little things for granted when we are lacking something we desperately want or need. Every day, I try to remind myself to be grateful for having a roof over my head, a family who loves me, my pets, and food on the table. I acknowledge that so many people have it much worse than me right now. This isn’t to say my feelings or experiences are invalid, though. We can still allow ourselves to feel down about the cards we’ve been dealt and acknowledge our pain. However, it’s best if we try to find something positive to reflect on as well even if it’s small. Practicing daily gratitude is also beneficial for our mental wellbeing.
As you continue your job search, I hope these tips help you feel a bit more rejuvenated. Never feel bad for prioritizing yourself first. Trust that good things are coming because I believe in your abilities just as much as I believe in mine. We’ve got this! Thank you so much for listening or reading, and I hope you have a great day!