Job Hunting Can Be Miserable, But You Don’t Have To Be

Do you suffer from too much self-esteem? Cursed with an overabundance of contentment or confidence? If so, you might want to give job hunting a try. 

Few things in life are similar to trying to find employment. We have to sum up our whole professional worth in a page or two of text or in a short portfolio. We search high and low looking for busy strangers who will hastily judge us and compare us to a host of other strangers. We put ourselves out there, and typically we get no feedback at all or a handful of meaningless euphemism. (“Thank you for applying. After serious consideration, we have decided…”) Add all that potential for rejection to the stressful reality that most of us can’t afford to be out of work for too long, and trying to find a job can be emotionally grueling.

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But that’s the half of the glass that’s empty. The good news is there are things you can do to take some of the anxiety out of the job hunt.

Here are three tips to keeping your sanity as you’re giving out resumes. 

1) Remember that you are not a job. 

Sometimes when the process gets most painful, you might realize you weren’t only looking for work, but also for proof that you matter. An employer can give you a paycheck; it cannot give you a sense of self-worth. If you’re passed over for a position, it isn’t an informed judgment on you or your future. 

There are lots of people whose opinion you should deeply care about—they have titles like “parent,” “spouse,” or “best friend.” It should take years of sacrifice and effort to get into one of those close roles. Don’t give the same weight of authority to an automated program that searches for key words in a PDF, or a corporate recruiter who spent about thirty seconds judging your typeface and glancing at your work history.

It can take decades to learn what makes someone special. Job hunting is not that process. 

2) Focus on the things you can do. 

You probably can’t afford to hire yourself and you likely don’t run your own HR department. You could spend hours worrying about getting an interview or offer, or stewing about how unfair it is that some people with lesser qualifications have landed better jobs more quickly. This is a sure path to madness. 

Whenever you find yourself overwhelmed by worries, focus on things you can control. These could be things related to finding work, like sending copies of your resume out to friends for feedback, building up your portfolio, or trying to learn new skills while you wait for an offer. You can also focus on things that aren’t job related but that you still control. Go organize a junk drawer (the one where you keep mostly dead batteries, paper clips, and crazy glue with the lid stuck on), clean out your closet, or send a nice text to a friend. 

Yes, getting a job would be wonderful, but don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you have to sit around and wait for anyone else to make your world a better place. 

“If opportunity doesn’t knock, then build a door.” – Milton Berle

3) Treat others like you want to be treated. 

You probably hope the companies considering you aren’t criticizing your every move, so return the favor. It might take some companies a while to get back to you. They might seem busy or rushed. (They probably are busy and rushed.) Finding the right job can be really difficult, but it’s also not easy to find the right person to hire. 

Desirable positions can be flooded with applications, and companies are often asked to make snap decisions about how they will allocate hundreds of thousands of dollars based on a resume and a thirty-minute meeting. It’s a stressful time all around. Having a little compassion for those on the other side may make you a more attractive candidate and hush some of the voices in your head that get angry over all the little injustices you might have encountered. 

Despite having some flaws, you are probably trying to do your best to land a job. And despite an incredibly flawed and difficult process, the people who would value you the most are also trying their best to find you.

Don’t go around carrying grudges. Yes, some people didn’t give you a fair chance. Yes, a lot of companies might ghost you. But, as St. Augustine points out, “resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

Job hunting can be brutal, but not confusing a job with validation of your worth, focusing on the things you do control, and treating others like you want to be treated can take some of the edge off. Best of luck out there. 

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