Searching for a job can be one of our most stressful undertakings. A job search requires extensive preparation—from deciding where you want to work and what you want to do with all those countless hours, to figuring out what shoes to wear for the interview you have next Tuesday. Ultimately, your time, resources, and energy are quickly consumed, leaving little left for self-care. Here are some tips on managing the stress of your job search so that you can easily reach your goals.
1. Eat Healthy, Exercise & Get Sleep
Maslow was on to something when he said that basic needs must be met first. It’s my belief that if you are stressed out and not taking care of your mind and body, then your job search is going to be more difficult. Research has shown that sleep can increase levels of creative problem-solving, improve memory, and decrease stress. So don’t stay up into the wee hours writing your resume or scrolling endlessly on Twitter. Instead, create a schedule that allows you to get enough sleep to feel rested and alert for whatever might be thrown at you during the job search process. Moreover, pay attention to what you eat; find foods that reenergize your mind and body. As for exercise, just a quick walk can help clear your mind and reduce stress. By taking care of these basic needs, you will be more productive. And you are likely to be in a better mood overall, so that when you network, you’ll make a positive impression!
2. Re-frame Your Problems
Maybe finding the perfect job isn’t your problem—or, at least, it isn’t the problem for you to be focused on right now. Perhaps what you really want is to look for a situation that will provide you with experience in technology or offer you the chance to take on projects independently. If you find that you’re looking at your job search as one big problem that needs solving, break it down into smaller, digestible pieces. Bottom line: if the job search is dragging you down, you many need to change the way you think about it.
3. Make Downward Comparisons
Now is the not the time to think about what you don’t have, but rather reflect on all that you’ve accomplished. Think of it this way: Approximately 70% of people in the U.S. between the ages of 25-64 have not earned a Bachelor’s degree. Furthermore, research shows that full-time workers age 25 and over had median weekly earnings of $700 for high school graduates with no college ($36,400 annually) compared to $1,266 for those holding at least a Bachelor’s degree ($65,832). If you find yourself making many upward comparisons, as Taylor Swift so gracefully put it, “Shake it off.” It’s time to reflect on your accomplishments and move forward knowing that you already have a strong competitive advantage.
If your job search is taking longer than expected, you can and should volunteer—it’s a great way to channel your time and energy into something productive and positive. Volunteering will make you and others feel good—it’s an easy win/win. Also, any potential gaps in your employment history can be filled in with community involvement experience, which is something many employers strongly value and want to see on your resume. Volunteering can also help you develop new skills, build your network, explore career paths…do I need to go on? Just go find an organization that you’d like to help out and give them a call!
5. Stay Confident by Doing Your Homework
If you feel a lack of confidence creeping in, it may be time for a pep talk—to yourself. Review your resume, your academic accomplishments, your skill sets. If you really believe that there is a gap in your skills, try taking a quick course on Lynda.com (which you can access for free as a UGA student) or pick up a book on that subject. Note that there are many factors that employers consider, some substantive, others a matter of etiquette. Ask yourself: How did I dress for the interview? Was I knowledgeable about their company? Did I ask thoughtful questions? Did I smile? Did I send a thank-you note after the interview? All of these are hiring considerations, and you have time to prepare for them in advance. By doing your due diligence now, you will build the confidence you need when it comes to interviewing or, later on, negotiating your salary.
6. Ask for Help
Sure, you might have asked family and friends to review your application or resume, but have you actually had a professional take a look at it? I’m not talking about a professor, either, but a bona fide career services professional, one who does this work for a living? The UGA Career Center has a team of Career Consultants happy to help you with your job search goals. We have insight into career trends, we know what recruiters are looking for, and we can offer specific tips for job searching in different industries. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from our team!
Your visit to us will confirm that you know what you are doing, or we will teach you what to do differently. Don’t hover at some internet site waiting day after day for some unknown potential employer to call you and say, “Hey, we think you’re great. When can you start?” It doesn’t work that way, ever!