Tuesday, October 7, 2014

5 Tips to Survive the Job Hunt

You need a new job.  Your current job is going nowhere, is about to end, or has already ended.  These situations have different degrees of panic-inducing immediacy, but each points to one course of action: the dreaded job hunt.

Relax! I've got you covered.

Everyone knows looking for work sucks.  It can be isolating, frustrating, depressing, and it tests your sense of self-worth.  So to help you survive it, here's a list of five invaluable things I didn't know I needed until I jumped into the fray myself.  And let me tell you, these things are getting me through it on the daily.

1. A Workout Plan.

Source: Redditor kirbyfood
This isn't about losing weight, or looking good in your interview outfit (more on that later).  Looking for a job is a waiting game.  You send out your cover letter and resume, and you wait.  It's hard to feel like you're making headway, and nearly impossible to see any progress.  What you need is tangible proof that you're doing something worthwhile, and that you're in the driver's seat of your own life.  For that, there's nothing better than exercise.  

Yoga, running, zumba, power walking, cartwheels through a field of flowers, whatever--working out gives structure to your day, and the much-needed ability to immediately feel, and eventually see, that you are in fact making progress and taking proactive steps towards change.  Plus, the endorphin rush is super, extremely helpful in keeping you out of the dark pit of existential despair you feel when you realize you're just a girl, standing in front of an HR office, asking it to love you.

2. Relentlessly Upbeat Music

Source: Pinterest user Gladys Neufeld
This goes hand in hand with working out.  Some days, you're going to wake up thinking, "Yeah! Let's DO this! I'm worthwhile, I've got boatfuls of talent, and any company would be lucky to have me!"  But I can guarantee you, that won't be every day.  When enthusiasm and positivity prove hard to conjure on your own, there's nothing like Queen Bey's "Love On Top" to get you there.  Seriously, this sounds frothy, but feeling good about yourself is absolutely key to making others feel good about you. So turn the beat up, "Shake It Off," and get to work.

3. A Wardrobe Plan

Source: goodmemory.tumblr.com
Pajamas are comfortable.  It's their job.  But your job is to look for a job, and you can't take it seriously if you're wearing loungewear.  It feels good at first, but eventually, part of your desire for a job will be to just have a reason to put on pants.  So give yourself that reason.  As a vintage gal, maybe you feel like your best, most put-together and employable self with your hair set and heels on. If so, do that.  Personally, that makes me feel like I've been stood up for the prom.  If you're like me, find a happy medium.  Just get out of your PJs, because if you go from sun up to sun down without a wardrobe change, you'll feel like nothing else is changing, either.

4. An Outfit That Looks Good On Camera

Source: Pinterest user Mariana E. Paula Moreno
These days, video interviews are common.  Part of me is happy about this--phone interviews suck for everyone, all the time--but on-camera interviews come with their own challenges.  Lighting and camera placement can make you look like Sophia Loren or a gremlin, so set yourself up for success by making sure you know where you could Skype like the knockout you are.  Also key? A tried-and-true outfit that flatters you in the harsh blue light of a computer.  Rule of thumb is to stay away from white and busy patterns, but test it out to see if you're the exception.  

Now, something you may want to think about as a vintage-wearing lady is how vintage to go.  You want to be memorable, but I've always had the sneaking suspicion that full-on vintage apparel, without the context of my hard work and skill set, can cause people to take me less seriously.  For this reason, I take it easy in the interview, and once I'm at the office and knocking socks off, I gradually transition into what I love wearing.  Should you have to do this?  Well, no-- people should judge you by your credentials, your talents, skills, etc.  But unfortunately, the real world isn't perfect, and depending on how badly you need a job, this may not be a hill worth dying on.  

5. Box Wine

Source: vintageimages.org
I'm serious here.  Looking for a job is full-time work.  It's hard, and it's frustrating, and at the end of the day, you deserve a break.  My reward of choice is box wine, because a) it's inexpensive enough that I can buy it without feeling guilty (it's the equivalent of four bottles of wine, and at $20 a pop, that math looks mighty good to me), and b) there's no empty bottle shame.  You know what I'm talking about.

Not into wine?  Rent a movie from RedBox or your local library, read a book you're slightly ashamed about (YA novels are wildly popular for a reason, guys), have a piece of candy-- just make sure that once in a while, you congratulate yourself for sticking it out.

The job hunt sucks.  It just does-- it sucks.  But you know what?  You're awesome, because you're doing it. If you can keep on truckin', it's going to pay off-- just stay in it, stay positive, and maybe give these tips a try.

Do you have any go-to tricks for surviving the job hunt? Share 'em in the comments below!

Note: I don't own these images; if you own them and would like me to remove them, just leave a comment!


  1. Great tips! I've just graduated from my Masters degree so I'm currently getting very familiar with the crushing disappointment of filling out loads of applications and never hearing back. I've had a few really low points, but I know that it's difficult for anyone to find a job at the moment, and it's not just me. I think not taking it personally is a really important part of getting through the job hunting process, otherwise it gets too depressing!

    1. I am *totally with you.* The Masters + Not Hearing Back is particularly crushing, but you're right, not taking it personally is hugely important, and definitely something I have to intentionally keep in mind.

  2. Thanks for the perfectly timed post -- I just moved across the ocean with my partner who is doing their masters, and so I'm looking for work and am definitely not feeling great about it. I'm on break from my own grad program due to mental health issues and so it's tough feeling worthwhile, bothering to get out of bed and dressed, or feeling motivated enough to even exercise. Going to give myself some tough love and follow these tips, and hopefully soon I'll be gainfully employed instead of sucking away at my savings (which isn't helped by the fact that the Canadian dollar is worth about half of a British pound...)!

    1. Girl, you and I are in neighboring boats. As a seriously accomplishment-oriented person, it's really tough to feel like anything other than a pile of grey clothing while looking for work. I think the increasingly impersonal nature of job hunting makes it worse-- you're basically pitching yourself to a database. Feeling positive about the experience is definitely a choice I've got to make daily, and a super important one, to keep from torching the stuff that is going well in my life (i.e. relationship, health, etc.). So, that's how I noticed what kept helping me, and voilà, these five tips emerged. I really hope they're useful for you, and help you keep up your spirit while you're on the job market. Stay in touch, and let me know how it goes!

  3. I relate to this on a deeply personal level, since it took me almost a year after moving to find regular employment. Mostly I was able to keep out of the deep pit of existential despair, but it sure was a struggle some weeks!

  4. omg, this made me laugh! great post ... before i found my job, i was on the hunt for 8 months ... horrible! there were offers but little money ... the wardrobe plan was good, the red wine helped too. ;)

    good luck for your hunt!

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