5 Ways to Stay Confident During a Job Hunt // Adriana Lasso-Harrier
Written by Adriana Lasso-Harrier + Edited by Chelsea DuDeVoire
The job hunting process— while a necessary and often positive part of an enriching life— can be (and usually is) an incredibly stressful experience. There are countless self-help books covering how to find a job, but rarely does one find methods of coping with the anxieties and doubts that are almost guaranteed to crop up during the hunt. Below are five stress-beating tips to help maintain your confidence in the weeks or months of résumé-writing and interviewing.
1. Take a break from social media.
Sitting in your dark, messy apartment, endlessly scrolling through other people’s lives that just seem so much more together than yours is the worst. Stop, take a deep breath, and consider the fact that in general, Facebook and Instagram posts only highlight... the highlights. What you see on your screen is never the whole story, but rather an instantaneous, often heavily-edited view into a single moment of a far more complex situation. This is not to suggest that something sinister lurks behind every perfect latte snapshot, self-congratulatory Facebook status, or rowdy group photo— often these are truly happy moments being shared with the world. However, it is important to remember that your friends on social media—like yourself— only make public the good parts of their life and opt to confront their personal struggles in private. Escape the beguiling echo chamber of social media and disable your accounts during the job search process. Now is the time to focus on yourself and your own realities—not the selectively constructed ones of other people.
2. Pace yourself.
The thing about applying to jobs is that it is almost a full-time job in itself— and one that is incredibly repetitive, mind-numbing, and often disappointing. Take a break from filling out your address and phone number on your ninth application of the day or editing your cover letter for the dozenth time, and find a pastime that stimulates your own unique, brilliant mind. Has there been a skill that you’ve always wanted to pick up but could never find the energy or time for? Perhaps you’ve wanted to learn to code, or have long admired watercolor painting and wished to try your hand at it. Now is the time to develop new skills along with your professional goals! The added benefit of embracing a new pastime or strengthening a skill is that it has the potential to widen the array of jobs that you could qualify for. Who knows, perhaps in a few years you will take yourself by surprise and see your hobby blossom into the meaningful career you have been searching for. If picking up a new skill sounds like entirely too much to you right now, think of other ways to keep your brain active and stay inspired. Read a book on an interesting and foreign topic, visit a museum, surround yourself with ideas that spark something within you and motivate you to keep going.
3. Create— and stick to—an exercise routine.
Exercise can be a wonderful tool for self-love. Not only is it one of the best things you can do for your physical health, it also works wonders to improve feelings of depression, anxiety, and isolation. If you are fortunate enough to have access to a gym or yoga studio, try to make good use of these places during your job hunt. There are also a plethora of cheap or completely free options for staying fit: cultivate an at-home yoga practice by following along with free tutorials online, or lace up a pair of running shoes and head to your local park. Opting to challenge yourself physically will force you to stay entirely in the present moment -it’s difficult to think of anything else when you’re covered in sweat and your muscles are screaming- and you may find that the determination and drive you bring to your workouts will help you in your job search, and vice versa.
4. Go outside.
It can easily happen: you spend hours indoors, in front of your computer, researching companies and crafting intelligent responses to application questions. Before you know it, an entire day has slipped by without you once stepping foot outside your door. Going out, even just for a short walk, might be one of the most critical things you can do for yourself during a difficult and lengthy job search. The simple excellence of fresh air and sunshine cannot be overstated, nor can the importance of creating distance between yourself and your work. Head outdoors at least once a day. Admire your neighborhood, exclaim over flowers or fallen leaves, practice walking meditation, sit on a park bench and remind yourself that a vibrant world exists that can be held separate from the seemingly endless swirl of job applications you have to complete.
5. Be gentle with yourself.
The job process often can feel interminable. You may go weeks or even longer without positive response, and it may feel as if you’re sending your résumé into a black hole with each press of the “submit” button. Cultural standards associate self-worth and social capital with employment and thus it can be extremely difficult to not feel worry, shame, self-doubt, depression, or a whole host of other negative feelings during this time. This is perfectly understandable and natural, but it is crucial that you remain kind and gentle towards yourself. Practicing self-care, both through the actions listed previously in this article and through compassionate, loving self-talk, is absolutely key throughout the trying job search process (and also throughout life itself.) Make a list of things you love about yourself or that you are good at. Reach out to loved ones and ask them what they most love about you. Do something that you had previously thought you weren’t capable of doing. Cook yourself a delicious meal. Above all, keep in mind your human-ness, and be tender with yourself.
Adriana Lasso-Harrier is a writer and a native of Boston. A recent transplant to Seattle, she knows just how challenging the job search can be, particularly for new grads. She loves exploring cities, drinking chai lattes, and curling up with a good novel.