Brittney Lane, class of 2014, landed her dream job as an Undergraduate Business Advisor at Cal State, Fullerton after completing a Master of Human Relations. What did it take to get hired? No less than submitting 100 applications, attending seven interviews, and working hard to stay positive during six and half months of a full-time job search.
“There were times when staying motivated was incredibly tough.” Said Brittany, “The advice I received from my friends and relatives seemed unwanted and unhelpful. The work I had put into my college degrees is the reason I never gave up in my search. I reminded myself I had worked too hard in school not to try my absolute hardest at landing a job in my field.”
Brittney’s experience is not uncommon. How long it takes to find a job depends on many factors, including your major, industry you want to work in, and location. Often, finding your first full-time position out of college is not an easy or fast process; it’s common to spend several months or more applying and interviewing before receiving an offer.
In most cases, the hard work of preparing excellent applications and practicing interview skills eventually pays off. “After going through my search I have a different lens toward the work I do” Reflects Brittany. “If I am ever feeling down or burnt out I always think back to before I had my job and immediately find myself filled with gratitude for the opportunities I have. If I hadn’t worked hard to get to where I am now, I wouldn’t appreciate it as much.”
So, if your job search takes longer than you had hoped, don’t despair. Use the suggestions below to stay resilient while embracing the challenge of a job search:
Take a short class to develop a technical skill that will be useful in your field. Lynda.com offers tutorials on most software programs.
Volunteer for an organization that’s related to the type of work you want to do. Your experiences can give you fresh stories to use in your interviews, and you might meet professionals who can encourage or advise you.
Take a temporary position to gain experience and develop transferable skills in a professional setting.
Don’t take it personally. The job market is extremely competitive, and organizations often write job descriptions based on minimum qualifications. Even if you meet all of them, the applicant pool might include people who far exceed those minimums, who are then selected for interviews.
Silence the irrationally harsh inner critic. Job searches can be isolating, and especially when it seems like all your friends are getting offers, it’s tempting to go underground and wallow in negative self-talk. Resist the urge to isolate; this is a time when you need support and encouragement from people who are close. Challenge yourself to think positive. Keep a gratitude journal. Look for the bright side.
Learn from your experience. Brittany recalls, “The first interview I landed went terribly. I arrived much, much, much too early, which only gave me more time to sit around and make myself more and more nervous. I lacked confidence and spoke too quietly. I left feeling embarrassed. This was really discouraging, but I used this as a learning experience for future interviews.” After each interview or networking conversation, take time to reflect on your performance and identify and area for growth. Your confidence will grow as you see your skill developing!
Follow stories from your industry or field. Stay current on issues related to your field of choice by reading industry blogs, journals, newsletters, or following groups on LinkedIn. This information can be used to start conversations while networking or interviewing, to show you’re a serious candidate.
Network. Build your relationships with professionals in the fields that interest you by engaging your network of weak ties, performing informational interviews, and researching on LinkedIn. These conversations can introduce you to strategies for getting your foot in the door, and opportunities that have not been publicized elsewhere.
Create a routine. For a few weeks after graduation, lazy mornings can feel like a well-deserved break. If the lack of structure begins to feel more like chaos, give yourself a routine. Treat the job search like a job, and schedule a start time, specific hours dedicated to searching new openings, writing application materials, networking, and keeping your skills and knowledge current. The structure can give you a sense of accountability and purpose.
Take time for the rest of your life. You’re a whole person, and a job search is just one part of it. Invest in other areas of your life to keep the job search from defining you. For example, keep up relationships (and talk about something other than the job hunt…), choose a fitness goal to pursue, or attend a workshop or retreat in something that interests you. Often, making progress in other areas of your life keeps your confidence high for the job search.