Job Search Nonsense

If we put aside the super-hero act for a moment, a typical day on the job searching treadmill usually goes something like this…….. You get up early, check email, check your schedule then do a quick scan of the job boards.  This is followed by a visit to your favourite recruitment and networking sites.  Perhaps then you’ll read the employment section in the local paper, if it’s that day of the week. After this initial flurry of activity there’s usually a moment’s pause to reflect on what you’ve just achieved. Then you wonder how to spend the remaining 7 hours and 53 minutes of the working day. Sound familiar?

Other job search days are different. You might have a call, an interview or something else you worked hard to set up but even on the busier days it’s hard to do a full 8 hour-day on the job search.

So why do we do it to ourselves?  Why do we pile on the pressure and harbour the negative feelings we’re letting ourselves and everyone else down?  There are plenty of good reasons to want a job search to be over but there’s also plenty of unhelpful, unnecessary baggage with no right to be there at all.  I’m talking about the stuff that gets stuck in our heads and has no business being there – thoughts, feelings, unsubstantiated facts and opinions.  I collectively call all of this Job Search Nonsense.

No one is helped by job search nonsense but it’s there all the same. The only way to get over, through or around nonsense like this is to focus on its polar opposite, and the opposite in this case is all the stuff that makes sense. To focus on anything and everything that works in the real world of your job search.

So what do people do instead of sitting in front of a screen for 8 hours? Instead of the usual ‘How-to’ guide, here’s some real-world job search experience that made sense, one person at a time. All of it from people who’ve been there……

Give Yourself Permission to Do Other Stuff

“Anyone who says they are looking for a job all day every day is either kidding you or kidding themselves. I tried to live up to this at the start of my job search but it drove me and everyone else crazy. Looking back, at the time I wouldn’t have given myself a job! I was too desperate, too anxious. It took me a while but I guess I started to give myself time off to do other things. Everything was on hold for my job search so I began to run errands again, do chores, even spend a little time with friends. Looking for a job started to fit around me instead of the other way round and it got easier to manage things that way. It took about six months of looking but by the end I was a completely different person showing up for interview.”

Talk to People

“My job search got better the more people I talked to. In the end I was talking to everyone – friends, family, people in shops. I talked to them all about what I was doing, the good and the bad. When I did get an interview I felt a lot more relaxed because it was a subject I was used to talking about every single day.”

Take Breaks

“I would never have chatted to a neighbour at the start of my job search but it was actually a 5 minute conversation with a neighbour about his plumbing business that led to a new job working with someone he knew. My wife told me something might happen like this. The minute she said it I should have known!”

Get Out There

“The mistake I made was sitting at my computer doing internet searches for hours on end. If there are thousands of people doing this, what makes me different?  Why would a company hire me and not one of the other 999 people applying for the same job? It was the hardest thing to do but I just started leaving the house. I went to the local library, went into shops, visited industrial parks, rode on the bus. It sounds daft but I started to feel like something might happen. Like something was going to come my way and it did!”

Keep Up Your Interests

“I can’t tell you how much of a difference it made to be able to show someone what I do rather than telling them in words. I’m a cook so I just cooked and cooked and cooked. Eventually someone tasted my food and offered me a job on the spot.”

Visit Companies in Your Area

“There was a company close to my old school and I’d always wondered what they did there so one day I plucked up the courage and asked. They weren’t hiring but they told me to come back in a few months. After interviewing with other companies something cropped up with a company on the same business park. Now I know what it’s like to work next door to the company close to my school.”

Explore Your Interests

“I never really thought about what I liked doing or what other people told me I was good at. If I hadn’t been made redundant I don’t think my career would have changed the way it did. It was the little push I needed to think about what I wanted to do in a different way.”

See the Big Picture

“My job search got a lot easier when I started thinking about looking for work as a bigger effort instead of just what I was doing day to day. When things didn’t go well I let them get on top of me. Little setbacks were disasters I thought I’d never recover from. Thinking about the whole effort I was making and how I wanted my job search to end up took the sting out of the knocks. I realised good and bad things were going to happen but I’d get there in the end.”

So what makes sense to you?

I could have added Take on new Tasks, Keep a Job Search Journal, Get Involved in Community Activities, Join Societies or Work-Related Groups, Start a New Project and so on but the key here isn’t just what works in the real world for other people. What’s important is what works for you.

There’ll be some activities that just feel right. Doing them will make it seem like you’re getting somewhere, learning something as you go. Few people ever look back on a job search with fond memories but it doesn’t have to be a horror show either. We all have the power to think and act more carefully, more consciously when we’re looking for work. Good support and encouragement is out there too, if you keep looking it.

A job search can be a time where everything feels beyond our control but there is always something we can influence. Sense beats nonsense every time in a job search and, as I hope some of these examples have proved, job search sense is always within reach.

Embrace nonsense! But maybe not on your job search
[Image courtesy of coincoyote on]

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