Job Hunt Blues: Finding That Balance When Searching
It’s easy to lose motivation during the job hunt. But while no-one’s saying to completely stop, accepting the related mental health struggles and finding a balance will help.
Take care of your mental health
Job hunting can be extremely demotivating and make you question your self-worth, capabilities. It will make you feel insecure and uncertain even when seeking positions you’re qualified for.
Sometimes a wake-up call may be necessary. Other times, it’s just another hard reminder that the good life doesn’t come easy.
A study by Connie Wanberg published in The Academy of Management Journal underlines the challenges of finding a job. It’s an “unpredictable process with no rules, no guarantees, no supervision and a huge amount at stake.” A lot of it is self-organised and self-structured; you decide when to search and how often to search.
In the face of rejection, it can be easy to lose sight of your goals. At this point, Wanberg writes that depression, feelings of rejection and a lack of self-worth comes into play.
The study, amongst many others, recommends treating the job search like an actual 9-to-5 job. This simulates a sense of structure (like a real job) and clearly defined goals. However, if you’re running into problems of self-worth, lack of confidence and generally feeling down, using this method can help you find direction.
Find a balance
‘Slugging on’ is one method, but it’s not the method. It seems strange to have to ignore your own well-being during a job search, but then having to use the search itself and the goal of finding a job to improve it.
To clarify: perseverance is a fantastic personal trait to have. That’s what ‘slugging on’ means. However, the most important thing is balance.
Balance is the ability to tell yourself when enough is enough. Balance is pushing yourself to change activity, introduce diversity in your routine and, ultimately, come back fresh to the main task at hand.
This doesn’t mean stopping the job hunt for today and moving on to TV shows. It can mean that, for you. It can also mean finding and engaging in activities that will benefit your job hunt in the long term.
For example, instead of filling out applications and going through web listings for the whole day, dedicate some time to networking, to improving your social network profiles, to branding yourself by updating your CV.
As long as you’re constantly moving in the direction of improvement, you’re being productive and working towards your job hunt. This can also mean finding an activity that you can fully engage in besides job hunting. Take this as a time of healing and a boost to the job search.
Don’t assume that if you’re not filling applications 100% of the time, you’re not being productive. Widen your perspective on productivity.
A concept popularised by Reddit user “ryans01”, the term ‘non-zero days’ means days where you do something – anything – towards your own self-improvement. The idea is that if you purposefully avoid ever having a ‘zero’ day, you’re doing alright. It’s heavily linked to the process of finding a balance; it widens your understanding of what can be perceived as productive by breaking down how you categorise activities.
This doesn’t mean that you have to fill in 50 applications in one day. Rather, it’s about making sure that you contribute in any way to your goal. Getting your material ready for an application, writing one sentence of a cover letter… all of this counts.
Be grateful to the three Yous. There’s the past, present and future You. Be grateful for what the past You has done for the present You, and carry that gesture over to the future You. In other words, build a cycle of productivity that is based on continuing it.
Forgive yourself. Don’t be too hard on yourself for what you didn’t do. By picturing things in past, present and future Yous, it becomes easier to understand that, while it may be true that the past You was not productive, the present You can be.
It’s really that simple. Run, lift weights, swim, do some jumping jacks in your room. Get the blood pumping and the endorphins flowing. It will help keep you moving in what could be a very sedentary period of your life, as well as give you day-to-day purpose.
It’s important to have a systematic approach during the job hunt, but this also includes having a system for cooling yourself down. As such, find a balanced lifestyle where you can be productive in the job hunt as well as outside it, and make sure to do something towards your goal every day, no matter how big or small.