Lessons Learned: The Job Hunt
I’ve been on the job hunt for a lot longer than I’d like to admit, but I have learned more in the past two weeks than I have during this entire journey. So take it from me and follow these important tips!
1. Always apply for the job you that interests you even if you don't think you're qualified.
This seems like a no-brainer, especially when you consider there’s absolutely no financial cost to submitting an online job application. (Anyone else remember those days when you had to buy stamps and mail resumes?) It’s not like applying for every college or university on your wish list which could easily break the bank at an average of $50 each (I’m not calling out my niece with this one, or am I?!).
Feeling like you don’t have all the experience required for the “dream job” could keep you from applying. This is the time to remember Shakespeare:
“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we might oft win by fearing to attempt.”
Early on I let the self-doubts keep me sending off my resume because either I was intimidated by a job title or worried that I didn’t have all the experience required. I realize now that even if I probably wouldn’t get the job, maybe I could have at least gotten an interview and would have gladly taken that time to build relationships with people in the company. I strongly believe that every conversation is valuable and has the potential to lead to useful dialogue, personal connections, and the opportunity for growth.
It's also worth applying for jobs that are in different areas of the country even if they aren't considering remote employees and you're not sure if moving is feasible. Once again, you never know where a phone call can take you. Put yourself out there and send your resume to any position that appeals to you even if it might not initially seem like a realistic option.
Another exercise to consider is expanding your reach by applying for jobs you aren’t entirely sure you’d want. And, never turn down an interview. I’ve ended up having interviews for jobs I’ve either been overqualified for or that were with companies that I hadn’t initially considered to be on the “OMG I want to work there!” list. Each time I came away learning something about myself that helped me fine-tune my pitch to potential employers and expand my career goals.
2. Always start the day with a walk or run before turning on your computer or checking your phone for notifications and emails.
I’ve been a long distance runner since 2007, but I’ve always been an avid walker since my college days. I didn’t own a car until I was in my 30s because I prefer to walk than drive. Some people come up with great ideas in the shower, but I have my best thoughts while I’m taking a leisurely neighborhood stroll or enjoying a long run. There had been many days when I was planning on a run, but would check my email or turn on my computer to then get sucked into the job hunt or other projects and never get out the door. Once I decided that I couldn’t look at my phone until I went for my daily walk or run, I started having a better attitude all around.
3. Cultivate optimism on a daily basis.
Create a virtual bank overflowing with items that makes you smile, laugh, or feel hopeful, i.e., songs, photos, cartoons, etc. Rejection is no joke and sometimes the only way to turn that frown upside down is to listen to a pop song or look at a photo of the people that really matter in your life. Having a playlist of tunes that makes me want to dance and content/media that always makes me laugh has been lifesaver for me. My twin sister has been keeping a daily gratitude journal after attending Cultivating Optimism with Deena Kastor. I can’t quite get myself into that routine just yet, but what has been easier for me is to make a positivity playlist or add to my Instagram story highlight featuring my favorite humor.
Another tip: Keep a list of all the unique questions asked during interviews. Work on fine-tuning your answers in case they are ever asked again. If not, find a way to use those answers you've perfected into the conversation!
Read more about my job search: "Available for Work."
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