Why do people hate Mondays? Usually it’s because of work. Unsurprisingly, the one thing people dread more than work is finding it.
The job hunt can be so painful for people that there are articles, books, and even employment agencies created for the sole purpose of helping people find jobs. These resources largely focus on improving resumes and interview presence. However in my case once I mastered all of these traditional tools I still wasn’t getting job offers, and when I finally received offers they weren’t in my field of interest. I felt more frustrated and hopeless the longer I searched for jobs, which impacted my interview performance.
As it turns out, there are many factors affect the job search beyond the obvious professional tidbits. Below you won’t find advice about updating your resume, networking, or interview tips. There are more than enough resources out there that already cover those things. What you will find instead is my holistic survival guide to crushing your job search and landing your dream job.
Without further ado, here is the list of five things no one told you (but should have) about finding a job:
1. Know what you bring to the table before you start applying for jobs.
When I started my job search, I had zero idea of what my skills were. At best, I knew that I could take notes and answer phones well. Of course, I was capable of much more than that, but I had no idea how to articulate it.
This lack of confidence in my abilities shone through in job interviews. It made me come across as less capable and more inexperienced than I really was. Eventually, I realized that I needed to create a list of my accomplishments. Once I did that, I was able to accurately articulate my professional brand and my interview performance drastically improved.
This isn’t to say that creating a list of accomplishments is the solution for you. There are many ways to learn about your professional strengths. Regardless of how you discover your skillset, spending some time before you apply for jobs learning what your strengths are and how to articulate them will upgrade your interview performance to the next level. Because if you don’t learn how to speak up for yourself, who will?
2. Once you can articulate your strengths, learn how to ask for help.
One of the hardest lessons from my job search was learning to ask for help. I am an incredibly stubborn person, which means I try to tackle everything on my own without help. After months of failure in finding a job I started asking some friends of mine for support. Suddenly, things got much easier for me.
Help with your job search can come in many forms. Sometimes you may need emotional support after bombing an interview. Other times having an extra set of eyes on your job application can give it the competitive advantage it needs. Regardless of what form the help takes, it will make a world of difference in your job application process. All you have to do is ask for it.
Of course, not all advice is warranted.
3. Follow your heart and don’t lose your focus.
Everyone seemed to have an opinion about my job search. My grandparents wanted to know why I wasn’t focused on landing a job in Corporate America for financial security. My friends wondered why I wasn’t pursuing politics like I did in college.
As it turns out, each time someone gave me their unwarranted advice I tried applying for a job relevant to their opinion. After doing this for some time, what I found was that whenever I applied to a job that I wasn’t fully invested in, I couldn’t give that application my all. I then received many rejection letters.
This was because I wasn’t pursuing my passions, but instead, what other people wanted me to do. Cheesy as it sounds, when you follow your heart you put your best foot forward in cover letters and in interviews, which can lead to job offers. That being said….
4. You will get rejected. Rejection is not a statement of your self-worth.
In my case, after college I had multiple internships under my belt. I graduated with a solid GPA. I thought I had the art of interviewing down to a science. Despite all of this, I received a mountain of rejection letters.
Many of the jobs I applied for were at nonprofits and I felt personally attacked by these rejections, as if I wasn’t good enough to support their causes. Of course that wasn’t the case. The job market is just incredibly competitive.
So if you receive rejection letters, take them with stride. Reflect (not mope) on each application experience, and of course, always find ways to improve. Something better will come along.
5. Something better will eventually come along for you.
Since I moved back to New York, I’ve had three jobs. The first was at a small company I found on Craigslist. The next was at a more-established company that wasn’t in my field. Finally, my third (and current) position is at a mission-oriented startup that I’m in love with.
To put this in perspective, I started sending out job applications in January of 2015. I didn’t land a job that I loved until January of 2017, two years after the fact. That isn’t to say that those two years working in jobs “unrelated” to my career path weren’t relevant, quite the contrary. It was because of those two jobs that I learned the skills that helped me secure my current position and succeed in it.
Point being – you may not land your dream job right off the bat. Regardless, you will still learn skills and make connections that are important to your career progression.
So no matter where you end up working for your first (or even second) job, absorb as much as you can from it to take with you into your next position. It may not seem like it at first, but that “unrelated” job may teach you the skills or get you the connections to land your dream job. Of course you’ll never know this until after the fact, so you need to make the most of each experience.