6 Tips to Conquer the Feeling of Hopelessness During the Job Search

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Charles Abramo
02/09/2021

HR job search

2020 saw the highest unemployment rate since 1948. Unfortunately, this left a lot of Americans searching for a job in an increasingly difficult job market. If it isn’t bad enough that the job search process is an emotional rollercoaster leaving you excited one day and totally beaten the next, people were dealing with challenges of a pandemic. We don’t always expect the job search process to be as emotional as it is, but these emotions can leave one feeling hopeless, as if they will never find the right job for them.

Applicants have been known to put out dozens of applications to jobs they are qualified for and not hear anything back. Putting in the effort of researching and filling out applications, all to be left with nothing, can be difficult and discouraging. Not to mention recruiters ghosting you, a company not filling the role after you’ve spent 6 weeks interviewing, and constant rejection e-mails. It doesn’t give you the feeling that you have a ton of control over the situation.

Unfortunately, feeling hopeless is natural in the job process. There is a ton of content surrounding how to keep yourself in the right mindset during the job search because researchers have shown how emotionally draining it is. This research is critically important for HR and recruiting teams to understand as it encompasses the processing of emotions.

For me, I not only need to get myself in the right mindset but I need to take action. I need to feel like I’m physically doing something to change the tide in my favor when looking for a job. The mindset is important, but it’s not enough for me. I feel more in control when I’m taking action. 

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Below are 6 tips to utilize during your job search to help you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.  Hopefully these tactics help you drop that feeling of hopelessness but make you feel like.

  1. Keep a List of Recruiters

We all get reached out to by recruiters: recruiters from companies, recruiters from agencies, and freelance recruiters. Depending on the timing and the role, it may not result in an offer. Despite the outcome, it doesn’t have to be all bad. That recruiter deals with hundreds of applicants, multiple companies and even more open roles. While all of them say, “we’ll keep your resume on file and contact you if something else comes up”, they hardly ever do.

I keep a database of all recruiters I speak to.  That way, when I’m job searching, I have a library of recruiters that I can reach out to. This allows you to keep your name at the top of their mind, while also checking in periodically to see if any roles have become available.

  1. Manage Expectations

We all have a fantasy of an incredibly expeditious hiring process that ends up with minimal interviews, a fast process, a job offer, and more money than we could have imagined.

Sounds great, right?

It’s important that we manage our own expectations of the process. Putting those unrealistic expectations out in the universe makes it harder when the potential employer asks for one more interview that you weren’t expecting, or they offer a number you weren’t hoping for.

Go into the process open to all possibilities. For me, I always expect an offer lower than I want and am prepared to negotiate. I expect a process that is longer than I hope for. Finally, I try not to give too many emotions to the possibility of getting the job. As an alternative, I give my emotion to the process: to the research of the company beforehand, prepping my resume, and passion during the interview. 

  1. Revise Your Resume to the Job

This is a common tip and it’s important as it cautions against using one resume for every job. While the tip is commonly shared, it’s so incredibly important to take this advice. Most jobs that people hold are dynamic, complex, and have impact over multiple areas. It’s impossible to capture the entirety of your role in one resume. Revising your resume to the job allows you to select the relevant responsibilities from your previous roles that make you a better candidate for this new role.

With the onset of quick and instant application systems, it’s tempting to have one resume that you can use expeditiously. For example, LinkedIn and Indeed offer amazing solutions where you can upload a resume and depending on the employer settings, you can apply to the job with your pre-loaded resume in one click. This ease to the application process is attractive as a stand-alone feature. Combined with the fact that job seekers typically need to apply to many jobs during this tough market, easy-to-apply features are well known and well used.

Despite all of this, I highly encourage you to take the time to apply and customize your resume for each role. While candidates work on adopting this practice, companies should work on ceasing the practice of asking you to upload your resume and then manually type all of same information into pre-determined fields.

  1. Protect Your Brand

Ideally before you start the job search, you should do an overview of what your brand looks like to an outside observer. This may include your LinkedIn picture, LinkedIn profile, your resume, comments or posts on other professional sites, etc.  You may also take this task on during the job search, though beforehand is always better.

Your brand consists of anything that a potential employer may see about you. This may include which professional organizations you belong to and what sites you contribute to.

Managing your brand during the job search process is a great way to take back the feeling of hopelessness.  It’s also a good practice to do periodically. ‘Personal brands’ is a topic that is everchanging. YouTube has some good videos on how to manage your professional brand.

  1. Network

“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.”  Unfortunately, this is much more common than we like to think. Networking is a critical part of developing your career and helping you out in the job search. 

Maybe it won’t help you out in this job search, but at some point, it will be beneficial. Not to mention, networking is just a good practice and a great way to build relationships.

Reach out to colleagues in your industry on networking sites. (After COVID) Join networking events.  Put yourself out there. While it may not have immediate returns, it could in the long run.

  1. Remember You’re Not Everyone’s Cup of Tea

No matter how strong your background is- you will not be right for every role. I’m going to say that again- you will not be right for every role….and that is OK. You could have the best resume in the world, but sometimes your skillset, no matter how great it is, is just not in line with what a company is looking for.

There are thousands of companies, thousands of hiring managers, and thousands of roles. Despite your strong professional experience, education, accolades, and other attributes- sometimes a company is simply looking for something else.  In my own personal experience, I have applied to jobs where I’ve had direct experience for years and been rejected. When asked, the company has cited that they were looking for someone with more union experience, supported a different employee population, worked in a specific jurisdiction, or had more experience in X function.

There is an infinite amount of equations out there.

Being discouraged by a rough job search is natural. No one likes rejection and this rejection tends to hurt our egos; it discourages us. Regardless, we must remember that the right role is out there, and we need to persevere to find it.

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