Zen and the Art of Job Search

This blog is dedicated to two dear friends of mine who are currently involved in job searches and just happen to have birthdays today. Happy Birthday to Phil and Brett – hope you guys land your dream jobs soon!

Job hunting. Job search. Job seeking. Call it what you will but the bottom line is that it sucks.   At some point in your life you’ve been there or will be there and sometimes more than once. The reasons why you’re out there burning up the internet or pounding the pavement handing in resumes and visiting job fairs range from dissatisfaction with your current job to desperation to find something, anything, to pay the bills.

In my life, I’ve been lucky. I have only had the desperation search twice and both times as a result of a layoff. The first time was in 1990 and the last was in 2008. The first time, I fought the stigma of inexperience to land something new. The second time, if someone had told me I was “overqualified for the position” and they were concerned I would become bored by it one more time, I think I might have snapped. I mean, really, if I wasn’t interested in the job or thought I wouldn’t enjoy the work, why would I have invested the time to (1) learn about your company, (2) apply for the role, and (3) endure the grueling interview process? But I digress.

The dissatisfaction search is easier only in that you have something in hand that is meeting some, if not all, of your bills so that stress isn’t looming over you the way it does when there isn’t any income and only expenses. And, sad but true, it does seem easier to convince someone to hire you if you already have a job. It may be a perception bias that being employed makes you employable whereas being unemployed raises a level of concern as to why exactly, if your resume/experience is so great, you aren’t working.

Looking for work is a full time job in itself at times. It takes time to find a prospect. It takes time to research the company to figure out if it is really a place you want to work. It takes time to compile your job history/work experience or to update your resume. It takes time to network properly. It takes time to fill out on-line applications. (And why are they so blasted difficult to deal with anyway? I suspect it’s a test of your patience and basic computer aptitude, both of which I have an abundance of but even I have wanted to use a sledgehammer on my laptop when filling out an online application.) Then, assuming you get a call back, it takes time to find an appropriate outfit to wear for any interviews. Until finally, there are the interviews themselves: informational interviews, screening interviews, individual interviews, panel interviews, all-day or “power” interviews, behavioral interviews, task-oriented interviews, testing interviews, and the dreaded stress interview.

So how does one keep sane? How do you find that “Zen place” when dealing with the stress and above all, the waiting to hear back?  Here are some suggestions that have worked for me:
1. Do not put yourself on a timeline. Even if you are in a desperation search, it is going to take some time investment. There is no such thing as an average length of time before you find a job. Some people find jobs easily, some do not. Some industries have lots of open positions but others do not. How long it takes will be dependent on (1) the industry, (2) type of role (line worker, manager, VP, etc.), (3) the economy in general, and (4) how you are presenting yourself to prospective employers. Holding yourself to some preconceived notion that you should have found a job within X number of days or months does nothing but set you up for failure.
2. Until you are actually working somewhere, do not put your job search on hold. I know what you’re thinking; the job is “the one” you have been looking for all your life. You just know you are going to get this one so why bother looking at any others. Just because you think it’s the perfect match, doesn’t mean the hiring manager does. Keep looking. Besides, it is always better to try to have more than one job offer on the table if you can.
3. Do not brush off the blues over being unhappily employed or un-employed. It isn’t unusual and there is no stigma associated with it. Talk with someone, join a support group, or make an appointment with your spiritual advisor or a therapist. Address the blues, don’t ignore them.
4. Do look at your financial situation. Can you cut back on expenses while you are looking for work? Understand what you need to make versus what you want to make. Know what is most important to you in terms of benefits that might be offered.
5. Do make time for yourself. Find things you can do to enjoy life or occupy your time between job interviews and filling out applications. It will help you stay positive.
6. Do ask your friends for help with your search. If you have a friend who is fairly well connected, ask them who is hiring in your field. If you have a friend who is really good with proofreading and writing, ask for help preparing or fine tuning your resume. Use social networking sites like LinkedIn to see if you have networking opportunities through friends.

These are just a few tips to help keep you centered as you look for the perfect job. Good luck and happy hunting.


Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead writes paranormal romance among other genres. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

1 Comment

Filed under Mairead Wapole, writing

One response to “Zen and the Art of Job Search

  1. Good advice. I own a business and am currently looking to hire a new staff member. I love it when people come well-prepared.

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