Most people have heard the adage “job-hunting is a full-time job,” but what often goes unsaid is that it’s pretty much the worst full-time job. It’s tedious, you have to work weekends, there are no happy hours with coworkers, and to top it all off, it doesn’t even pay the bills (well, at least not right away). So if you’ve been searching for months and are nowhere near landing your dream job, it’s understandable that you sometimes feel like you want to throw up your hands, open a bottle of wine, and call it quits. But before you start looking for sturdy cardboard boxes to live in, try first to remember these 5 important things:
1. You are not entitled to a job.
You just spent 4 years of your life and thousands of dollars on your education, you got good grades, juggled internships and extracurriculars, you volunteered at the animal shelter every month… it seems like the least someone could do is hand you a decent paying job upon graduation to make it worthwhile! But alas, just like winning the 7th grade science fair didn’t magically grant you acceptance into college, doing well in college doesn’t guarantee you a job if you aren’t willing to put in the work it takes to get one. You can relax upon retirement, but for now you should be just getting warmed up.
2. You are not alone.
Sometimes it will feel like you are the only one of your friends who still doesn’t have a job, but you are not alone. The Economic Policy Institute reports that 16.8 percent of new college graduates are “underemployed,” meaning they’re either jobless and hunting for work; working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job; or want a job, have looked within the past year, but have now given up on searching. Let this dismal fact be of some reassurance: you are not a failure, you are not unemployable, and tons of people are suffering right along with you. (Misery really does love company.)
Also remember, though, that ‘not being alone’ means you have lots of competition for available jobs – let this be your motivation to job hunt harder and smarter than the rest of your peers.
3. You never know where your job might come from.
One of my friends graduated from university last June and immediately began looking for employment. A few months later and still without a “real job,” he decided to bite the bullet and go work at the place that most people with college degrees hope they’ll never have to: McDonalds. This might sound like a worst-case scenario, but he made an effort to set his pride aside and be a model employee. Then, one morning, one of his regulars came in for coffee and a McMuffin and said, “You know, I’m always really impressed with your customer service, you have a great attitude! Would you potentially be interested in coming to interview for a position we have open in my department at Google?” A year later, my friend is no longer selling hamburgers and fries, but is instead selling Google Glass to developers. I kid you not.
Moral of the story? Be great in everything you do, because you could be rewarded at any time.
4. Your dream job might be months, or even a year, away.
My resume shows that my first job out of college was at a criminal defense law firm, but that’s actually a lie. My real first job out of college was working as a cashier in the housewares department at Macy’s, ringing up table runners, wine glasses, and animals made of crystal. It was the furthest thing from what I wanted, and unlike my friend who worked at McDonalds, it never led to me getting a fabulous new job. But, it paid the bills and kept me from going insane at my parents’ house, so that’s what I did while I looked for a job in my field of study. I think the lesson here is, “Never put your dreams aside, but have a contingency plan for the downtime before you make your dreams come true.”
5. Then again, your dream job could be just around the corner.
When it’s 7pm on Friday and you’ve sent out 27 cover letters and resumes that day, and you’re dying to shut your computer and veg out to Law & Order: SVU for the rest of the night, remember that the very next job listing you respond to could be the place you end up working. Revel in that possibility and send off a few more, because your job hunt could be over that much sooner.