A Tool to Stop Being Overwhelmed by Your Job Search
We have all experienced it... the dreadful job search.Whether you are nearing graduation or are a seasoned professional desiring a career change. Maybe you were unfortunately laid off. Regardless of being initiated by good or poor circumstances, job searches can leave you feeling overwhelmed. I know my last job search was definitely overwhelming. However, I figured out a way to better manage my job search stress and I want to share it with you!
My post-graduate school job search started off with excitement and quickly spiraled into a stressful, overwhelming situation. Road bumps that contributed to my job search stress included:
- Battling the feeling of waiting forever for that call back or “thank you for applying… but” email, though I just applied to the position not even 1 second over 24 hours ago.
- Not spending enough time preparing for an interview, or focusing too much time prepping for the "wrong” interview.
- The general feeling that my search was unproductive because I applied to several positions but I haven’t received an interview yet.
- Replaying in my mind what I was doing the moment a deadline to an open application period passed. Regretting that I rushed to submit an application that I knew was mediocre.
- Frustration at my inability to keep track of all the positions I’ve applied to already and the status of those applications.
Nearing 3 months into my job search, I began to realize how much life I was missing out on stressing about my job search being unfruitful. I literally punished myself by not going out with friends or family because “I need to find a job,” as if I haven’t applied anywhere because I haven’t received an interview or offer yet. At the peak of my frustration, I took a 1-week break from my job search to reset. During this time, I vented my frustrations about my search to my now husband. He exclaimed surprise at the fact that I constantly ignored how many positions I applied to, instead focusing solely on the number of applications that resulted in no interviews, and the number of interviews that resulted in no offers. After this conversation, I had the idea to create a job search log.
When I first started my job search log, I was applying to about 2-4 jobs a month— this was while I was wrapping up my master's program, interning, and living life overwhelmed because I didn't have a job locked down yet. I eliminated the feeling of being overwhelmed by my job search by tracking my job search success (productivity) using my log. I began averaging 8 solid applications a month— December through April, I took March off to travel and visit family. Now don't get me wrong, I was still stressed and itching to begin my post-graduate studies career. But I was no longer overwhelmed because I had evidence that my search was productive: I applied to over 32 positions and I celebrated myself after submitting each successful, strong application. I landed 11 interviews overall. I received 2 job offers— I turned down 1 offer and accepted another.
5 Reasons Keeping a Job Search Log Helped Me:
- Tracking the position titles and companies that I was interested in applying to created a great starting point for me to find other similar positions or companies. I used Google to find similar positions to the ones that have already caught my attention. I also searched for example resumes, salary guidance, etc. for positions that appeared frequently on my log. Through my searches, I also found companies that I did not know existed that were similar to ones that I already had interest.
- Keeping a log of the requisition numbers of positions I applied proved handy for internal employee referrals. In larger companies, there may be several job postings with the identical titles. However, all job postings should have unique requisition numbers. By keeping log of the requisition numbers, I was confident that when I asked my colleagues and associates to refer me that the referral will make it to the right person, for the right job. On several occasions, my associates have asked me for the position's requisition number because their company's sophisticated referral system requires the requisition number for all employee referrals.
- Making note of the date positions were posted motivated me to submit my applications sooner. At companies with careerists clamoring to wiggle in, HR often confirms minimum qualification of applicants in batches. Once HR has, let's say, 25 qualified applicants, the remaining applications often won't make it to the hiring manager's desk. For me, knowing that each day at least 1 or maybe even 100 qualified applicants have applied ahead of me provided extra fire for me to submit a strong application sooner than later.
- Marking the desirability of the position helped me to reflect on why I wanted to be considered for the position beyond the obvious—bills, bills, bills. I took completing this field in my job search log very seriously. Will this type of position move me closer to my career goals? Will I enjoy the responsibilities? Does the salary range, if available, compliment my current or desired lifestyle? What are my true thoughts on the company? Using my job search log I was able to captures the answers to these questions in a way to help me focus my job search and complete my applications smartly.
- Entering the dates that I submitted my job application was a reminder of how productive I was in the area of my job search that I control 100%. I know I cannot be the only one who finds herself obsessing over not hearing back, only to dig up the "Thank you for submitting your application" email to find that I applied literally less than 48 hours ago. For every submitted application, I marked the log entry complete, poured myself a generous glass of red wine, le sigh a breath of relief, and moved on to enjoy life! My ritual that starts with entering the date of my application submission was a reminder to me that my job search was productive and that there are no thoughts that I can mull over that will have HR contact me any faster.
My job search log is a powerful tool that provided me a foundation to grow my job search, track my productivity, and reflect on my future career and goals. As a result, my job search stopped being overwhelming and I became confident I would conquer my search.
At the end of the day, your job during your job search is to submit strong applications. That is how you should measure your productivity. Letting stress rule over your job search can actually damage your job search. You cannot control if you receive a call back, interview, or even an offer. However, the first thing that you have 100% control over during your job search is creating a strong resume, cover letter, and responses to supplemental questions. Ready to give my job search log a try during your job search? If so, email me and I will send you my template: firstname.lastname@example.org.