Cut Your Job-seeking Time in Half: 6 Ways to Stay Positive
Job seeking may not make the list of life’s top 10 most stressful events (though being fired does), but it should.
Anyone who’s ever had to look for a new job knows that there is nothing more guaranteed to sap your self-confidence and induce panic than job hunting, and its the effects are cumulative and exponential: Weeks 1-4 of a job hunt are tolerable, but by Week 8, even the most confident, optimistic and employable of us can find ourselves filling out applications for part-time minimum-wage positions at local fast-food restaurants, or leaving “Please, I’m desperate, I’ll take anything! Call me! Please!” voicemails for recruiters.
Neither of which is likely to further your career goals.
Desperation is a buzzkill
Remember in high school, when the ‘cool, popular’ kids were the ones who didn’t seem to care whether anyone liked them or not, while the ‘losers’ were the ones who seemed needy and too eager to make friends?
The job market is like that: The more desperate you seem, the less attractive you are to potential employers, because it makes them wonder why you haven’t been able to get a job (“This candidate seems desperate, which tells me she’s been looking for a job for a while now. If she hasn’t been hired by now, there must be something really wrong with her. I think I’ll just take a pass on this one.”).
In other words, the longer you can keep your (very natural) feelings of panic and desperation out of your interactions with recruiters and potential employers, the more successful your job hunt will be.
A positive attitude will take weeks off your job-seeking time.
Confident, positive, optimistic people write better resumes, cover letters, and applications; they have better interactions with people; and they perform better in interviews than people who are discouraged, negative or pessimistic. (Remember, the interview is really just an opportunity for the potential employer to answer the question “Would I like to work with this person on a daily basis for the next few years?” As in high school, most people would rather work with the ‘cool, popular’ people.)
It’s a simple equation:
Better resumes and applications lead to more interviews.
Better interviews lead to more second interviews.
Better second interviews lead to more job offers, faster.
The good news? You don’t have to wait around until you start to feel more positive – just fake it til you feel it!
Practical tips for maintaining – or just faking – a positive job-hunting attitude.
1. Before you write your resume or send out the first application, make a commitment to yourself: “Self, I know the next few weeks are going to be difficult, and we’ll have to endure a fair amount of rejection. But we’re not going to take it personally, we’re not going to let it affect our confidence, and we’re not going to obsess about it.” (You may want to watch this Affirmation Girl video for inspiration!)
2. Don’t apply for jobs unless you really would be a perfect fit. Sending out 150 applications without getting a single callback is a bullet train to despair – you start to wonder if you even exist. But think about it: Were you really a ‘perfect fit’ for all of those jobs? Or just 3 of them?
3. Go for quality, not quantity. One really fantastic, customized resume and cover letter for a job for which you’d be a perfect fit is more likely to get you a callback than 50 generic, copy-and-paste applications. Remember: Most recruiters and hiring managers see hundreds of resumes every week – the applicants who get callbacks are the ones who stand out from the crowd. And the higher your response rate, the more positive you’ll feel!
4. Work smarter, not harder. Stay organized! Create a file on your desktop for all the cover letters, cover emails, and customized resumes you’ve done, so that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. Schedule follow-up activities in your calendar – having something scheduled, even if it’s just a follow-up email to a recruiter, will help you feel like you have something productive to get out of bed for every morning.
5. Don’t announce you’re unemployed in the first sentence. This is for 2 reasons: (1) As the Huffington Post recently reported, more US organizations aren’t accepting applications from unemployed candidates. The reasoning is related to #2 and #3, above: Unemployed people get desperate and apply to hundreds of jobs; employers end up spending a whole lot of time and money weeding through the ‘duds’ just to get to the handful who are actually qualified. And (2) you want to get recruiters and potential employers excited about you before they wonder whether you were in fact laid off for purely economic reasons. It’s hard to have positive interactions with recruiters and hiring managers if the conversation starts with a recap of your (probably painful, possibly messy) recent layoff.
(TIP: You don’t have to include the month you were laid off on your resume. Just use the year, so it’s not immediately obvious that you’ve been out of work for 2 months. When the recruiter or hiring manager calls you for an interview, you can explain the details then.)
6. Allow yourself to have some fun, especially with family and friends. Remember, ‘unemployed’ is just another word for ‘vacation’! Yes, you should be spending at least 4 hours a day on job-seeking-related activities, but being unemployed means you finally have more time to spend with friends and family (“Sure, I’d love to spend the weekend with you, Sis – this is the first time in ages I haven’t had to spend the whole weekend catching up on my PowerPoint presentations, so we can have a nice long visit!”) – who also happen to be your best weapon in the war against negativity due to job-seeking rejection!
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For more information on navigating your next IT career move, check out our Guide to Finding the Perfect Tech Job.