Reflections On the Job Search Process


Job seeking is a process that everyone undergoes, most of us several times in our lives, whether we are ready for it or not. No one looks forward to it, there is no way it can be described as a fun, rewarding process; quite the contrary, in fact.

Looking for a job, or changing careers is a stressful, unpleasant, humbling and tiring process.

The irony is you must appear upbeat, positive, motivated and exuberant during the process. It’s very much like putting on a mask. You are not allowed the luxury of letting your true feelings show. Like an actor on a stage, you must appear confident, self-assured, motivated and energetic. Keep your true feelings to yourself, you are told.

After a year-long educational program during which I sacrificed a lot, following yet another job search, I’ve had time to reflect on some strategies that help to cope with this process. They worked for me, and hopefully some of these suggestions will work for you as well.

Give yourself permission to feel despair. Feelings of sadness, loss, despair and depression are completely normal. Depression is not a sign of weakness, it is a symptom of having tried to be strong for too long. We are all human beings, and ignoring these feelings does not mean they will simply go away. So, vent them.

Give yourself set periods of time to fully vent these feelings, like emotional exhaust from the internal-emotion engine that is you. Listen to sad music, create art that reflects your mood (an extremely effective method, by the way), feel sorry for yourself. Fully vent these feelings. When that time period is up, take a stinging hot shower, get back to work, and resume the processs. But above all do not give up hope.

Exercise. Regularly. Not a health nut? Don’t worry, you don’t have to be. But get out there and get your heart rate up, and not neccessarily in a gym, with loud music vibrating the fillings in your teeth and perfect bodies all around you in skin-tight Spandex. Take your iPod and your bike, and hit the bike path and let your mind free. Biking is phenomenal, low-impact exercise that not only provides a good workout, but cleanses your spirit as well. Go for a swim, a long walk, a hike through the woods. Get out of your head for awhile. Kick two miles right in the face and gloat to yourself afterwards (“Yeah! In your FACE, two miles!!”) Pushing your body to its limits feels good and the endorphins have a dramatic effect on your mood (disclaimer: see your doctor before beginning any new exercise routine if you have not exercised in awhile).

Ditch negativity. Are there people in your life who are life-energy vampires, who constantly drag you down with negativity? Ditch ‘em. Today. You don’t have the luxury of allowing these types of people in your life. There is too much at stake, and your life-energy is too precious a resource to have it drained by people who won’t support you. I am very choosy about with whom I spend my free time, as you should be. Avoid negative people like the plague. All they will do is drag you down to their level. Do not let them.

Pace yourself. You may have periods where you feel abnormally tired. Do not feel guilty about this; your fatigue is a symptom of the physical demands stress and depression is taking on your body (feelings won’t be ignored, remember?). Take a power nap and recharge. Scraping by on four hours of sleep is self-defeating. Sleep is the body’s way of purging both physiological and psychological toxins. Sleep helps improve your memory, focus, mood and creativity, and helps you to lose weight as well. Your job search will be much more effective if you’re well rested, so lose the guilt and get some sleep.

Network. Constantly. Involve yourself with job seeking benefits offered by your local state and government agencies. Use LinkedIn to find networking events that fit your industry and go to them. Go to, fill out your preferences and go to social events. Not only will you meet interesting new people, you will discover new ideas and opportunities that would not have occurred to you otherwise. Don’t stay home all the time, put yourself out there, live life and socialize. Every day is a gift, people. Don’t waste a single one.

Accomplish something every day. And last, but not least, accomplish at least three things every day. Some days you will feel like dirt on the bottom of life’s boot heel, but do at least three things to move your goal forward, even if they are small things. Start another LinkedIn job search alert. Apply to another job. Find an interesting career article and post it to your LinkedIn timeline so your name stays near the top in your network. Send a connection request. If you do at least three things, even on your worst days (which are perfect days to exercise, by the way) then the day will not have been wasted.

If you do these things, and remain open to new opportunities, something will happen that will put you back to work. It won’t happen if you give up, and where does one go to give up, anyway? Is there a “Give-Up” office at which people register? No. So don’t give up. Pace yourself, live life and accomplish something every day.

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