So you got your foot in the door but stumbled in the interview. Or you’re doing everything right–so it seems–and you still haven’t landed a job offer. Whether you’ve been looking for a job for 6 days or 6 months, rejection is never easy to handle.
The job hunt can really be withering to your self-esteem. Self-doubt, loss of energy, and the impulse to bail and go back to grad school can creep up at any time. It’s important to keep a level head, though, as your attitude will color your interactions with potential employers. Everything from your tone of voice to your posture must say, “I’m a winner,” even if you’re feeling less than triumphant.
Here are some tips for keeping your head above water:
If all you’re doing is thinking about jobs, reading about jobs, applying for jobs and interviewing for jobs, it’s easy to see your job hunt as the single biggest thing in your life. You need balance. Make sure you’re exercising, seeing your friends, and having fun.
Want a real dose of perspective? Volunteer at a homeless shelter or a soup kitchen. When you’re helping others, you’ll forget about yourself and gain a valuable new perspective on your situation–which probably will no longer seem like the worst in the world.
If your cover letter and resume just aren’t doing the trick in landing you interviews, or if you make it to interviews but then have trouble securing offers, solicit a dose of honest, constructive criticism.
Contact someone whose opinion you value and ask them to read over your materials or take you through a mock interview. Listen to their feedback, remembering that their goal is to help you. If they think you’re doing fine, listen to them, and keep doing precisely what you’re doing.
Join a Support Group
It can be tough to look for support from friends and family who are all gainfully employed and have no idea what you’re going through. The best solution may be to find a group of people who are in the same situation.
Many career centers–on-campus or private–offer support groups for job seekers for a nominal fee. No access to a career center? Look in the phone book under “career counselors” and call around, asking for referrals to such a group.
Take a Break
Sometimes things just take time. Even a job hunt has a certain cycle you must go through, and no matter how hard you try, you can’t speed up the process. If you’re doing everything right, maybe it’s time to back off a little and give yourself some breathing room.
Give yourself permission to take a break–a day or two, or even a week–where you won’t do anything new on your job hunt. Of course, you’ll want to monitor your e-mail and phone to see if anyone’s trying to contact you. But don’t initiate any new steps until after your “vacation.” You’ll likely return to your search with renewed energy and insight.