How can I stay positive when things get hard? How do I stay on track in the job search?
Let’s jump right in and go over ways to find motivation as a job seeker during this weird time we’re all living in.
What has COVID changed about the job search?
Through all the uncertainty we’ve faced, the good news is companies are still hiring. Recruiters still value seeing tailored resumes over generic job applications. Even if a lot has changed in our day-to-day lives, much of the job search process has remained the same.
While vaccines are rolling out and restrictions continue to change, video interviews don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. Job seekers should start to get comfortable interviewing over Zoom (and be sure to dress appropriately while doing so: think smart-casual).
One major change: the way recruiters approach job apps. A recent survey by TopResume found:
- 87% of recruiters aren’t concerned about seeing an inconsistent work history or gap in employment.
- 48% of recruiters are now more likely to read a cover letter than they were before the pandemic.
What does that mean for job seekers? Don’t worry about trying to hide your employment gap. Since recruiters are reading cover letters more, now’s your chance to get extra specific about your experiences and what you bring to the table. If you need help with your cover letter: watch this: 3 Cover Letter Tips
And if you’re wondering whether it’s worth looking for a job right now: the answer is YES.
Where’s the best place to look for jobs right now?
Overwhelmed by how many job boards there are? Use the platform that fits your goals best.
- Looking for a role in a nonprofit? Take a look at options on Idealist. Idealist also has internships and volunteer opportunities, if you need something to do in between roles.
- Want to work in NYC Tech and Startups? Built In NYC is a great place to start. You’ll find anything from Data and Analytics to UX Design or Project Management.
What if you’re not sure what you want to do or where you want to work?
- Make a list.
Sometimes the easiest way to get clarity is by understanding what you DON’T want to do. Start there! What jobs do you never want to do again? What responsibilities do you want to avoid?
Once you have your list of what you know you don’t want, take some time to reflect:
- What did you love about your last job?
- What makes you want to leave your current role?
- What does your ideal workday look like?
- What do you want to learn?
[WATCH NOW: 4 Things to Do before applying to jobs]
- Get inspiration.
Spend some time on LinkedIn and look through your connections’ profiles. What are they doing now? What are some of the roles they’ve had? Sometimes you’ll see a job title and it’ll click: THAT’S what I want to do. Or you’ll research a company and realize you want to stick to healthcare.
- Talk to people.
Ask friends and acquaintances what they like about their jobs. Ask your best friend or your sister what they could see you doing. Sometimes their insights are just what you need to get the ball rolling.
How to stay motivated when times get tough?
- Be kind and gracious with yourself.
It’s so easy to feel rushed through the job search process. You want it to be over; you want to skip to the part where you’re comfortable and settled.
Remember: looking for a job takes time.
Anytime you start kicking yourself for not applying to more jobs or reaching out to more connections, give yourself some grace. There are only so many hours in a day, and you’re doing the best you can.
You’re not a failure. Imagine your friend just received a “no” from her dream job. Would you tell her she’s a colossal failure? Or she should give up while she’s ahead? Of course not!
Talk to yourself like you would a friend: “I’m sorry, that’s really hard. You’re going to find something if you keep being your wonderful authentic self. Don’t give up!”
- Set super small goals.
Success doesn’t happen overnight. To land your dream job, you’ll need to take small steps in the right direction. Make a list of everything you want to do for your career development. Then, break those tasks down even further.
If you want to update your LinkedIn, for example, don’t try to overhaul your whole profile in one hour. Start smaller. Take things one day (or even one week) at a time.
Here’s how you might go about updating your LinkedIn profile:
- Update your headline
- Upload a new headshot
- Add links to your portfolio
- Write your profile summary
The same goes for updating your resume and cover letter:
- Update your header
- Update your formatting
- Add data to your bullet points
- Expand on your most recent job
Another way to stay on track? Dedicate each day of the week to a specific component of the job search. You could focus on job boards and applications Mondays and Tuesdays, networking on Wednesdays and Thursdays, then Fridays spend some time on follow-up.
Small goals will add structure to your weeks and help you feel like you have more control of the process.
- Keep track of your job applications.
Job applications are time-consuming and can take a lot of energy. Celebrate small wins along the way. Have a running list of where you’ve applied to help keep yourself motivated.
Instead of having a hundred tabs open and losing a great opportunity in the shuffle, create a Google Sheet, Trello board, whatever works for you, and start copy-pasting information as you apply. Some ideas for info to include:
- Link to the job description
- Link to the resume and cover letter you used
- Name of company
- Job title
- Summary of duties
Bonus: having this information at the ready will make communicating with recruiters and hiring managers so much easier. You won’t be scrambling to find what the job is, you’ll have a document to work from.
- Start collecting no’s.
Job searching can be such a numbers game. The more you apply, the more you’ll get into your groove, start making connections, and feeling confident in your search. If you’re scared to apply, remember: every “no” is one step closer to a “yes.”
Don’t take “no” personally
Being rejected for a job can be demoralizing at any time during the job search process, but especially when you hit it off with the hiring committee. Hearing “no” feels like a direct reflection on you. It feels like you’re a failure or you’ll never find the right fit. You have to remember: the job search isn’t about YOU personally. For all you know, the other candidate had the exact same qualifications and resume as you, but they made a joke about their Alma Mater and the hiring manager had a son who went to the same college and there ya go.
Use “no” as a networking opportunity
Now that you’ve gone through an interview with the hiring manager and have their contact information, stay in touch. It’s hard to keep your pride at bay and remain connected with someone who rejected you. Certainly don’t reach out day two and ask how they’re doing. Give yourself time to grieve and be upset or bitter. Circle back in a month or two and see how things are going.
Fun fact: A friend of mine once followed this strategy, and it turned out the employer needed more help than they originally thought. They hired her after they’d chosen someone else two months prior!
- Be curious and excited to learn.
Every new role is a chance to grow—even if that means an entry-level job or a lateral move. Maybe you want to be head UX Designer at Y company, but the only options are entry-level roles or lateral. That’s more than okay. Use your next stepping stone as a place to be curious and learn as much as you can about your field or industry.
Sometimes, your dream job is another step or two away. Sometimes, you need a foot in the door at your dream company before you can step into your ideal position. Use your next step in your career as an opportunity to learn.
Tiny wins are still WINS
Every job you apply to isn’t going to be a “yes.” And that’s okay! If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or defeated, take stock of your accomplishments so far. Be proud of yourself for what you’ve put into your career development so far. You’d rather spend the time searching for the right fit than jumping into something you’ll hate (and have to restart the whole process again in a few months).
Feeling stuck or overwhelmed? You don’t have to do this alone. Reach out to us.