To most people, searching for a job and having fun seem like opposite ends of the spectrum. The job hunt -- everything from browsing to applying to interviewing -- is often viewed as a form of modern torture, a hiring hellscape filled with endless cover letters, dysfunctional online job boards and interminable waits between applying and hearing from human resources (if you hear from them at all).
The question is, why view the job search as a slog? After all, it’s not going anywhere soon. In fact, it may be one of the most popular institutions in American professional life, considering that something like 70% of Americans feel negatively about their current jobs and the fact that millennials are changing jobs every 3.2 years.
Like anything else in life, the job search comes down to perception. If you view applying for new jobs as an exciting opportunity instead of a necessary evil, I guarantee your attitude will improve and hiring managers will take notice. Read on to find out five ways to inject a little enjoyment into the job search; after all, life is about the journey, not the destination.
1. Capitalize on Your Best Assets
In the job search, doing it all -- job board scans, online applications, cover letters, in-person networking, informational interviews, et al -- can burn a job seeker out in no time. To avoid over-exertion, focus on what works best for you and exploit those skills for all they're worth.
In the same way that you focus on your best assets when crafting your resume and interviewing with a potential employer, you should also cater the job search to capitalize on your best qualities. Based on your interactions with friends, significant others, professors, or family, determine what you do best, then work on translating them to the job search. Are you gregarious and outgoing? Pursue an aggressive networking strategy, attending events and meeting as many influencers as possible. Are you more quiet and reserved? Try emailing hiring managers at companies you admire. Are you witty and verbose? Work on crafting employer-specific queries that will help you stand out from the crowd.
2. Make Time for the Job Search, and Time for Yourself
The pressure of the job search can be overwhelming; every minute you’re not applying can feel like a loss, like somebody’s beating you to your dream job. But in reality, nothing kills a job seeker’s spirit like a long day spent scanning job boards and attending a raft of pointless, impenetrable networking events. Instead of investing your time and money in endless browsing and business cards, make a pact with yourself to search smarter, not harder. There are plenty of job search engines out there that distill the big job boards for you. Instead of networking indiscriminately, take some time to determine exactly what you’re looking for and start targeting employers directly. There’s no replacement for a real human interaction, for you and the employer.
With your newfound free time, do whatever your heart desires. Follow your instincts, even (and especially!) if your instincts tell you to do absolutely nothing. There is ample evidence out there that says creative problem-solving thrives during free time, which means forgetting about your career problem could be the first step to ultimately solving it.
3. Never Stop Searching
Don't less this rule fool you: I am not saying you should be spending every waking minute trying to set up interviews. Rather, you should never look at your search as separate from any other part of your life; this will help you see the job search through a new lens and acclimate you to the search before you go in for your final interview. Despite what some may tell you, there is no need to get into a proper job-seeking mindset before putting yourself out into the world of hiring. A sense of comfort when browsing and applying translates into an ease and confidence that makes hiring managers salivate, so don’t fret over establishing a ritual or dedicating a certain number of hours per day to your search.
Studies show as many as 90% of job seekers browse for jobs via mobile, which has the inherent benefit of letting you search from anywhere -- a couch, an Uber backseat, a toilet seat, the list goes on. Forget the coffee shops or your cramped desk at home, and let the job hunt come to you and your pocket. Not only will it alleviate the pressure of being overly professional and serious, but you might even have some fun doing it!
4. Turn the Job Hunt Into a Scavenger Hunt
Any job search expert will tell you that staying organized throughout your hunt is key, so why not add a little fun to those Excel spreadsheets and handwritten lists of potential employers, hiring managers and target salaries? If you’re keeping good track throughout your search, consider injecting a couple of fun adventures or tasks to break up the monotony and remind you that you’re a human, not just a drone in the employment industrial complex. And who knows? That trip to the driving range or reading at your local bookshop could lead to a networking opportunity you would’ve missed sitting behind a laptop all day.
You can even add intention to these activities. Take a few trips up and down an empty elevator, practicing your “elevator pitch” in the literal sense. Hit a bar by yourself, sidle up next to a stranger and work on your sales skills by making a new friend. There’s really no difference between selling yourself as a romantic partner, a friend or a mentor and selling yourself to an employer, and mixing the two is the first step to figuring that out.
5. Keep Your Hobbies, and Find a New One
Total focus on the job search should not mean total desolation. Keep the things you love to do -- or the people you love to be with -- close to you during the process. Hobbies will keep you sane and energized, and help put the job search into a necessary perspective. Unless you are a workaholic, in which case, full steam ahead!
Whether you play soccer, make pottery, paint or play video games, make sure you dedicate a certain amount of time to these activities. By taking your mind off the construction of your cover letter and letting it wander, your intellect will come back stronger when you return to the task at hand. There is also some wisdom to acquiring a new hobby at the same time you start your job search. While splitting your time and mindshare between two new tasks, you'll be pushing yourself in exciting ways and engaging different parts of your brain. Feel free to let this hobby relate to your job search, whether it is taking a class to gain a new professional skill or joining a book club to work on your communication skills. Just like hitting the gym helps develop your muscles, exercising your job-search muscles in everyday life will have you firing on all cylinders during the hunt.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Yarden Tadmor is the founder & CEO of Switch, a mobile job marketplace that aims to match top candidates with real hiring managers in new and innovative ways. Candidates can apply to relevant positions easily and be connected to their next career in minutes, all from the comfort and convenience of their iPhone. Click here to download Switch on iPhone or to get Switch on Android and start swiping today!
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