“I am a warrior with a warrior spirit!” This phrase changed my life after I heard my pastor say it one Sunday morning. As soon as I got home, I wrote it down and hung it up on my wall. I was unemployed for 243 days, and during that entire time, those seven words helped me stay encouraged. In that duration, I took over 100 interviews, from the standard in-person sit-down to frightening phone calls and dozens of video chats. I gleaned a lot of insight about both myself and the job market, which has subsequently made me more mature and self-assured when seeking employment. No one wants to be in a difficult situation, but if you find yourself in one, here are six things to keep in mind:
1. Keep searching until you find the perfect match.
When choosing a career, it is important to consider not only whether the company is a good fit for you, but also whether the role is a good fit for you. When I graduated from college all I wanted was to live in New York City and work in consumer PR full-time. Although I had no preference for where I wanted to work, I knew that I wanted an opportunity to learn. Employers are searching for candidates they perceive will gel with their current employees and company culture. Don’t apply for jobs or companies that you know aren’t a good fit for you just because you’re desperate. It’s important to be clear regarding the type of job you want, and you should consider requesting an informational interview from someone in your desired field before submitting a formal application. In either case, make sure it’s a good fit for you before applying for the position.
[Related: What It *Actually* Means to Figure Out Your Dream Job—and Go for It]
2. Don’t waste your time on job boards that won’t lead to any results.
Job postings usually direct you to an online application. For example, Indeed, MediaBistro, and LinkedIn are all great resources I used when looking for a job. While many job-seekers stop at simply submitting their applications, I went further and made direct contact with current employees. This showed the company my dedication to receiving an interview. If you’re unsure of how to find contacts, LinkedIn is a great resource that can help connect you with people who work for your target company. Always research a company before agreeing to an interview, especially if you found the listing on Craigslist. I once scheduled an interview in Atlanta, but after reading reviews on Glassdoor, discovered it was only a call center and not the marketing firm it pretended to be. This way, you can avoid wasting time and money traveling somewhere that isn’t worth your while.
[Related: How To Find Your Dream Job (When You Don’t Know What You Want)]
3. It’s okay to ask for help when you need it.
As my friends started working amazing jobs, I became increasingly ashamed of being the only one without a job. At first, I was unwilling to discuss my job search struggles with anyone, but then I recalled a famous line from one of my favorite films: “Closed mouths don’t get fed.” And it’s true. The relationships you establish can play a pivotal role in your job search. My mentors, colleagues, and alumni network were instrumental in helping me refine my pitch and find listings that were a match for my skill set. Not only did they offer to revise my resume, but they also scheduled interviews with potential employers and provided me with practice interviews.
4. There is more to life than what can be seen on social media.
It’s important that we don’t perceive our lives through rose-colored glasses, or in this case, the Valencia filter on Instagram. It’s essential to trust the process and keep in mind that everyone’s journey is different. While I was searching for a job, social media started having a negative impact on me. While I was excited to see my friends’ job postings, I took a break from social media to focus on myself and wait for my turn to announce some good news. If you want to keep your positivity up, take breaks from social media. Ease into it by unplugging for the weekend first, and then progress to a week-long detox. You’ll probably find that breaking this habit frees up time to get more done and makes you feel better too.
5. When you open your mind, you open your world.
I was unemployed and feeling terrible about myself until I saw people with similar degrees to me using their skills to get jobs in different fields. When I started my job search, the only thing on my mind was to get a PR gig in New York City. My tunnel vision prevented me from considering anything else or any other location. After I discovered that art and psychology majors were more likely to get the PR jobs I interviewed for, I decided to explore other options. Then, I applied for jobs in various industries all across America. Don’t shut any doors when job-hunting – you never know where they may lead, and you might just find some hidden talents along the way.
6. Find an uplifting song to help you stay positive.
Christina Aguilera’s “Fighter” was my theme song during my job hunt. Maintaining a positive outlook helped me to change my circumstances. Even though it took me a while to find a job, each interview made me “a little bit stronger” and “a little wiser.” If you want to learn how to think positively, take your negative thoughts and turn them into something more optimistic. Instead of saying “I had a horrible interview,” try saying “I did the best I could during that interview.” Instead of saying “I’m a complete failure for not landing the job,” think, “ I may not have landed this job—but I have what it takes to get the next one.”
After I changed my perspective, I contacted a relative who worked at the premier hospital in New York City. Thanks to what I had learned and her relationships, I landed a job as an office assistant. After a short time, I achieved my goal and attained a full-time job in public relations. Continue to work hard for your dreams; when the timing is right, everything you desired will manifest.
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